How to Prepare Ahead of Your Ostomy Surgery

It's only natural to feel nervous before a major operation, especially if you have to wait longer than usual. Knowledge is one of the best antidotes for anxiousness, which is why a big part of preparing for your operation should focus on familiarising yourself with the right information.

We can help with that. After all, at Dansac, we've been listening to people living with ostomies for many years now. This article is your guide to the vast and varied library of ostomy educational resources we've created. So, if you’ve got a question or want to find out more information on a topic, there’s guidance you can follow.

None of this will replace the advice given to you by healthcare professionals, of course. But it might help to provide you with a little extra support while face-to-face contact is limited.

A new language
If there's one thing that all ostomates can all relate to before surgery, it’s the overwhelming use of jargon given to them by healthcare professionals. That's why we have decided to create a jargon-busting glossary of ostomy terms, so you can quickly search for easy-to-read definitions in your time. Keep it handy, and you’ll soon find that medical terminology sounds far less intimidating when it’s translated into simple language.

If you’re just beginning your ostomy journey, you might have questions about what a stoma is, how it works, and why someone might need one. To discuss these topics in greater detail, we’ve also created several articles under the umbrella of Understanding Your Stoma. There’s a reference document for each type of ostomy surgery: colostomy, ileostomy, and urostomy.

What to expect after ostomy surgery?
It’s only natural for people undergoing ostomy surgery to have questions about what will happen when they wake up. Topics might include “how to go to the bathroom”, or “when can I start to do activities again?”

Spending a few minutes running through our guide to Your First Days and Weeks with a Stoma might help alleviate any concerns you have about life after surgery.

It's a short, easy read, starting with what you'll experience in the first few hours after the operation. Did you know you might experience a temporarily swollen stoma at first? And that you may wake up with one or more catheters attached to your body? Patients tell us that it helps to put their mind at ease when they know what to expect.

The early weeks of recovery
Our guide then moves on to your period of recovery and adjustment. Being aware of activities to avoid in the early weeks will help to prevent problems that could slow down your recovery.

The main message is "be patient with yourself." Accept that feeling irritable and emotional at times is perfectly understandable.

You are not alone
Millions of people like you have had stoma surgery and are now leading a full life. Hear their stories in our Life With a Stoma video series. There's an accompanying booklet, too.

Watch other ostomates talk about their own experiences. Notice how many of these people say that, for them, living with a stoma has meant taking back control of their lives. It can help you to feel more positive and develop a fresh perspective.

Exercise and fitness
Staying fit is essential after stoma surgery. If you can keep your weight down, it could help you avoid complications after stoma formation. Staying active will also contribute to your general sense of wellbeing.

As our article on General Exercise Tips After Stoma Surgery says, it’s vital that you don’t do any workouts that could be detrimental to your body. It’s essential to start an exercise routine slowly and to stop if something feels uncomfortable. Ask your healthcare professional for guidance if you’re unsure what’s likely to cause more harm than good.

Sex, relationships and your body image
Whether you are in a relationship or not, it's understandable to be concerned about how stoma surgery will affect your sex life. That’s why we’ve created a guide titled “Early Sexual Expectations After Ostomy Surgery”, to help answer any intimacy questions you might have.

This article points out that getting back to your regular sex life, or creating a new one, can be challenging at first. But many people overcome those challenges by setting realistic expectations after ostomy surgery. Here you’ll also find some great tips on building body confidence and adapting your sex life.

If you’re looking for more information about the emotions you might feel after stoma surgery, you can read this long-form guide written by a Professor Michael Kelly, who has been living with a stoma for many years. It's full of insights about how different ostomates have successfully tackled challenges in their relationships and emotional lives.

If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or gender non-binary, you may find this article illuminating. It has lots of information about the positive benefits of being open with your healthcare providers. We’ve also created a booklet called ‘Your Sexual Self’ that discusses how sex, sexuality and sexual expression can be affected by stoma formation.

Eating and drinking
Diet can make a big difference to your speed of recovery after surgery. What to Eat After Stoma Surgery is as straightforward as its title suggests.

Packed with tips about how to eat in the early weeks of your recovery, it perfectly complements the dietary guidelines given to you by your doctor. You’ll also find information on topics such as losing appetite, dealing with blockages, and odours.

What can I wear?
Clothing can be a concern for both men and women as they await ostomy surgery. Lots of people have a personal style that is an integral part of their body image.

That's why we have created this What to Wear When You Have a Stoma article to put your mind at rest. It's reassuring to know that, while loose garments may be advisable at first, most ostomates soon get back wearing their usual clothes.

That's a quick tour through a few of the educational resources you may find useful for adjusting to life with a stoma. The best tip of all is to be kind to yourself – and always ask for support when you need it.