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Abstract

This study was conducted to obtain information regarding sexual adjustment following ostomy surgery and to explore the influence of surgery on an individual's body image. Home interviews were conducted with 40 subjects, where the mean length of time since surgery averaged 4.6 years. Retrospective perceptions of attractiveness decreased in the first year after surgery, then continued to improve with time. Most comments relative to body image during the first year after surgery had a negative connotation. Persons who saw themselves as most sexually attractive at the time of interview were most often female; however, males had seen themselves as more sexually attractive than females before surgery. Management problems significantly decreased feelings of attractiveness no matter when they occurred. Those with ileostomies who had been ill for over 10 years preoperatively tended to have enhanced feelings of attractiveness at the time of interview compared to those with other types of ostomy surgery and lengths of illness.