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What to Expect After Colostomy Surgery

Colostomy surgery is a life-changing procedure that involves the creation of an opening in the abdominal wall, known as a stoma. The purpose of this surgery is to divert the flow of stool from the colon to a pouch outside the body so that the colon can get some rest to heal properly.

conditions such as diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease require colostomy surgery, after which individuals must adapt to the changes to lead a fulfilling life. A colostomy is not at all a dangerous or life-threatening surgery, instead, it improves the quality of life. However, you will need to adjust the physical and emotional aspects of life after colostomy surgery.

In this article, we will ponder some lights over the life after colostomy surgery followed by some practical tips for navigating this new chapter.

What happens right after the surgery?

In colostomy surgery, your surgeon will make an incision in your abdominal area, cut the injured part of the intestine, and reconnect the remaining segment of the intestine. During this procedure, a surgeon will carefully bring out a small part of the intestine to form a stoma on the abdomen. So that the stool will pass from this stoma instead of passing from the rectum. This stoma is created to give rest to the injured part of the intestine.

After the surgery, you will be kept under observation in the hospital for 3 to 10 days. Your healthcare team will observe the functionality of your stoma and look for any sign of complication associated with the newly formed stoma.

Your surgeon will prescribe you some medications to combat post-operative complications such as infection or pain. You may experience tenderness and soreness in your abdomen which is normal. You don’t have to worry about it. Pain tenderness and swelling will subside within a few days.

Your ostomy nurse will give education to you on stoma care and diet adjustment. She will also inform you about the signs and symptoms of any surgical complications. So that during your stay at the hospital, if you find anything as usual related to your stoma, you may immediately call your nurse. You will also receive education about taking care of stoma and changing and emptying of colostomy bags.

As far as your diet is concerned, you will be suggested to take a liquid diet for a few days until your stoma begins excreting stool.

But once the stoma starts excreting stool, you can gradually move towards a normal diet.

Read More: What is a colostomy bag used for


When your healthcare team assures that the patient is stable and does not have any post-surgical complications and the stoma has now become operational, they will allow you to go home.

Once you are discharged and reach home, it’s time to make certain adjustments in your lifestyle.

Related: What is the success rate of colostomy reversal

Dietary adjustment:

During your stay at the hospital, you were supposed to consume clear liquid fluids such as broth, gelatin, and fruit juice with no pulp. But once you are healed properly, you can start introducing a small amount of food just to evaluate your digestion pattern. It should be started with mild and easily digestible foods.

Since you are in recovery mode, therefore, you should drink an adequate amount of water. Make sure the water should be at room temperature. Avoid consuming carbonated drinks on the initial days of colostomy surgery as they put the digestive system under stress.

It is also advisable to adjust your eating habits such as:

  • Instead of three main meals try to have 5 to 6 small meals throughout the day
  • During meals take breaks of about 15-20 minutes this will aid in digestion
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid the following foods: fiber-rich foods, fruits/vegetables with skin, carbonated drinks, legumes, spicy food, and dairy food with high-fat content.

By following these dietary adjustments you can enjoy your post colostomy life with greater ease.

Related: Why would you need a colostomy bag

Caring For Your Stoma:

Well, your healthcare team has guided you completely about the stoma care and monitoring of any unusual change.

After a colostomy, the biggest change in your daily routine is to take care of your stoma and the skin around the stoma daily. It will now become an important part of your routine that you can’t skip at any cost. Stoma care includes washing the stoma with medicated cleaners and using properly fitted stoma products.

Keep checking the size and shape of the stoma to avoid any further complications. Remember, stoma size and shape change with time.

Also, you should keep an eye on your stoma output and how often should you change the bag. It is advisable to change the colostomy bag when it is one-half full to avoid any unforeseen situation.

Read Here: How dangerous is a colostomy reversal

Weight gain after colostomy surgery:

Usually, people gain weight after colostomy surgery which may be due to one of the following reasons, which varies from individual to individual:

  • Improved tolerance to food
  • A shift towards consuming fewer low-calorie options
  • An increase in the intake of starchy foods to regulate bowel movements
  • alterations in body image
  • and a transformed relationship with food.

Losing weight with certain diets would be difficult as the patient is facing challenges with food tolerance. Therefore, it is advisable to embrace the colostomy and its unwanted effects such as weight gain at least during the initial month of surgery. Once you become used to it, you can shed those extra pounds by adopting any physical activities such as swimming or jogging.

Read here: Do you need a colostomy bag after diverticulitis surgery


Life after colostomy surgery calls for multi-dimensional adjustments. You will have to adapt your dietary changes, followed by incorporating stoma care and monitoring into your daily routine. These are the essential aspects of this journey. But remember, it’s all about embracing colostomy positively. Your positive attitude will not only heal you quickly but you will start thriving happily in this new chapter of life.

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