After your operation colostomy

“Life got so much better after my colostomy operation”

I’d spent so many years being ill that when I finally had my operation it was actually a huge relief. Of course, you’ll need to get used to wearing and changing your bag. So here are a few things to consider.

Waking up after your colostomy operationMore info
When you wake up after your operation, you will be wearing a stoma bag. Your stoma may be swollen at first, but it will reduce in size over time. You may have drips and drain tubes attached to your body but this is quite normal. It is also possible that you may have a “bridge” which goes underneath the stoma. This is a supporting rod which keeps the stoma in place for the first few days. You’re bound to feel tired and may experience a range of emotions. But remember, it will take time to recover - both physically and emotionally.
When will my stoma start to work?More info
Your stoma will usually start to work within a few days of your operation. The output will be watery and it may be quite strong smelling at first. You will find that your stoma produces noisy wind, but all of this is normal and to be expected. Your bowel motions will thicken as you start to eat a balanced diet and the noisy wind generally decreases. If your rectum has not been removed, you may still feel like you need to go to the toilet in the normal way. Sit on the toilet and you may pass some mucus or wind.
Wearing a colostomy bagMore info
After your operation, you will need to wear a stoma bag to collect your bowel motion. Immediately after your operation, you will find that the output from your stoma may be more liquid than normal. However, after some time, the output will become more formed. It may then change again, depending on your diet or further treatment, including chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Stoma bags are designed to be worn under your normal clothes. Colostomy bags usually have air filters to allow wind to escape from the bag gradually and also to absorb smells. Bags are waterproof, so you can choose to bathe or shower with it on or off. It is up to you.
What type of bag will I wear? More info

Initially, after your operation, you will wear a clear post-op drainable bag. The nurses will empty your bag until you are feeling well enough to do this yourself.

These first bags will be drainable, with an outlet so that the output can be drained from the bag without removing it from your abdomen. However, once your output has thickened to a similar consistency to the output you had before your operation, you will change to a closed bag. Most people who have a colostomy wear a closed pouch.

Opposite left: Drainable bag (pouch)
Opposite right: Closed bag (pouch)
Changing your bag More info

After a while, you will establish a routine for changing your bag and it’s a good idea to keep this as simple as possible. Your stoma will work at different times of the day: for instance, it will be active shortly after a meal. You will learn
not to choose active times to change your bag. Instead, choose a time when your stoma will be relatively inactive. This may be first thing in the morning.

Preparing your new bag More info

Draw the template of your stoma onto the cutting guide, then cut the hole to this template. It is most important that this hole fits snugly around the stoma to prevent the risk of leakage and irritated skin. Your stoma nurse will show you how to do this – which will become easier – and then your pouches can be pre-cut to your size.

Application More info

Ensure the skin is completely dry before applying a clean bag. 1. Remove the backing film from the adhesive. 2. Fold the pouch in half, then position the pouch around the stoma, working from the bottom and smoothing upwards with your fingers. 3. Ensure there are no creases in the adhesive.

Removal of used bag More info

Remove adhesive carefully, working from the top down, and supporting the skin. Empty contents into the toilet, then place your bag into a disposal bag and put in the dustbin. Use dry wipes/kitchen roll and warm water to clean around the stoma.

How often will I need to change my bag?More info
Your bag only needs to be changed when you feel it is full. This will depend on how often you open your bowel but is likely to be between one and three times a day.
Find a patient meetingMore info
Salts runs a series of sessions all over the UK, giving talks on the issues that affect you every day, from leaks to skin protection. It’s a chance to meet with other ostomists and get specialist advice, while learning more about Salts products and how to use them. Here’s a list of the upcoming meetings happening near you:

OPEN DAYS 2017

Call Freephone 0800 626 388 for more information and to let us know you are coming.
The dates and venues are as follows:

Coffee Morning/Meeting:
  • Wednesday 8th February 2017
  • 10.00am – 12.00pm
  • St Mark’s at Northwick Park Hospital, Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 3UJ

Stoma Care Clinic (For problematic stoma and/or AUR):
  • Tuesday 24th January 2017
  • Tuesday 21st March 2017
  • 9am – 4.00pm
  • Birmingham Central Medilink Branch
  • You must call Freephone 0800 626388 to book an appointment slot

Patient Support Group:
  • Saturday 11th February 2017
  • 10.00am – 12.00pm
  • Bradford and Airedale Cancer Centre,
  • 44 Smith Lane, Bradford, BD9 6DA
  • For more details, call Stoma Care Nurse, Lisa Hall, on 07552276747

Moray Ostomates
  • 1st April from 1pm-4pm
  • Moray Resource Centre, Masondieu Road, Elgin IV30 1RX
  • Speaker Mr MacIntyre on stomas - ante and post op Contact Meggie 01343 552449 or Kathleen 07789684285

Scottish Open Days


The Inverness Branch will be holding a Health & Wellbeing Open Day at the following venue:-

Eight Acres Hotel
  • Morriston Road,
  • Elgin
  • IV30 6UL
  • Date: Tuesday 23rd May 2017
  • Time: 2-5pm

Dundee Branch will be holding a Health & Wellbeing Open Day at the following venue:-
Apex Hotel
  • 14th October 2016
  • 1 W Victoria Dock Road
  • Dundee
  • DD1 3JP
  • Date: Friday 27th October 2017
  • Time: 11am-2pm