An ostomy is a temporary or permanent opening created through surgery that brings a part of the bowel from inside the body to the outside of the body on the abdomen. Ostomies are typically needed when stool can no longer pass the normal way though the digestive system and out the rectum. This procedure can be an option for people with Crohn’s or Colitis, for example, who have inflamed sections in their bowels.
The opening of the bowel on the outside of the body is called a stoma. Stoma’s are usually pink or red in colour, moist, and round or oval in shape. Stoma’s become the new place that the body gets rid of solid waste. People with ostomies do not have control over passing gas or stool because there is no muscle at the opening of the stoma like there is in the rectum. The stool output that comes out of the stoma will look different than the stool a person may be used to seeing from their rectum because the stool is bypassing certain parts of the digestive tract.
Stool comes out of the stoma into a pouch that sticks to the skin around the opening. Pouches come in different sizes and different options to best suit each person’s needs. Part of getting an ostomy is learning how to care for your stoma, empty, and change your pouches!
Colostomy: Created when a part of the large intestine (AKA the colon) is brought to the surface of the abdomen. Stool output may be thicker, since the large intestine absorbs water.
Ileostomy: Created when the end of the small intestine is brought to the surface of the abdomen. Stool output may be loose since less water is absorbed in the small intestine.
If you have an ostomy you can eat whatever you want, although some people will find certain foods make them gassier than others (and this may be different from how your body reacted before having an ostomy). People with ostomies can do most activities that other people can do once their body has healed from the initial surgery! Caution should be exercised with heavy contact sports, though, as they could cause damage to the stoma. You can wear any clothes you want, although some may be more comfortable than others (i.e. tight waistbands). With a little pre-planning, you can also go wherever you want!