Learn Basics of Having an Ostomy
After your "ostomy" surgery you now have a diversion of either your urine or stool to a surgically created opening in your abdomen called a stoma. This stoma is designed to be fitted to a collection bag for waste. As unglamorous as it sounds, there are much worse things that can happen in life. It's a miracle of medicine that you can continue to live life relatively unchanged by this surgery. Plus, you would be surprised at how many people have a stoma.
Caring for your stoma should be one of your highest priorities!
Facts About Your Stoma
- It is a segment of your intestine.
- Its shape is usually round or oval.
- Your stoma is vascular. This means that it is delicate and can bleed. It's natural color is red or pink.
- Stomas can be flush with your skin or even protrude out a little.
It is very important to keep urine and fecal matter clear of the skin around your stoma as it can be irritating. If left there for extended periods of time, the skin can break down and create a new host of challenges to seating your ostomy appliance. Most often this happens not because of poor hygiene, but because of leaks. Leaks can be caused by a poor fit of the skin barrier to the stoma and incorrectly sizing the stoma opening. Ostomy skin barriers can be flat or convex and using one or the other depends on what the surface around the stoma is like. If the stoma is retracted or flush, a convex barrier may be used to better seat on the stoma to optimize the fit and reduce leaks.
Between appliance changes you should gently wash the skin around your stoma. If possible, avoid using film wipes or adhesive remover wipes so as to keep you skin in the best possible condition. Many ostomates use these items, but we recommend that they only be used if neccessary. Every time you change your appliance take time to inspect the skin and stoma for anything irregular. If you identify anything of concern contact your nurse and/or doctor.
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