Skip to main content

Three Things to Know About Life After an Ostomy

three things to know about life after ostomy surgery
Are you a new ostomate? You probably have some questions about what to expect from life after ostomy surgery.

It’s true that getting used to having an ostomy takes some time. However, will your life be completely different? Will you be able to exercise and eat good food after ostomy surgery?

First, please know that you can lead a normal life after healing from your ostomy procedure. Learning how to apply and remove your ostomy pouching system may take a while. Before you know it, you’ll be a seasoned pro.

What is an Ostomy?

An ostomy is a surgically created opening in the abdomen, which allows waste to leave your body. These are the three most common types of ostomies:

  • Colostomy: An artificial opening from the colon to divert the flow of formed stool
  • Ileostomy: An artificial opening from the small intestine to divert the flow of loose stool
  • Urostomy: An artificial opening from the urinary system to divert the flow of urine

You may be getting an ostomy procedure due to any number of issues, such as colon cancer or bladder cancer, IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), an injury, etc.

Ostomies can be temporary or permanent, depending on the condition. Your doctor will determine what’s necessary, based on your unique condition and anatomy.

Having an ostomy is not at all uncommon. While it may seem like you’re going through this alone, you are among thousands who live as ostomates all over the world.

In fact, in the United States alone, it’s estimated that as many as 750,000 people have an ostomy.

as many as 750,000 people live with an ostomy in America

Now, let’s go over the three main things you’ll want to know about life after an ostomy.

1. Will People Be Able to Tell That I Have an Ostomy?

It may feel stressful and even uncomfortable as you deal with your new life as an ostomate. However, having an ostomy is nothing to be ashamed of. Still, we understand that you want to keep your ostomy discreet.

It’s completely up to you how, when, and if you tell others about your surgery. Luckily, you can find plenty of ostomy supplies and accessories, including clothing options, that can help you feel clean, discreet, and secure whether you’re in public or at home.

Many of the ostomy pouches 180 Medical carries feature charcoal filters to release gas without build-up or odor. Plus, many of our ostomy bags also feature comfortable panels, which keep your pouch quiet and discreet beneath your clothes.

Concerned about ostomy odors? Check out our comprehensive article about troubleshooting ostomy smells.

2. Will I Have to Adjust My Diet After Ostomy Surgery?

Worried you’ll have to be on a strict diet after ostomy surgery? This is rarely the case, although that is entirely up to you and your prescribing physician.

Many people do not have to adjust their diet much at all after ostomy surgery. Your doctor may recommend cutting foods that are harder for your body to digest if you have an ileostomy or colostomy. However, most people do not adjust their diet much after ostomy surgery.

In fact, some people who lived with severe Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis prior to their ostomy surgery find they can eat and enjoy more foods than before.

Ultimately, whether or not you’ll have to eat a little differently after your ostomy will depend on your unique body and condition. Also, your doctor may have some tips about the right types and amounts of fluids to drink after surgery.

However, for the most part, you can probably resume your normal diet once you’re given the okay from your doctor.

3. Will I Be Able to Exercise After Ostomy Surgery?

Many people who have an active lifestyle wonder if they’ll be able to stay active after their ostomy procedure.

Again, this is on a case-by-case basis. Typically, most people can get back to their favorite activities when and if their doctor approves.

However, keep in mind you may want to stay away from full-contact, rough sports. You should be able to run, swim, bicycle, do yoga, and even lift weights once you’ve healed. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.

swimming with an ostomy

Also, once your doctor gives you the okay, you can go back to work or school after healing from your ostomy procedure. If you work a physically active or manual labor job, you may have to make some adjustments or speak with your employer about changing your tasks.

For many people, getting back to their normal daily routine or work schedule is a great step to feeling more confident and assured that life will not be so different with an ostomy, after all.

Do you need ostomy supplies? We’re here to help!

At 180 Medical, we have a variety of ostomy products, including skin barriers, ostomy pouches, and other ostomy accessories to ensure you have everything you need. Contact us to speak with a trained Ostomy Specialist.

Call Toll-Free (877) 688-2729

Join the 180 Community

About the Author
Three Things to Know About Life After an Ostomy
Jessica is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she has been with the company for over 14 years now. She loves getting to be creative in her role and hearing from customers about the positive impact we've made on their lives.

Outside of work, you can find her hanging out with her husband and their dogs or browsing garden centers (where she will almost certainly buy another houseplant she doesn't really need).