What To Expect After Your Stoma Surgery
Straight after your stoma operation
Straight after surgery you will most likely have a large, clear bag over your stoma. This is so that your surgeon and your specialist nurses can monitor the size, shape and output from the stoma.
Managing any pain
Hopefully you had the chance to discuss your postoperative pain relief options with your surgeon or anaesthetist during your pre-op assessment. Most people will be offered a PCA (patient-controlled analgesia), which will have a pump with a button attached that allows you to deliver intravenous pain relief. These buttons are pre-set so that it is impossible for you to overdose should you keep pressing the button. It is a very effective form of postoperative pain relief. You may also be offered an epidural to the spine as an alternative or your pain may be managed with oral pain relief. Making sure that you are comfortable will be a priority to your hospital team.
During your hospital stay
Learning to change your pouch
Around your second or third day, yourstoma nurseor CNS (Colorectal Nurse Specialist) will train you how to clean your stoma andchange your pouch. They will show you a variety of different pouch types and explain which is best suited for you.
They will also take you through any additional products you may need such as adhesive remover sprays, barrier sprays, strips and pastes. You may not need all of these products. Everyone will have their own individual routine. It is a good idea to write down any questions you may have about your stoma so you can ask your stoma nurse during your training.
Eating and drinking
Straight after stoma surgery you will only be able to have fluids as your bowel will have most likely gone to sleep following the operation. You may have a tube that goes down your nose and into your stomach to prevent vomiting. Once your bowel starts to ‘wake up’ you will be able to progress onto soft foods and foods that are easily digestible. You should be back to a fairly normal diet after a few days.
You may hear that there are foods that you cannot eat with an ostomy including foods with a tough outer skin such as sweetcorn, popcorn, peppers, jacket potato skins etc. These foods can be tougher to digest and are more prone to causing blockages but these foods are all trial and error.
Getting up and about
It is important to get as mobile as possible, as soon as possible after your ostomy surgery. It will help to aid your recovery by getting your lungs working fully again, prevent chest infections and get your bowel working quicker. You will be encouraged to at least sit out in your chair either the same day or the day after your surgery and start walking soon after. You may feel tired and a bit wobbly on your legs to begin with but regular walking will soon increase your strength.
When will my stoma start working?
It can take a few days for your stoma to start producing any output. Your bowel will have gone into a shock like state following surgery. You can aid this process by being mobile and eating small regular amounts of food.
Back at home
How will I feel?
You may feel quite tired and weak following your bowel surgery and your abdomen may still feel quite tender. It is important that you rest following your surgery. You do not need to remain in bed though and it is also important to remain mobile to aid your recovery. Just take it slow and don’t expect to be able to go straight back into your normal routine. It takes around 8 weeks to feel fully recovered from stoma surgery.
You may also feel quite emotional and maybe a little bit overwhelmed. Having stoma surgery is a big change physically and emotionally.
According toresearch, around one quarter of stoma patients experience clinically significant psychological symptoms post-operatively. It is perfectly natural to feel like this after surgery and it can be helpful to talk to others in your situation.The Bladder and Bowel Community Support Groupis a closed facebook group, which can help you connect with people in a similar situation, and offers an opportunity to get peer support with any questions you may have.
Getting out and about
No heavy lifting
It is important that for the first 8 weeks after surgery that you do not lift anything more than the equivalent of a kettle full of water. This is in order to prevent a hernia from forming behind the stoma or behind the incision and causing future issues.
It is perfectly fine for you to have a bath or shower with your stoma bag on or off. Showering is recommended whilst your stoma and any other abdominal wounds are healing as the water is cleaner. You need to be careful not to use any bath products, lotions, shower gels that leave a residue on your skin as this could prevent your ostomy wafer from sticking to your skin. If you’re going to bathe or shower with your stoma bag on, pop a sticker over the filter to prevent it from getting clogged (these will normally be provided in the box alongside your stoma bags).
Stoma Bag changes