How Should I Prepare For Stoma Surgery?

Planned or emergency stoma

Some stomas are performed as a result of emergency surgery; others are planned and you will have time to prepare in advance. In all cases though, it can often be difficult to take in everything you are told at the time. It is a good idea to carry a notebook and pen to your consultations, and to jot down any questions you may have in advance.

Stoma Care Nurses and your surgery

In most hospitals specialist Stoma Care Nurses will be closely involved in your care. Stoma Care Nurses are extremely familiar with all the very natural feelings associated with having a stoma, and will be able to talk you through the process. Take advantage of having an expert in your field to chat to and ask anything – there is no question too small, or that you should be embarrassed about. You can also call our CliniMed Careline on 0808 1596017for support and advice.

Learn what to expect

Learning about what to expect can really help with adjusting to your stoma after surgery. Your stoma nurse will demonstrate stoma bag changing to you so you can get familiar with the routine in advance. Understanding the procedure of stoma surgery, how you will probably feel after your stoma is formed, and what to tell others, makes it easier when it actually happens. Your Stoma Care Nurse will probably be able to arrange a visit from a volunteer who has experience of stoma surgery, if you think this would be helpful.

The adjustment process

The process of adjustment probably won’t be immediate, and it can be useful to expect this. It’s likely to take about six to eight weeks to get back to your usual level of activity, and about three months for full recovery. You might feel strange and resent the change to your body, but this is natural, and should gradually fade. Anticipating that this will happen will help you accept it as part of the adjustment process. You may well feel a lot better not to be suffering the effects of the condition which made stoma surgery necessary. Time and time again ostomates report that having their stoma is a great relief after a debilitating illness, and that life is far more ‘normal’ again with a stoma bag.


In short, the more you can find out about stoma surgery and having a stoma before you go in for your operation, the better. Expect that it will take time to fully recover and factor this into your plans. Ask your stoma nurse about anything that bothers or confuses you, and keep a list of helpful phone numbers and website addresses handy (see the Associations page on our website for some useful details), so you know who to contact if you need information right away. Remember that you can always get in touch with your stoma nurse and that you can always ring our CliniMed Careline on 0808 1596017 throughout the week.

For more detailed information about the surgical procedures, please look on our website page about stoma surgery.

Video transcript

close transcript

I have been told I need stoma surgery; how should I prepare?

It's a difficult situation sometimes, because stoma surgery can be needed in an emergency situation or can be a planned operation. So, depending on what type of surgery you're having depends on how much time you've got to prepare.

If it's an emergency situation in the hospital, a stoma care nurse will usually come and see you before your surgery and be able to talk to you a little bit about what's going to happen, what the stoma will look like after the surgery and then you'll have the support from the stoma nurse after the operation.

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