Colostomy - Q&A

What Is A Colostomy?

A colostomy is a surgical procedure where a section of the colon (large bowel) is brought to the surface of the abdomen to form a stoma. A stoma is the opening attached to the abdomen and looks like a small pink crinkly mound. Colostomy stomas tend to look like a round/oval button that either sits slightly raised or flushed to the skin. A bag will then be  attached over the top of the stoma to collect your waste. 

Colostomy/Ileostomy - What's the difference?

Essentially a colostomy is formed using the colon (large bowel) and an ileostomy is formed using a part of the ileum (small bowel). A colostomy will normally be formed if only a portion of the colon has had to be removed due to disease or injury. An ileostomy will be formed if the colon has had to be removed or needs to be completely bypassed for some reason.

The colon is responsible for the absorption of our food matter and fluids so if you have a  colostomy your stools will still be formed as previous to your surgery. With an ileostomy your  stools may be in a liquid form as fluid will not have been absorbed. You can find out more about an ileostomy here.

Two Main Types of Colostomy

Loop Colostomy

A loop colostomy is when a ‘loop’ of your large intestine is pulled through your abdomen and two holes are created close to each other, one hole to allow stool to pass through and the other will still be attached to the redundant rectum and allow mucus to pass through.

Occasionally, you may find that stool can bypass the stoma and pass out through the rectum as normal as the two ends are still joined together. This isn’t something to be alarmed by. Loop colostomies are generally created if your stoma is going to be temporary and you will eventually have a reversal. You can find out more about stoma reversals here.

End Colostomy

An end colostomy is when one end of your colon is pulled through to your abdomen to form a stoma to allow stool to pass through. The remaining redundant portion of your bowel below your stoma, rectum and anus are then usually removed either in the same surgery or a subsequent surgery depending on your circumstance. These types of stoma are usually permanent.

Make Sure You Get The Right Bags For You

The first few weeks/months with a colostomy can be overwhelming and confusing as you can feel that there is so much to learn from how to look after that new little crinkly, pink mound to understanding all the products that are available to you.

The important thing to remember is that there is a choice of bags and products for you and it may be worth trying out different bags so that you find one that is suited to you.

Your stoma home delivery supplier will be able to advise you on what products they may think suit you. Again, you are able  to choose a home delivery service, you don’t have to settle for the one that you have been set up with at the hospital. You can find out who the best home delivery services are here.

Please note: The information throughout these pages should be used as a guide only. Please consult your GP or medical professional for further information about your condition.

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