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.

What type of stoma bag will I be wearing?

After Ileostomy surgery you will be wearing a drainable stoma bag, which will most likely be transparent or have a viewing window, so that your 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. You may have drips and drainage tubes attached to your body, but there is no reason to be alarmed – this is quite normal.

These will all be removed when appropriate and with very little discomfort.

What is an ileostomy bag?

An ileostomy bag is a stoma bag which is placed over the stoma to collect waste products that usually pass through the colon (large intestine) and out of the body through the rectum and back passage (anus).

Changing your ileostomy bag

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

Below you can find helpful resources and advice on how to change your Ileostomy bag, how to correctly wear your Ileostomy bag and how to take care of your skin around your stoma:

How to change your stoma bag

Find out more

How to wear your stoma bag correctly

Find out more

How to take care of your skin after stoma surgery

Find out more


Helpful videos to prepare you for your ileostomy operation

We have created a series of ‘how to’ video guides for people living with a Ileostomy. These videos are available to view and download.

View videos


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.

Living with a stoma

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