Understanding Colostomy: Types, Care, and Life with Confidence

"Colostomy" - perhaps you're familiar with this surgical procedure, or maybe you're just exploring the topic for the first time. Regardless, one thing is clear: The prospect of undergoing colostomy can lead to a range of emotions and questions. At Coloplast, we know that a colostomy can be a life-altering experience, and we are here to provide you with all the information and support you need to navigate this journey.

What is a colostomy - and how do you distinguish between temporary and permanent colostomy?

A colostomy is a surgical procedure that connects the large intestine to the abdominal wall. During this procedure, a surgeon creates an opening in the abdomen and attaches the colon to it. This can be done in any part of the colon. Terms like sigmoid colostomy, transverse colostomy and descending colostomy relates to the location in the colon at which the ostomy is created. A colostomy is necessary if part of the colon has been, or has to be, removed. Sometimes it's necessary to remove part of the colon due to illness, infection or trauma.

A colostomy can be both temporary and permanent. Most permanent colostomies are "end colostomies," while many temporary colostomies bring the side of the colon up to an opening in the abdomen, which is called a "loop colostomy".

Whether your colostomy is temporary or permanent, in most cases, the surgery will be done after a bowel surgery or injury.

Knowing the basics of what a colostomy is, the next step is to know that there are two main types of colostomies: A loop colostomy and an end colostomy. Another term you may hear is a double barrel colostomy. Which type of colostomy is needed depends on your condition and circumstances. To understand the two types and their different requirements, continue to the next section.

Loop colostomy and surgery procedure

If the operation is a temporary measure to relieve pain, a loop colostomy will most often be the preferred choice as it's easier to reverse. The operation is therefore done to allow treatment in the large bowel or relieve a blocked bowel. However, a loop colostomy can, in some cases, also be permanent - but it is less often.

The loop colostomy surgery is usually done by removing portions of your large bowel (colon) or rectum and redirecting the end of the remaining colon to the surface of your abdomen - hence the name. Here, the colon that appears on the outside of your abdomen creates a stoma. A loop colostomy may be on the right or left side of the abdomen based on the location in the large intestine. You may hear terms like a loop ascending colostomy or loop descending colostomy.

End colostomy and surgery procedure

An end colostomy can be both a temporary colostomy or a permanent colostomy. A temporary end colostomy is typically recommended when a portion of the bowel has been removed due to a disease, while the remaining bowel needs time to heal before the two ends can be rejoined.

A permanent end colostomy, on the other hand, is chosen in situations where reconnecting the two sections of the intestine is either too risky or not feasible. That is why most permanent colostomies are end colostomies.

Regardless of your colostomy is temporary or permanent, the procedure is to bring the end of the colon through the abdominal wall and stitch the edges of upper colon to the outside of your stomach - which forms a stoma. An end colostomy may be on the right of left side of the abdomen based on the location in the large intestine. You may hear terms like an end descending colostomy or end sigmoid colostomy.

Double barrel colostomy

A double barrel colostomy may also be created. It is where two end colostomies are created near each other. However, this is not as common of procedure as a loop or end colostomy is.

Managing Your Colostomy: Products and Techniques

Living a good life with your colostomy is not difficult - but it depends on colostomy products and techniques. They not only enhance your daily life but also empower you to navigate with confidence and comfort. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into various aspects of colostomy care and products, together with insights on how to live your life to the fullest with your colostomy.

Colostomy pouch

One of the most used products in colostomy care is colostomy pouches. It is a kind of specialized pouch that comes in many sizes and shapes. However, there are two main types: one-piece pouches and two-piece pouches.

The one-piece colostomy pouch is attached directly to a stoma cover - or a skin barrier - that has a hole in the middle with the bag on it.

The two-piece colostomy pouch consists of a stoma cover - or a skin barrier - and a pouch that can detach from the stoma cover.

At Coloplast, you can find both types of colostomy pouches together with stoma covers, seals and removal sprays - all in different designs that cater to your individual preferences and requirements. Our colostomy pouches and seals are made of skin-friendly materials, and they ensure a snug yet gentle fit around the stoma, preventing leaks and minimizing the risk of skin irritation.

Take a look at our colostomy care products and gain the freedom to engage in daily activities without worry.

Product Care: A Step-by-Step Guide

Understanding your colostomy, your colostomy care products and how to take good care of them is essential in your everyday life. With the right information and skill, you can ensure comfort and hygiene and guard against leaks and skin irritation.

Read Coloplast's three-step guide on how to change your colostomy pouch- it will help you manage your colostomy confidently and allow you to live your life to the fullest.

  1. Start by gently removing the old colostomy pouch so you do not damage the skin or disturb the stoma.

  2. Cleanse the skin around the stoma. Use water and a washcloth and pat completely dry after cleansing. Avoid using wipes that have oils or fragrances.

  3. Attach the new pouch by aligning the opening of the new colostomy pouch with the stoma and securing it in place to prevent leaks.

To further assist you in the process, we've included a visual guide to provide you with visual help on how to change your colostomy confidently.

Recovering from a colostomy surgery

As you are undergoing colostomy surgery, you will, in some ways, enter new ways of living life - but there’s no reason why it should stop you from doing most of the things you already do. However, if you feel nervous about what to expect, Coloplast will help you prepare. Let's explore what to expect and how to get ready both mentally and physically.

What can I expect after my colostomy surgery?

Right after your colostomy surgery, you’ll be wearing your first colostomy pouch. This will probably be a clear one so that your nurses can check on your new stoma easily. Here, you usually spend a few days in the hospital to recover and let your stoma heal. A stoma nurse will support and guide you, showing you how to care for your stoma and the skin surrounding your stoma. Often, a doctor or ostomy nurse will also advise you on how and when to resume normal activities - because it is important to establish a good routine from the beginning and get back to your normal way of life as quickly as possible.

But it can take a while before you feel ready to resume your normal activities. The first few weeks after your stoma surgery can be challenging. You have a lot of new things to learn and new routines to establish, and you may feel like your body has changed. It is perfectly natural, and it will take time to adjust to your new life with a stoma.

A nurse will be there to help you

After your operation, your ostomy care nurse will focus on helping you become confident in taking care of your stoma. Often, most people find it helpful also to have a close relative or spouse for this training.

Your nurse will help you with the following:

  • Learning how to care for your stoma, including any possible complications to watch out for

  • Re-ordering stoma pouches and accessories

  • Making sure you know your rights regarding compensation and other economic support relating to your stoma

  • Information about practical aspects of living with a stoma, e.g. foods and drink, your social life, traveling, and your intimate relationships

  • Who to contact when you have questions

  • Association support groups in your area

Before you leave the hospital, your ostomy nurse will likely make arrangements for follow-up care to make sure you feel confident caring for your ostomy.

What will your colostomy look like, and how does it function?

After your colostomy surgery, your stoma will be moist and pinkish-red in color, and can be seen sticking out a bit from your abdomen (though it's also common for both scar tissue and stoma to remain flush with the skin surface).

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 stoma output is dependent on where the location of the ostomy is in the large intestine. The further up in the large intestine, like near the ascending colon, you may notice more soft or liquid output. As for the sigmoid colostomy you may notice more solid stool. Because your large intestine naturally pushes stool through you may notice that you have more of a pattern or routine with your bowel movements.

Your doctor will advise you when you will gain a normal bowel function and can eat and drink as usual. Initially, it’s also likely that a certain amount of noisy gas will come from the stoma – again, this is perfectly normal. It is not uncommon to feel the need to use the restroom as you did before. This is normal and should reduce with time. And if your anus is still present, there may be some mucus discharge from it.

Coloplast: Your partner in colostomy care

There is a lot of new information to take once you or a loved one is undergoing a colostomy surgery. It may even feel a bit overwhelming. Remember that Coloplast is here for you - to answer all the questions you need, to guide you with video training and to offer you different types of support programs.

We want to make sure that you are as prepared as possible and feel as confident as possible, both before the surgery and when you are back at home.

We care about how you overcome challenges

Once you are home, you may experience some challenges caring for your stoma. But remember that your WOC nurse, as well as a dedicated Coloplast Care Advisor, will be more than happy to help you with any issues.

Coloplast also has a support program called Coloplast Care that you may find useful. Here, you will find straightforward advice, personalized support and inspiration whenever you need it to make living with an ostomy easier. We'll pair you with a dedicated care advisor to help answer any questions you might have along the way to find your new lifestyle. Fill out the form here to join today, or get in touch with a Care Advisor - call 1-888-726-7872.


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