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Ostomy FAQ

ostomy pouch near clothing
Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about living with an ostomy. Still have questions

What is an Ostomy?

An ostomy is a surgical procedure that allows the body to properly eliminate stool or urine when the digestive or urinary system is no longer working correctly. Thanks to a surgically-created passage, your body’s waste will still be able to leave the body, although it will no longer leave through the urethra or anus.

This passage is called a stoma. Your new ostomy appliance will connect to this pouch to collect your stool or urine going forward.

The stoma is typically located on the abdomen, although the positioning varies from case to case.

What does a stoma look like?

Once it heals after surgery, your stoma may slightly protrude from the abdomen. Sometimes, it heals flush with the skin, or it may recess. Its appearance should look moist and reddish-pink.

If your stoma begins bleeding excessively or changes colors, please see your treating physician as soon as possible.

Will my stoma hurt?

No, once it heals, your stoma should not cause any pain. If you feel excessive pain or experience unusual irritation, you should seek medical attention.

The stoma is connected to a pouch, which will serve as the depository for any urine or stool collected throughout the day from your ostomy.

What will my ostomy (stomal) output look like?

If you have a colostomy, your waste will typically be firm or formed stool.

An ileostomy will typically make your feces looser or even liquid.

If you have a urostomy, your urine will most likely look the same as it did before your procedure.

As far as the average amount of output, talk to your treating physician. This will depend on factors such as your individual body type, surgery type, fluid intake, and diet.

Why would you get an ostomy?

There are a variety of reasons why someone may need to have an ostomy performed.

The human body has complex systems with multiple organs that all work together for normal waste processing and elimination. Every organ along the way, from the mouth and esophagus down to the stomach, liver, and kidneys, and intestines all play a role in absorbing nutrients, eliminating toxins and waste, and processing it to leave the body.

When something hinders the normal processes of the body, whether due to a disease, illness, or injury, an ostomy surgery may be required in order to keep the body healthy and functioning.

Ostomies can be permanent or temporary, depending on the individual’s situation and condition.

What are the reasons for an ostomy?

People have to get ostomy surgery for a variety of reasons and situations.

Here are some of the most common reasons why someone may have to get an ostomy:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Bladder cancer
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Colorectal, rectal, or bladder cancer
  • Incontinence
  • A blockage in the bowel
  • A serious infection
  • An injury to the bowel or bladder

What is an ostomy bag used for?

After your surgery, your treating physician, WOCN (Wound, Ostomy, & Continence Nurse), or another treating health care professional will show you how to attach, remove, and use your ostomy pouching system.

Your ostomy system will attach to the skin surrounding your stoma through a skin-friendly adhesive. This will allow you to collect your urine or stool throughout the day in your ostomy bag, and it should ensure a good seal to protect your skin from irritation and keep your ostomy pouch from leaking.

There are many different types of ostomy bags and accessories, depending on your individual needs as well as your personal preference and lifestyle.

Ostomy patients are encouraged to check out all of our ostomy supplies to find the products that may fit their needs, including ileostomy, urostomy, and colostomy bags that can absorb odors and stay discreet, ostomy skin barriers, adhesive remover wipes, and more.

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