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What to Expect After an Ostomy

An ostomy is a life-saving medical procedure that changes the way the body waste — stool and urine — exits the body. It surgically creates an opening on the abdomen, called a stoma, through which the body waste passes into an external pouch or stoma bag. It is generally recommended for people with bodily defects, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, diverticulitis, incontinence, and several other medical conditions. After surgery, it usually takes a few weeks to get accustomed to the stoma, but it does not impact your normal life in any way, contrary to what most people think before the surgery.

If you are about to undergo ostomy surgery, here’s what to expect after the surgery:

Your stoma will need extra care

For the first few weeks post-surgery, your stoma and abdomen will be swollen. The stoma may also bleed, but it is normal and should not worry you. You will have stitches outside of the stoma, which will either be dissolvable or removed by your medical provider. After a few weeks of surgery, the stoma and abdomen swelling will go down, provided you follow all the post-surgery instructions, including using a stoma shower cover when bathing. You will also have a stoma bag or pouch attached to your stoma that will collect your stool or urine. 

Managing pain

Most stoma surgery patients are given patient-controlled analgesia as a postoperative pain relief option. This device lets you deliver intravenous pain medications but prevents you from an overdose. You may also be offered oral pain medication or an epidural to the spine for pain management. Your surgeon will discuss these options with you before the surgery. 

Learning to change the bag

After a day or two after the surgery, your nurse will train you to change your stoma bag yourself and may inform you about different types of bags available. They may also guide you on how you can keep the stoma and the bag dry during the first few months. For example, they may suggest you use a stoma shower cover when bathing. 

Eating and drinking

Post-surgery, you will one be given fluids through a tube that goes down your nose and into the stomach, as your bowel may not be in good condition following the surgery. Once your bowel starts to recover, you will be able to consume soft foods that are easy to digest. After a few days, you should be able to get back to your normal diet. 

Moving around

Getting as mobile as possible is necessary for recovering patients after stoma surgery. It will help prevent chest infection, improve bowel health, and boost recovery of the stoma. However, post-surgery instruction regarding this must be followed to avoid any mishappening. 

When will the stoma work

It may take a few days for the stoma to start working normally, and you can quicken this process by being mobile, eating the recommended food, and taking special care of the stoma. 

Final note

An ostomy is a life-changing surgery that doesn’t alter your normal life. If you have undergone surgery, you would be back in your life within a few months, provided you follow all the instructions of your surgeon. 

If you are looking for a stoma shower cover to keep it dry while recovering, get in touch with us today. 

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