After stoma surgery

The days after stoma surgery can be challenging. You have a pouch attached to your abdomen and lots of new things to learn. It's important to remember that it takes time to adjust, but it will get easier. With support from your stoma care nurse and practical guidance on how to change your ostomy pouch and care for your skin, you should soon be able to do the things you’ve always done.

In this section, you’ll find information that is intended to guide you as you become used to your stoma, up to the first 3 months after surgery. As well as information on managing your stoma, you’ll find helpful tips, keeping your skin healthy and other aspects of getting used to your stoma.

Skip back to 'Before stoma surgery' (preparing for stoma surgery)
Skip forward to 'Living with a stoma' (3+ months after surgery)

Getting used to your stoma

What will the stoma look and feel like after surgery?

What will the stoma look and feel like after surgery?

When you wake up after the operation you’ll be wearing your first pouch. This will probably be a clear one so that your nurses can check on your new stoma easily. The days after stoma surgery
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How does it look after surgery?

When you wake up after the operation you’ll be wearing your first pouch. This will probably be a clear one so that your nurses can check on your new stoma easily. You may also have drips and drains attached to your body. This is perfectly normal and they will be removed with very little discomfort when appropriate.

Your stoma

Your stoma will be moist and pinkish-red in colour and should protrude from your abdomen. It may be quite swollen to begin with but will reduce in size over time – usually 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. A stoma is red in colour. This is because it is a mucous membrane, just like the mucous membrane inside your mouth. There is no sensation in the stoma, so it is not at all painful to touch. The stoma can bleed a little when being cleaned, especially in the beginning, but this is quite normal, and should stop shortly afterwards.

Your stoma will begin to work shortly after your operation, usually within a few days. At first the output will be a watery liquid and may be strong-smelling as your bowel hasn’t been working for a while. Don’t worry, though, the consistency will thicken slightly and the smell will diminish as you resume a more balanced diet. Your doctor will advise you when you will be able to eat and drink as usual.

Initially, it’s also likely that a certain amount of noisy wind will come from the stoma – again this is perfectly normal. It is not uncommon to feel the need to go to the toilet as you did before. This is normal and should reduce with time. If your anus is still present there may be some mucus discharge from it.

Urostomy

If you have a urostomy, the stoma will begin to work immediately after your operation. The tubes placed in the urostomy will be left in place for seven to ten days. At first, your urine may be tinged red, but it will soon return to its usual colour.

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How do I learn about adjusting to life with a stoma?

How do I learn about adjusting to life with a stoma?

Your stoma care nurse will explain how to take care of your stoma while you’re still in hospital. There’s a lot of information to take in, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Adjusting to life with a stoma
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Becoming confident with your stoma

After your operation, your stoma care nurse will focus on helping you become confident in taking care of your stoma. It will help to have a close relative or spouse with you for this training.

Your nurse will help you with:

Ask questions

There will be a lot of new information to take in at once; it may even feel a bit overwhelming. Take your time and ask all the questions you need, as many times as you need to. The more you ask and try things out, the better prepared you will be once you are back at home.

Before you leave hospital, your stoma care nurse will make arrangements for a follow-up consultation to make sure you feel confident caring for your stoma.

Overcoming challenges

Once you are home, you may experience some challenges caring for your stoma. But remember that your stoma care nurse, as well as

Customer Care will be more than happy to help you with any issues.

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Find the Mio that fits your body

Bodies change, so an appliance that once fit correctly may not continue to do so. Finding the right appliance for your current body profile is important to get the right fit. Try taking the BodyCheck to see if you are using the best appliance for you body.

Adjusting to life with a stoma

Everyday life with a stoma

Everyday life with a stoma

As you recover from the surgery, you’ll find yourself adjusting to life with a stoma. Read hints an tips on socialising, food and drink, and exercising. Everyday life with a stoma
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Everyday life with a stoma

Sports

Exercise is good for everyone. What you can do now really just depends on what you did before. Swimming and walking are both great low-impact ways to keep fit and keep your energy levels up. Just remember that taking up sport again should be a gradual process. Talk to your stoma care nurse for advice on how to reduce the risk of getting a hernia.

Swimwear tips:

  • Try before you buy. There is specialist swimwear available, but it should not be necessary

For women

  • A one-piece costume with ruched fabric or patterns can help disguise the stoma pouch
  • Swimwear with a panel across the stomach can provide extra support.
  • Sarongs are great for covering up on the beach

For men

  • Layering a pair of lycra or stretch material swimming trunks underneath shorts will help hold your stoma pouch in place

Sunbathing tip: Apply suntan lotion only after you’ve put your bag on, as the creams may affect the adhesive.

 

Diet

You don’t need to follow a special diet, but just like anyone else, some foods may cause wind or just not suit you. If you think a particular food is causing problems, try cutting it out for a while – then reintroduce it into your diet later. If you do this three times with any suspect food, you’ll know if it’s really causing an issue.

Chewing your food really well before swallowing aids digestion. In addition, charcoal tablets from the pharmacy can help avoid wind, as can peppermint and fennel tea. Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks can help some people too.

Foods that can cause wind include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, beans (green and baked), onions, garlic, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, sweetcorn and peas.

Drinks

As before your surgery, how much fluid you drink will affect the consistency of your output. It’s very individual, but many people find fizzy drinks and beer tend to cause wind. Water, squash and fruit juice are better than tea and coffee, which can be dehydrating. As for alcohol, you can still have a drink as long as it doesn’t interfere with any medication.

Have a chat with your doctor or specialist stoma nurse if you have any concerns.

Constipation

If you are suffering from constipation, adapting your diet will help. Everyone’s is different so you know what is normal for you. If you are passing wind, your stoma is working. Increasing your fluid intake will help with constipation, but if you have any discomfort or concerns please contact your specialist stoma nurse or pharmacist. If you haven’t been for 3-4 days, they may recommend a laxative.

Diarrhoea

Occasionally, just like everyone else, you may suffer from a bout of diarrhoea or loose stools. Don’t be too alarmed about this. A one-off episode of diarrhoea may be caused by something you ate and will often resolve itself. However, three or more consecutive loose stools are a cause for concern as you risk becoming dehydrated. At this point, you should consult your stoma care nurse.

Dining out

Once you have a better idea of the types of foods that suit you, there’s no reason not to enjoy eating out again.

Start with a familiar restaurant and keep it simple – something like a pizza. When ordering, you don’t have to be too over cautious, just sensible. Order what you want but be aware that rich foods and sauces may cause a problem.

If you’re concerned about particular types of food, try them out at home first so you know how you’re going to react, and then add them to your diet gradually.

If you normally have a drink at home, start with a smaller version of your usual, e.g. a small beer rather than a large one. This will help your body build up your tolerance to alcohol again.

Socialising

Whether it’s a quiet drink in your local bar, a meal out with your partner or going out with friends, nothing should stop you from enjoying all the social events that you were doing before your operation.

It may be helpful to set yourself small targets to start with. It could be something as simple as using a public toilet for the first time, visiting a restaurant or relative or planning a day away. Before long, you will be thinking about booking a holiday or even going out dancing.

When you meet new people, you don’t have to tell them about your condition, unless you are comfortable doing that. It’s entirely up to you.

Intimacy

Having any type of operation can affect how you look and feel about your body. Try and accept that it will take time to adjust. It’s not just about your stoma but your whole body.

Sexual activity doesn’t put you at risk of damaging your stoma and most people are able to resume a healthy sex life. It is natural to feel nervous so only do what feels comfortable, take your time and talk to your partner.

There are small stoma pouches that can be used during intimate moments. View our range of ostomy appliances and supporting products for complimentary samples, or contact one of our consumer specialists.

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Who to tell, and what to say about your stoma

Who to tell, and what to say about your stoma

After your operation, one of the big questions may be: how and who do I tell about my stoma? Who to tell?
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Who and what to tell about your stoma

Whoever you decide to tell, the most important thing is that you are comfortable with your decision. You may want to explain that you had major surgery because of a serious illness and now wear a stoma pouch. This often leaves few other questions to be asked and people will see that you have a straightforward attitude towards your condition.

Family and friends

Being open and honest with the people close to you can help you get back to the life you had before your stoma surgery. In the beginning, it’s important for the people closest to you to understand that although you are back home, recovery from major surgery will take time.

Children

If you have young children or grandchildren you may feel that they are too young to understand. However, children tend to cope well if they are given the information in a simple way. Children will often pick up on secrets and hiding the truth from them can sometimes make them think a situation is more serious than it really is.

At work

Many people are concerned about telling work colleagues. And just like with family and friends, who you tell and what you tell them is entirely up to you. However it’s usually advisable to ensure that at least one person knows you have a stoma. Then, in case there are any problems or issues, you will have someone to talk to.

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Stoma appliance terms explained

Stoma appliance terms explained

Life after stoma surgery is a journey, with challenges along the way. Here we provide you with some of the explanations of stoma appliance terminology you may come across. Read common terms of stoma appliances.
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Stoma appliance terms explained

To help you better understand your stoma appliance and discuss your needs with your stoma care nurse, here is a glossary of commonly used terms.

Adhesive: The part of a stoma appliance that attaches the appliance to your skin while you are wearing it. The adhesive must ensure close contact with the skin surface so that output from your stoma does not touch the surrounding skin.

Baseplate: The part of a two-piece stoma appliance that is covered by the adhesive.

Coupling system: This attaches the adhesive baseplate to the pouch in a two-piece appliance, allowing the pouch to be changed without changing the baseplate. It can either be mechanical, or adhesive.

Convexity: A specially shaped baseplate with an oval shell that puts light pressure on the peristomal skin. It is designed to help pouch a stoma that is difficult to manage, for example, a retracted stoma that lies below the skin.

Extended wear adhesive: An adhesive that can be worn for a longer time period, or if there is “aggressive” output from your stoma. Some types of ileostomy or urostomy can have output that breaks down standard adhesives too quickly. Extended wear adhesives are generally used with two-piece appliances.

Filter: From time to time, your stoma releases flatus or wind. The filter included in the appliance has a deodorising action which helps ensure there is no odour, one of the things that people often worry about. It also controls the release of the deodorised wind, so that your bag doesn’t inflate (which is also called ‘ballooning’).

Non-return valve:Urostomy appliances have a non-return valve to stop urine from flowing back to the stoma and help prevent urinary infections.

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Ostomy Self-assessment Tools

Find solutions for stoma problems such as stoma bag leakage or irritated skin.

When you have a stoma it’s not unusual to experience issues such as stoma bag leakage and irritated skin. However, most often they can be solved with little adjustments in your products and stoma care routines. Our Ostomy Self-assessment Tools will support you in finding the solution that is right for you.

Important informationIMPORTANT! If you have any concerns – such as skin problems or how to use new products – you should always consult your stoma care nurse.

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