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Stoma changes: what’s normal?

Just like every person’s belly button is distinct, your stoma shape is unique to you. Part of getting the best fit for your ostomy pouch – and preventing leaks – is carefully monitoring your stoma for changes.

 

Stoma Appearance

A healthy stoma will appear red and moist – it looks a lot like the lining of the inside of your mouth. The stoma will be circular or oval in shape. Typically, the stoma will jut out about 1” from your abdomen.

 

Post-Surgery

In the weeks after your ostomy surgery, the stoma will be swollen. To protect the skin around your stoma, you’ll need to measure your stoma size and then cut the skin barrier to fit. Generally, you want to cut the shape to be no more than 1/8” larger than the stoma for the best fit.

 

Stoma Shape

Your stoma shape may change over time. A weight gain of more than 10 pounds may cause the stoma to be more flush with the skin, instead of sticking out. If you’re experiencing leaks, you may need to switch the kind of pouching system you use.

 

Flush or Retracted Stomas

Some people with ostomies may have stomas that are flush with the skin or retract into the skin. A convex pouching system may help the pouching system fit better.

 

Aging

As you age, the skin and muscle around the stoma may lose elasticity or change in other ways that will affect how your ostomy pouch fits.

 

*If you have any concerns about your stoma care, talk to your WOC (Wound, Ostomy and Continence) nurse to figure out whether you need to make a change in the ostomy products you’re currently using.

 

Related articles:
Deciding on an ostomy pouching system
Ostomy care at work
Preventing ostomy pouch leaks
 
SOURCES
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000071.htm
www.ostomy.org/ostomy_info/wocn/wocn_convex_pouching_systems.pdf