One of the biggest concerns of people who have gone through any kind of colostomy surgery is do they have to live the rest of their lives with a colostomy bag.
Colostomy surgery is life changing as one has to depend on a colostomy bag to evacuate their bowel content. While engaging in any kind of activity a person must remain alert and aware of their colostomy pouch. This raises questions about how permanent or temporary this life-altering change is.
To answer this, the permanence of a colostomy bag largely depends on the underlying medical condition and the surgical procedure performed.
In this article, we will discuss all the factors that decide the permanence of a colostomy bag. Here you go!
WHAT IS A COLOSTOMY BAG?
A colostomy bag, also known as an ostomy pouch, is a medical device used to collect waste from the digestive system when a person’s colon or rectum is unable to perform its normal functions.
The colon is a part of your large intestine which is responsible for absorbing nutrients and water from the intestinal content. Once food has passed through the colon, it has turned into a waste product that has to be eliminated through the rectum- the last part of the large intestine.
If your colon is damaged or blocked due to any reason, your doctor will recommend colostomy surgery in which the surgeon will make an opening from the large intestine to the exterior of your abdomen. This opening is called a stoma which may be temporary or permanent. Once a stoma is formed, our body’s waste will excrete out from this opening and will be collected in a pouch called a Colostomy bag or pouch.
TEMPORARY VS. PERMANENT COLOSTOMY BAGS
The permanence of a colostomy bag largely depends on the underlying medical condition and the surgical procedure performed.
Let’s discuss the key differences between temporary and permanent colostomy bags:
Temporary Colostomy Bags
Temporary colostomy bags are utilized when you are asked to stop using your colon or anus due to any disease conditions or due to surgery. This restriction is temporary, you may remove the colostomy bag once you are completely healed. Conditions that require the use of temporary colostomy bags are diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and any blockage or injury in the colon. In addition to this, anal fistula or partial colectomies also contribute to the utilization of temporary colostomy bags.
Permanent Colostomy Bags
This means, the stoma will be on your body permanently, and you will have to live with a colostomy bag all through your life. This is required in conditions where there is irreversible damage to your colon such as colorectal cancer and anal incontinence.
WHETHER COLOSTOMY BAG WILL BE PERMANENT OR TEMPORARY
Several factors determine whether a colostomy bag will be temporary or permanent:
The type and severity of the underlying medical condition play a crucial role. Some conditions, like diverticulitis, may necessitate a temporary colostomy to allow the affected area to heal.
The surgeon’s decision during the operation is essential. They will assess the condition and the patient’s overall health to determine if a colostomy should be permanent or temporary.
In some cases, patients may choose to keep the colostomy bag even if it could be reversed. This choice depends on individual comfort, quality of life, and other personal factors.
TYPES OF COLOSTOMY POUCH
The colostomy pouching system comes in various types to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of individuals with colostomies. The following are the most common types of colostomy pouching systems:
It consists of a pouch that is already attached to the adhesive skin barrier. This pouching system sticks directly to the skin around the stoma. It is user-friendly and convenient to use.
As the name indicates it consists of two pieces are pouch and a separate wafer or flange. The wafer remains attached to the skin around the stoma, whereas you replace the pouch. This pouching system allows easier pouch changing without removing the wafer from the skin.
CHALLENGES FACED BY INDIVIDUALS WITH COLOSTOMIES
Individuals with colostomies face a multitude of concerns that impact their daily lives, including physical, emotional, and social challenges. Some of them are:
- Stoma Care and Maintenance: Stoma care is a fundamental aspect of life for colostomy patients. They must regularly empty and replace their colostomy pouches, ensuring a secure seal to prevent leaks. Inadequate stoma care can result in discomfort and skin complications.
- Dietary Adjustments: Dietary changes are often necessary to avoid foods that may cause blockages or excessive gas. Navigating these dietary adjustments can be a significant challenge, and consultation with healthcare professionals is crucial to establishing a suitable eating plan.
- Body Image and Self-esteem: The presence of a colostomy bag can profoundly impact an individual’s self-esteem and body image. Coping with these body image concerns can be an ongoing challenge.
LIFE WITH A COLOSTOMY BAG
Living with a colostomy bag, whether temporary or permanent, can be an adjustment, but it is manageable. Many individuals lead fulfilling lives with colostomies, participating in work, sports, and other activities. It is essential to learn proper care and maintenance to prevent issues like leakage or skin irritation.
CARING FOR A COLOSTOMY BAG
- Regularly change the pouch to maintain hygiene and prevent odors.
- Clean the stoma and surrounding skin carefully with mild soap and water.
- Ensure a proper fit of the pouch to avoid leaks.
In conclusion, whether a colostomy bag is permanent or temporary depends on the underlying medical conditions and the surgical decision made by the healthcare team. Temporary colostomies are often used for healing purposes and can be reversed, while permanent colostomies are necessary in cases of severe, irreparable damage. Remember, each person’s situation is unique, and the choice to use a colostomy bag is a medical decision made in consultation with healthcare professionals.