Answers to 9 Commonly Asked Ostomy Questions

9 Common Questions About Ostomy

Many people become so sick that they need to receive a lifesaving emergency ostomy. However, many people that suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) choose to live with an ostomy bag. It is either to improve their quality of life or because their medications can no longer control the disease.

Hundreds and thousands to millions of people currently live with an ostomy or urine bag. Nonetheless, there are still many misconceptions about what life is like after the procedure. Here are answers to nine common questions asked about ostomy.

Q#1: How long does it take to recover from ostomy surgery?

The recovery time for traditional ostomy surgeries usually takes around six weeks. However, patients can recover within four weeks with the current surgical techniques. In some cases, like emergency surgery, performing open surgery may be necessary. However, many ostomy procedures are done through laparoscopy. It is imperative to know that though the journey is not easy, ostomates are not alone, and there is support for them. It can help to talk to someone who has been down that road before.

Q#2: Will people be able to tell that you are wearing an ostomy bag?

Most people would not know you are wearing a pouch, especially if you have a tight seal on your ostomy bag and use newer appliances. Your pouch is virtually invisible due to advanced ostomy accessories and a variety of clothing choices available. Many available new technologies make a real difference in your ostomy care routine. There is even an app that can tell you when your bag is getting full, so you can keep it from bulging under your clothes and becoming noticeable.

Q#3: Can the procedure be reversed?

Reversing an ostomy is only possible if the underlying cause was properly addressed. The rest of the bowel that leads to the anus should also still be present. A temporary ileostomy, one of the more common surgical procedures performed, is often done to let the colon, rectum, or anus heal. On the other hand, permanent ileostomy removes or bypasses the three latter parts of the digestive system.

Q#4: What if the ostomy bag leaks?

The most important aspect of living with anostomy bag is to have a secure pouch. It is an issue if you cannot leave your house because you are afraid of a leaking pouch. However, no stool or odour can escape unless you empty your ostomy bag.

A person’s belly can change and soften after the surgery. People sometimes gain or lose weight after the procedure. The pouching system they were initially fitted with may not be appropriate anymore. There are many types of pouch systems available in the market. Find a pouch system that works best for you because no one should ever have to live with a leaking pouch. Talk with your WOC nurse so they can help you find the right ostomy system that will work for you.

Q#5: Will the ostomy bag emit odour?

Today, ostomy care products and appliances are odour resistant and odour preventive. It is an entirely different world from the past where ostomy pouches are made of rubber and have an odour. The only time you should have an odour is when you change the ostomy bag, especially if you have a good seal on your appliance. There are drops you can place in your pouch that can neutralise odour if you are still concerned about the smell of gas.

Q#6: Is it okay to eat the same food before the surgery?

Though you can most likely eat everything you did from before the surgery, it still varies from person to person what those foods can be. Having an ostomy is an adjustment like anything else. You do have to adjust your diet, drink more fluids and watch out for dehydration. Nonetheless, your diet may have to change over time. Test out any new food and be prepared for the after-effects that you might experience.

Q#7: How long will it take before you can feel normal again?

Unfortunately, there is no one correct answer to one of the most common questions asked by ostomates. There is an estimated six months or one year period before a person becomes comfortable with their appliance. It can also take that long before an ostomy bag system that best fits their body. Ostomates should be open to trying new things and a lot of different products. Do a lot of reading about how you are supposed to do your ostomy care. It will also allow you to find hacks that may work for you.

There is a difference between learning how to handle your ostomy system and your body getting used to the appliances. Once your body gets used to having an ostomy, it can feel like having another physical limb. However, it can take about five to seven years before you reach that level of familiarity. It will take large amounts of patience, experimentation and practice, but it is worth it in the end.


Q#8: Will the way you sleep or shower change?

The ostomy bag or system shouldn’t interfere with a person’s daily activities. Ostomates showers and sleeps in the same way as everyone does. You can shower with your ostomy bag on like most ostomates do. However, it is also perfectly okay to shower with your appliance off. You don’t have to worry since water won’t enter your stoma.

On the other hand, sleeping with an ostomy can require an adjustment period. Many ostomates can still, and have no problem sleeping on their stomachs, like those who don’t use an ostomy bag. However, many other ostomates will switch to sleeping on their backs or sides after getting an ostomy.

Q#9: Can you still do all the active things you did before, like sports and swimming?

There is no limit to what you can do even after an ostomy. You will find many ostomates who do triathlons and rock climbing. However, you might want to buy a stoma guard and special belt to secure your pouch for more active hobbies or jobs (e.g a firefighter or police officer). An ostomy should not slow you down and still be active.

Coloplast is one of the leading manufacturers of ostomy care products in the world. Their approach to product innovation enables them to produce ostomy appliances and supporting products that set the bar for stoma care. It helps ostomates around the world live a full life. They manufacture innovative ostomy care products like barrier cream, spray or wipes that help protect patients peristomal skin.