what to expect before and after ostomy surgery

Before and after surgery

Some advice on what to expect before ostomy surgery and the first days afterward.

Before you leave for surgery

Be sure to get plenty of rest before your surgery date, as your body will need energy to recover. You will also want to pack some loose-fitting clothes to wear home from the hospital.

Nurse examination. Finding the right ostomy location.

Finding the right location for your ostomy

If your surgery is planned, your ostomy nurse can help choose the best location for your ostomy. Your ostomy nurse may take several things into consideration. For example, how your abdomen changes when you are sitting, standing, and lying down, as well as what you do for a living, the type of clothing you wear and the activities you enjoy.

It is important to talk about the location of your ostomy with your nurse, and when the location has been marked, check to see if you will be able to see and reach your ostomy without too much difficulty. If it seems to be difficult, talk to your your ostomy nurse about possible alternatives.

Waking up after surgery

As you wake up after your surgery, you may feel tired and a little disoriented. Try to remember that you are in very good hands and will have close guidance along the way.

You will already be wearing your first ostomy pouch. Most likely this will be see-through or transparent, allowing you and the nurses to see the stoma and the contents in the pouch. If you prefer, you can change it to an opaque pouch once you have healed and adjusted to having a stoma, so you can't see through it. We can not say when you leave the hospital as that is not the case.

You could also have various tubes and drains attached to your body. While it might look a little overwhelming, this is in fact perfectly normal.

Some of the tubes will be IV drips with fluid to help you recover, and others will be drains to keep your bowels empty until the ostomy is ready to function. All the tubes and drains will soon be removed with very little discomfort - most likely before you go home.

does ostomy hurt?

What will the ostomy be like? Will it hurt?

Typically, your ostomy will stick out above skin level from your abdomen and it will be bright red. Because of the color, it might "look like it hurts". however, on the contrary, there are no sensitive nerves in the ostomy. The tissue is similar to the inside of your mouth, and touching it feels about the same – soft, warm and a little moist.

It is completely normal to feel self-conscious about the ostomy, but remember that no one will know unless you tell them. The doctors and nurses taking care of you have seen it many times and their crucial concern is for your well-being.

Adjusting at home

While in the hospital, an ostomy nurse may show you how to change and empty your pouch. It is helpful to involve a family member or caregiver so they can learn with you. They can help you remember what you were taught once you get home. When it is time for you to leave the hospital it is a good idea to make arrangements with your family or friends to be available for support in the first few days after you come home.


Information from Coloplast Care 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.

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