What is a colostomy bag?
A colostomy bag is a stoma bag that collects fecal matter from the digestive tract through an opening in the abdominal wall called a stoma.
A colostomy bag will be attached to the stoma after your colostomy operation.
What type of stoma bag will I be wearing?
After your surgery, you will be initially wearing a drainable stoma bag as your stool may be liquid.
The bag will most likely be transparent or have a viewing window, so that your Stoma Care Nurses can check on the colour and size of your stoma easily.
The nurses will empty your bag until you are feeling well enough to do this yourself.
What to expect after colostomy surgery
You may have drips and drainage tubes attached to your body, but there is no reason to be alarmed – this is quite normal.
If you are having a loop colostomy formed, it is also possible that you may have a “bridge” which goes underneath the loop stoma.
This is a supporting rod which keeps the loop stoma in place for the first few days.
This, along with the drips and drains, will all be removed when appropriate and with very little discomfort.
Below you can find links to our closed and drainable stoma product range:
When will my colostomy start to work?
Your colostomy will usually start to work within a few days of your stoma operation.
You will have no control over when it works and may not be aware of it happening.
Your colostomy may produce wind, sometimes noisy! Your stool will thicken as you start to eat and the noisy wind generally decreases.
Changing your Colostomy Bag
Your Stoma Care Nurse may advise you to begin to use a closed (non-drainable) bag which requires changing rather than emptying.
After a few weeks, most people choose to change their bag following a bowel motion. This can generally be between one and four times per day.
This variance is normal and is personal to you. If you were prone to constipation prior to your colostomy surgery, you may well experience it again.
It is recommended you follow general advice to prevent constipation.
If your rectum has not been removed, you may still feel like you need to go to the toilet via your anus. 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.
Below you can find helpful resources and advice on how to change your colostomy bag, how to correctly wear your stoma bag and how to avoid skin irritation around your colostomy:
Helpful videos to prepare you for your colostomy operation
We have created a series of ‘how to’ video guides for people living with a colostomy. These videos are available to view and download.
Living with a stoma
Let us help you deal with all aspects of living with a stoma, from those first few weeks after surgery to everyday lifestyle advice, including travel tips, exercise, diet and relationships and much more.