After stoma surgery
Once you’ve had stoma surgery and you have recovered initially from the surgery, the next step is to begin adjusting to life with a stoma.
Below we have answered some of the main questions ostomates have after surgery.
When will I see the consultant after surgery?
Usually, a couple of weeks after surgery you will see your surgeon who will examine you to make sure you’re recovering as you should be. During this appointment, your surgeon will be able to reassure you that your stoma is normal and there are no concerns. If, however, your surgeon does happen to find something that’s not normal, although unlikely, they will be able to do something about it quickly.
Before you go to see your surgeon, it might be a good idea to write down a list of questions you have so that they can give you professional advice and reassurance.
What support will I get when I go home?
Your immediate support will come from your partner or family who will likely have been with you through your stoma surgery and will know what to expect. If you have any concerns or are struggling to cope you should open up and talk to those closest to you so that they can provide their full support.
If you should require the support of a professional, your stoma nurse will be on hand to contact with any questions you may have about your stoma.
Who do I phone if there is a problem?
If there are ever any problems or concerns you have about your stoma, you can always ring your stoma nurse who will be happy to help or answer any questions you may have.
The main thing to remember if you are worried about something to do with your stoma is not to panic, it’s unlikely that there will be any serious issues once it has fully recovered and what you’re experiencing is most likely normal and nothing to be concerned about, your nurse will be able to reassure you of this.
When can I start to eat normally again?
Initially, for the first couple of days after your surgery, you’ll only be able to have fluids as your bowel won’t be able to process any proper food as it needs time to recover. Once your bowel does start to adjust and return to normal, you’ll be able to start introducing some soft foods that are easily digestible.
Once your stoma is further along the recovery phase you can start to incorporate a more normal diet into your routine. It’s a bit of a trial and error situation finding out what foods agree with your stoma and what foods don’t. You can find out more about what to eat with a stoma here.
Can I shower with my stoma?
Showering and bathing is no issue whatsoever, even shortly after your surgery! Showering is recommended whilst your stoma and abdominal wounds are healing as the water helps cleanse the area. However, you do need to be aware of any products that could irritate the skin or affect the adhesion on your stoma bag.
What’s more, it’s completely up to you whether you want to shower with your stoma bag on or off. Water does not harm the stoma itself, just be careful not to get any harsh chemicals on the area. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to shower with your stoma bag on that’s completely fine. Most stoma bags have a water-resistant adhesive so it won’t fall off in the shower or bath.
Can I lift things after surgery?
For the first 8 weeks after surgery, it’s advised that you don’t lift anything heavier than a full kettle. This is important as it helps to prevent a hernia from forming behind the stoma or behind the incision and causing future issues.
So sit back and relax while your stoma fully heals! After you are fully recovered you’ll be able to start lifting things as you normally would without the potential risk of damaging yourself.
When can I exercise after surgery?
It’s advised that all exercise is minimal for the first 3 months after surgery until you are fully recovered. Once you have been given the all-clear from your doctor or stoma nurse, you can then start to introduce exercise to your routine again.
You can find out more about exercising after stoma surgery here.
When can I return to work?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to returning to work, although you should ensure that you are fully recovered from surgery. The best person to ask about this is your stoma nurse who will be able to give you a rough idea as to when you’ll be able to return to your normal routine and get back to work.
It might also be a good idea to talk to your employer about your situation so that they can offer you some time off if you return to work and begin feeling unwell. It could also be worth asking them about the possibility of starting work on a part-time basis for the first couple of weeks to ease yourself back into it. Most employers will be understanding and will allow you the time to feel fully recovered before returning to work full-time.
When can I have sex?
Again, there is no right or wrong answer here and it completely depends on how long it takes for you to feel comfortable enough to be intimate with your partner again.
In general, surgeons recommend waiting around 3 weeks after surgery before initiating sexual activity, but this can vary from person to person.
You can find out more information about how your stoma will affect your sex life here.
Where do I get my supplies from?
Stoma supplies are prescribed on the NHS to people are need them. Here at Oakmed, we offer a wide range of stoma supplies to suit all preferences and requirements, we also have a range of accessories to make your stoma easier to deal with. You can order free samples on our website to find what works best for you before requesting products from your prescribing doctor.
What appliances will I need?
The type of stoma bag you require will depend on the type of stoma you have. There is a range of different colostomy, ileostomy and urostomy bags available, and it mostly comes down to personal preference for which type you use.
Variations include closed or drainable, soft closure, clear and a range of different adhesives. There are also a number of accessories available such as gels, belts, powder, pastes and sprays which are all designed to make your life easier when dealing with a stoma.
How do I tell my partner and friends that I have a stoma?
It’s normal to be nervous about telling people you have a stoma and how they might react. However, it’s important to remember that you have complete control over who knows about your stoma. It’s often easier to start with telling the people closest to you such as your partner, family or close friends. Make sure they understand that it’s a personal matter and that they shouldn’t share it with anyone without your permission.
It’s important to tell the people closest to you about your situation as it means you’ll have someone to talk to if you’re ever struggling to cope with your stoma or if you have any worries.