Before your operation colostomy

“Get all the facts before your colostomy operation”

I found it reassuring to arm myself with information so I knew exactly what to expect from my colostomy. Here are some common questions you might want to answer before your operation.

What is a colostomy?More info
A colostomy diverts your bowel away from its usual route. During your operation, your large bowel (colon) will be brought to the surface of your abdomen to form a stoma (an opening). This will mean that your bowel motion and any wind will pass from your body out of your stoma.
Why am I having a colostomy? More info

Your operation may need to be performed for a number of different reasons - your surgeon and specialist stoma care nurse will explain these reasons to you. Your colostomy can be permanent or temporary.

What is the operation like? More info

Your stoma nurse will explain to you which parts of your bowel will be affected by the operation. Colostomies are usually created in two ways:

- End colostomy
This is usually formed when part of the large bowel (colon) and/or the rectum are removed. The remaining large bowel is brought out to the surface of the abdomen to create a stoma. An end colostomy can be temporary. If a temporary end colostomy is created, this is usually because a diseased section of bowel has been removed but it is not safe to rejoin the bowel at the same time.

- Loop colostomy (temporary)
A temporary loop colostomy is usually created to protect a surgical join in the bowel. It is formed when a loop of the large bowel is brought to the surface of the abdomen and opened to form a stoma.

Opposite top: End colostomy
Opposite bottom: Loop colostomy (temporary)
Large intestine 1 Colostomy 2 Rectum 3 Anus 4 Stoma 5
Where will my stoma be? More info

A colostomy is usually on the left-hand side of your body but, in some circumstances, may also be made on the right-hand side. Before your operation, your specialist stoma care nurse will usually mark where your stoma should be, as a guide to the surgeon.

It will be in a position where you can see it, so that you can change your stoma bags easily. However, it may not always be possible to put the stoma in the exact position your nurse has marked.

What will it look and feel like? More info

Your stoma will look a bit like the inside of your mouth and it will be soft to touch. It will be pinkish-red in colour and should be moist. The stoma should stand out slightly, like a spout, from your abdomen.

Opposite: Loop colostomy shortly after operation
Will it be painful?More info
There is no sensation in the stoma and it is not painful. It is likely to be swollen at first, and will take a few weeks to reduce in size. There will be small stitches around the edge of the stoma, which will usually dissolve.