When will my ileostomy start to work?

Your ileostomy will usually start to work shortly after your operation, and the output will be watery and green/yellow in colour initially. This will start to thicken to a brown, porridge-like consistency when you start to eat normally. Your output will stay like this as it is no longer passing through the large bowel, where fluid is reabsorbed to create a formed stool.

You will have no control over when your ileostomy works and may not be aware of it happening. Your ileostomy may produce wind, sometimes noisy!

All of this is normal and is to be expected.

It is recommended that people with an ileostomy wear a drainable bag, which would need emptying approximately 6-8 times in 24 hours.

It is important to empty your bag regularly, to ensure that it does not get too full.

If a bag is full, it can be more difficult to empty and may also be more noticeable under clothes. Most people will change their drainable bag every 1-2 days, but it is up to you.

You may still feel like you need to go to the toilet via your anus if your rectum has not been removed. This is perfectly normal. When you do sit on the toilet you may well pass some old stool and/or possibly some mucus.

If you have had your rectum removed and anus closed, there is a possibility you may experience ‘Phantom Rectum’. This is a sensation of wanting to open your bowel in the usual way. It may help to sit on the toilet until the sensation has passed.