Preparing for ostomy surgery - what is a stoma?

What will my stoma look like? How will an ostomy affect my lifestyle? Coloplast can help you prepare for what to expect before and after ostomy surgery.

It's natural to have a lot of questions before ostomy surgery. In this section, you can start getting some answers. You’ll find information about the different types of ostomies, the kind of products you’ll be using, and other related topics.

 


Understanding what a stoma is

What is a stoma? What is a stoma? Understanding exactly what a stoma is and how it is created is an important first step in coming to grips with how it might affect your daily life. Understanding what an ostomy is
Close

What is a stoma?

A stoma is the result of an operation that is meant to remove disease and relieve symptoms. It is an artificial opening that allows feces or urine either from the intestine or from the urinary tract to pass.

The stoma is created from the end of the intestine, which is brought to the surface of your abdomen to form the stoma (opening). 


Download relevant stoma guides:

Close
What does a stoma look and feel like? What does a stoma look and feel like? A stoma is usually moist and pinkish-red, and will stick out slightly from your abdomen. Stoma look and feel
Close

What does a stoma look and feel like?

After surgery, your stoma may be quite swollen to begin with, but will reduce in size over time – usually after six to eight weeks.

A stoma is pinkish-red in color. 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 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.

 

If you are an individual with an ostomy, try our BodyCheck tool to ensure optimal fit between your body and your pouching system.

Close
Understanding your digestive and urinary system Understanding your digestive and urinary system A colostomy and ileostomy work within your digestive system, while a urostomy works within your urinary system. A good way to understand how your stoma works is to have a basic knowledge of how food and drink is digested by your body. The digestive system and urinary system
Close

Understanding your digestive and urinary system

The digestive system

The digestive systemThe stomach
When you eat, the food travels down a long, narrow tube called the food pipe into your stomach. Here, the food is churned into smaller pieces and your digestive juices turn it into liquid.

The small bowels
The journey continues as the contents of your stomach move into the small bowel (ileum), where digestion finishes. Your body absorbs the nutrients it needs for energy, growth and building new cells and channels these into the bloodstream.

The large bowel
When all nutrition has been absorbed, the remains move into the large bowel (colon), where your body absorbs more fluid to make the waste more solid. The muscles in your colon wall then push any waste forward into your rectum, where it passes out of your body through your anus, with the aid of the sphincter muscles, as stool.

 

The urinary system

The urinary systemUrine is made by your kidneys and travels down two tubes called the ureters to your bladder. Urine is produced all the time, but it is stored in your bladder until you get a sense that you need to urinate. The urine then passes out of your body through the urethra.

Close
Three types of ostomies Three types of ostomies There are three types of ostomies, each created for different purposes. Keep reading to find out where they are typically placed and what they are for. Ostomy types
Close

Three types of ostomies

The three types of stoma are: Colostomy, Ileostomy and Urostomy.

 

Colostomy

ColostomyIn a colostomy operation, part of your colon is brought to the surface of your abdomen to form the stoma. A colostomy is usually created on the left-hand side of your abdomen. Stools in this part of the intestine are solid and, because a stoma has no muscle to control defecation, will need to be collected using a pouching system.

There are two different types of colostomy surgery: End colostomy and loop colostomy.

End colostomy
If parts of your colon or rectum have been removed, the remaining large intestine is brought to the surface of the abdomen to form a stoma. An end colostomy can be temporary or permanent. The temporary solution is relevant in situations where the diseased part of the bowel has been removed and the remaining part of the bowel needs to rest before the ends are joined together again. The permanent solution is chosen in situations where it is too risky or not possible to re-join the two parts of the intestine.

Loop colostomy
In a loop colostomy, part of your colon is lifted above skin level and held in place with a stoma rod. A cut is made on the exposed bowel loop, and the ends are then rolled down and sewn onto the skin. In this way, a loop stoma actually consists of two stomas (double-barreled stoma) that are joined together. The loop colostomy is typically a temporary measure performed in acute situations.

Ileostomy

IleostomyIn an ileostomy operation, a part of your small intestine called the ileum is brought to the surface of your abdomen to form the stoma. An ileostomy is typically created in cases where the end part of the small intestine is diseased or the large intestine is diseased, and is usually made on the right-hand side of your abdomen.

Stools in this part of the intestine are generally fluid and, because a stoma has no muscle to control defecation, will need to be collected in a pouching system.

There are two different types of ileostomy surgery:

End ileostomy
An end ileostomy is made when part of your colon is removed (or simply needs to rest) and the end of your small intestine is brought to the surface of the abdomen to form a stoma. An end ileostomy can be temporary or permanent.

The temporary solution is relevant in situations where the diseased part of the bowel has been removed and the remaining part needs to rest before the ends are joined back together. The permanent solution is chosen in situations where it is too risky or not possible to re-join the two parts of the intestine.

Loop ileostomy
In a loop ileostomy, a loop of the small intestine is lifted above skin level and held in place with a stoma rod. A cut is made on the exposed bowel loop, and the ends are then rolled down and sewn onto the skin. In this way, a loop ileostomy actually consists of two stomas that are joined together.

The loop ileostomy is typically temporary and is created to make it easier for the surgeon to re-connect the bowel at a later date. If re-connection is an option your surgeon can then rejoin the two pieces of bowel in a future operation.

Urostomy


UrostomyIf your bladder or urinary system is damaged or diseased and you are unable to pass urine normally, you will need a urinary diversion. This is called a urostomy or ileal conduit.

An isolated part of the intestine is brought onto the surface of the right-hand side of your abdomen and the other end is sewn up. The ureters are detached from the bladder and reattached to the isolated section of the intestine. Because this section of the intestine is too small to function as a reservoir, and there is no muscle or valve to control urination, you will need a urostomy pouching system to collect the urine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Request free samples of Coloplast ostomy products to fit your individual needs

Close

How will my life change after surgery?

Wondering how your ostomy might affect daily life? Wondering how your ostomy might affect daily life? It will take time to adjust to life with an ostomy. But there’s no reason why it should stop you doing most of the things you already do, from sports to socializing. Daily life with an ostomy
Close

Wondering how your stoma might affect daily life?

After your ostomy surgery you will need some time to recover. This is perfectly normal, and the time needed will vary from person to person. Your stoma will change in the first weeks following surgery, in terms of both size and output. You may lose or gain weight in these weeks.

Get started with a pouching system
Having a stoma means you have no control over when you defecate or, in the case of a urostomy, when you urinate. This means that you always need to wear a pouching system to collect your output.

 

View pouching product solutions and request free samples

Healthy skin
In order for your pouching system to adhere properly, it is very important to keep the skin around your stoma healthy. When the pouch is attached correctly, there is no risk of smell from your ostomy and less risk of skin irritation. Before you leave the hospital, you will be trained in how to choose and manage your ostomy pouching system and how to take care of your skin.

 

View our Brava Accessories- a range of ostomy accessories designed to reduced leakage and take care of your skin.

What about food and drink?
In general you can eat and drink as normal. Try to see how your ostomy reacts to different foods. Your WOC nurse, surgeon or physician will advise if you need to take special precautions.

In general, your ostomy shouldn't keep you from working, socializing, playing sports, traveling or other hobbies. Your general state of health – physically as well as mentally – will play a big role in determining your quality of life as you move forward.

Talk about it
Talk about itNothing is more helpful than someone who really understands what you are going through. You are certainly not alone – the number of people with a stoma worldwide is 1.9 million. Your local patient organization is one way of meeting peers to get handy tips, inspiration and personal support.

 

Enroll in Coloplast® Care and receive customized support 

Close
Intimacy & pregnancy with an ostomy Intimacy & pregnancy with an ostomy Although an ostomy can influence the way you feel about your body, it doesn’t necessarily have to affect your relationship with your partner or even pregnancy. Keep reading for simple, practical advice on living with an ostomy. Intimacy with an ostomy
Close

Intimacy & pregnancy with a stoma

Following ostomy surgery, it’s natural to have concerns about your body’s appearance. It can take time to get used to the physical changes and you may feel less attractive as a result. Although it can be challenge, it’s important to learn to accept it as a part of who you are.

What about intimacy?
Intimacy and a normal loving relationship following ostomy surgery can be resumed. How and when depends on the nature of the operation you've had. However, impotence and/or discomfort can occur in cases where the rectum or bladder have been removed (women can also be affected by this).

It’s important to talk to your partner and try not to feel self-conscious because of the operation. It’s also important to talk to your WOC nurse who is used to discussing the issues you’re experiencing and will be able to help in many ways. There are also several handy tips and tricks for overcoming everyday obstacles. For instance, adapting lace underwear so that it’s worn as a tube around your body covering the pouch, or using mini pouches for intimate situations.

Can I have children?
Stoma and pregnancyIn a word, yes. Having an ostomy does not prevent a woman from carrying a baby to term and having a normal delivery. As the belly grows, the stoma will typically just follow the changing shape of the abdomen. In the later stages of pregnancy, you might need to use a mirror when changing your pouch. Delivery usually takes place as normal.  Have a conversation with your physician regarding your surgery.

Talk about it
Ultimately, nothing is more helpful than talking to someone who really understands what you are going through. Your local support group is one way of meeting peers to get handy tips, inspiration and personal support.

Close
Why do I need to wear an ostomy pouching  system? Why do I need to wear an ostomy pouching system? An ostomy pouch is necessary to securely and conveniently collect the output from your stoma. How often you drain or change your pouch is dependent on whether you have a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy. Practical information about wearing an ostomy pouch
Close

Why do I need to wear an ostomy pouching system?

No matter what type of ostomy you have, all the output from the stoma must be collected in a secure and convenient way. That’s where your ostomy pouch comes in. These are designed to adhere to the skin on your abdomen around your stoma and collect the output.

Secure and discreet

The design of your ostomy pouch will depend on whether you have a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy. Your WOC nurse will show you which one is right for you, but the overwhelming majority of pouches are secure and discreet. Nobody will know you’re wearing one unless you decide to tell them.

Although it can be difficult at first to accept the fact that you will have to wear an ostomy pouch on your stomach, you should soon start to realize that it’s possible to live much as you did before.

Changing your pouch

How often you change or empty your pouch depends on the type of stoma you have:

  • Colostomy: A closed end pouch will need to be changed 1-2 times per day or whenever you have a bowl movement.  A drainable pouch will need to be emptied after each bowel movement.
  • Ileostomy: The pouch needs to be drained several times a day.  It should typically be emptied when the pouch is 1/3 to 1/2 full.
  • Urostomy: The pouch needs to be drained several times a day. It should typically be emptied when the pouch is 1/3 to 1/2 full. During the night, you may choose to connected to a smaller urostomy appliance, or keep the same pouch that you wear during the day, and then connect the pouch's spout to a night bag so you don’t need to get up to drain your bag.

Request free samples of Coloplast ostomy pouches

Close
How to put on your ostomy pouch How to put on your ostomy pouch Being able to apply your ostomy pouch correctly is a crucial first step in learning to care for your stoma. Apply your ostomy pouch correctly
Close

How to put on your ostomy pouch

When you have an ostomy, urine or stool exits the body directly into the pouch on your abdomen. To avoid leaks, skin irritation or social embarrassment, it is very important that you learn how to seal the ostomy pouch securely to the skin.

A snug fit is key
The guiding principle is that the adhesive part of the appliance is stuck to the area around the stoma and that the hole in the adhesive fits snugly around the stoma.

Your WOC nurse will help you choose the best product for you and show you how to apply and remove the pouch in the right way. 

Close

Coloplast Care - ongoing support, right from the start

Our Care program offer straight-forward advice, personalized support and inspiration. Whether you are expecting to go through ostomy surgery in the future, or have years of experience managing your ostomy, Care is available when you need it. Enroll for free today!

Stories from people with an ostomy

”I don’t even think about my stoma when I’m running”* For 40-year-old fitness enthusiast Sandra, running is how she clears her head and recharges her batteries. That’s why she was delighted when she found an ostomy solution that lets her stay in shape without worrying about leakage.* Read more
Close

Sandra's Story

“I’ve always participated in a lot of sports and run two or three times a week, as well as going to the gym. Running gives me a great sense of freedom. Now I’ve found the stoma solution that matches my body shape, there’s nothing stopping me,” she says.

 

20 years ago, Sandra was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which worsened considerably after ten years. After spending five years weighing up the pros and cons of an ileostomy, in 2012 she finally had the surgery. At the hospital, she was advised to try different stoma products and solutions until she found the right one for her body shape.

 

“I tried various solutions. For some reason, the flat products didn’t work for me and I experienced leakage, which was really, really distressing.” Having experienced leakage, Sandra realized the importance of finding a solution that fit her body shape. She is glad she was encouraged to experiment, as this led to her find SenSura® Convex Light.

 

“The SenSura® Convex Light barrier smooths out the skin around my stoma and seems to stick much better. I haven’t ever had any problems with it – no leakage and no skin irritation. It fits so well it feels like part of my body. I can’t tell I’m wearing it – which means I often completely forget about my stoma.”

Close

*Coloplast has compensated Sandra, SenSura® user, to share her experience. Each person’s situation is unique, so your experience may not be the same. Talk to your health care provider about whether this product is right for you. 

”My ostomy solution gives me the confidence to play on stage”* Having lived with leakage for many years, Patrick’s life changed dramatically when he discovered the ostomy solution that fitted his body shape. He now has the confidence to enjoy his passion for music without worrying about whether his ostomy product would let him down. Read more...
Close

Patrick's Story

“I like being in that moment where it’s you, the guitar, the music – and the crowd is really into it. My ostomy solution gives me the confidence to play on stage and enjoy it,” he says.

 

Patrick made the decision to undergo ostomy surgery in 1993 after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in high school. It was a tough decision to make and it took time for him to adapt to the stoma.

 

“After my surgery, it was a constant battle to manage leakage and find something that would work for me,” he explains. With a prolapsed hernia and a slight indentation where the stoma meets the abdominal wall, it was a process of trial and error before Patrick discovered the products that worked best for him.

 

“When I started to use SenSura® Convex Light together with a Brava® Moldable Ring, my leakage concerns disappeared almost immediately. The Brava Moldable Ring improved something that was already great and made it better. It’s by far the best fit I’ve ever experienced, with just the right amount of convexity to create a tight seal.”

 

Now that he has an ostomy solution he can trust, Patrick lives life to the fullest. In addition to his work and band commitments, he loves going skiing and running to stay in shape.

 

“I now have the confidence to live life without worrying whether there is going to be a leak. Aside from bag changing day, I don’t think about it. It’s simply part of me.”

 

*Patrick is a SenSura® and Brava® user who has received compensation from Coloplast to provide this information.

Close

*Coloplast has compensated Patrick, SenSura® and Brava® user, to share his experience. Each person’s situation is unique, so your experience may not be the same. Talk to your health care provider about whether this product is right for you. 

Coloplast Care - ongoing support, right from the start

Our Care program offer straight-forward advice, personalized support and inspiration. Whether you are expecting to go through ostomy surgery in the future, or have years of experience managing your ostomy, Care is available when you need it. Enroll for free today!

Questions about ostomy care? We're here to help.

Questions about our products or living with a stoma? Please provide the following information and a Coloplast® Care advisor will contact you to help answer and questions and advise on product samples.

Is this a cell phone or a land line?*

I would like information regarding:*


Confirmation of Consent

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice and should not be interpreted to contain treatment recommendations. You should rely on the healthcare professional who knows your individual history for personal medical advice and diagnosis.

Call your healthcare provider if you have any medical concerns about managing your ostomy. You may also contact your Coloplast® Care Advisor for product usage and availability questions at 1-877-858-2656.

Close

Order your free samples

Thank you for your order

Your order is complete!

View desktop version