It’s important to have good information and resources to prepare yourself for life with an ostomy. I've spent over 20 years caring for patients and now work with the team of certified nurses at Corstrata. We bring wound and ostomy care directly to patients by providing consultations in the privacy of your own home for non-emergent issues.
Your stoma is unique and was created only for you, so there are many pre and post-operative care factors to consider. Here are answers to some of our most commonly asked questions to help you better manage your ostomy. There's no one-size-fits-all approach but these takeaways can help.
Q: How should I prepare for ostomy surgery?
A: Ask your health care provider to assist you in obtaining an appointment with a certified ostomy nurse prior to your surgery. Discuss as many details as possible to help better understand the procedure and what to expect during recovery. Pre-operative stoma site marking is an important decision that should involve your opinion. A certified ostomy nurse can assist your surgeon to identify the best stoma placement.
Q: Is there anything I need to know before leaving the hospital?
A: Being discharged after your surgery can be both exciting and scary. Here are five tips for a smooth transition from hospital to home.
- Practice applying and removing an ostomy system and learn ways to empty the pouch.
- Know where to obtain ostomy supplies and accessories. Ask how much you'll need to order each month.
- Keep a list of phone numbers for people who will assist in your post-operative care; certified ostomy nurses, Home Health Care providers, surgeon’s office, Corstrata, etc.
- After ostomy surgery, you may find that your body reacts differently to certain foods. Find out which foods are preferable and what might be better to initially avoid.
- Identify a support person who can provide you with assistance if needed. This could be a family member or friend who has some knowledge of ostomy care.
Q: The skin around my stoma irritated. When should I seek medical attention?
A: One of the biggest issues for ostomy patients is when the skin gets irritated by frequent contact with urine or stool (depending on the type of ostomy) caused by leaks. It is essential that the skin around the stoma remains clean, dry, and intact for optimal appliance wear time. The appearance of your stoma should look pink, moist, and slightly raised above the skin surface. Consult with your doctor or certified ostomy nurse if you are dealing with constant skin irritation.
Q: How will I know if the skin barrier is fitting around my stoma correctly?
A: The opening of the skin barrier (also known as a flange or wafer) must be cut approximately 1/8” larger than your stoma. If an appliance is fitting well, it should stay in place without leakage for about five days. The skin barrier will not harm the stoma and must cover the peristomal skin to provide protection. A correct fitting pouching system is the best way to prevent skin irritation.
Q: Where can I find information about all of the ostomy appliance systems available?
A: Certified ostomy nurses are experts who can assist you in obtaining the best type of appliance for your stoma and body type. You can also find support on manufacturer websites, as many brands offer free guides and samples upon request. At Corstrata, we provide valuable guidance to assist you in finding the products that work best for you. This advice helps to place orders with medical suppliers for the right ostomy appliances and accessories.
Q: Is there a skincare routine that I should follow at home to prevent irritation?
A: Keep it simple. Warm water is all you need to cleanse the skin around your stoma. Many ostomates shower without the appliance on the day it is scheduled to be changed. Avoid using high residue soaps, lotions, or creams around the stoma area. If you use soap to clean your skin, be sure to rinse it off completely and dry the skin before applying a new appliance system. Barrier rings and stoma skin-prep protectants can be used to help prevent ostomy output from getting under the flange.
Q: I’m going to be traveling away from home. What should I bring with me?
A: Always be prepared! Bring along several days' worth of ostomy supplies in your carry-on bag, and also pack at least double of what you normally use in your luggage. If traveling by train or plane, make sure your carry-on bag is stowed nearby. Choosing pre-cut flanges is a good option for emergency changes to avoid bringing scissors which may not be allowed on the plane. Consider putting on a new ostomy system a day or two prior to departure if your destination is far away.
Q: What’s the best advice you can give to a brand new ostomate?
A: Know that you are not alone. There are over two million people worldwide living with an ostomy. Problems may arise that interfere with your forward progress, but it does get easier over time. Only you can define the role an ostomy has in your life.
Our goal is simple — empowering ostomates to live life better. Help is always available to you at Corstrata. Schedule a consultation online or by calling 1-800-566-1307.