What is normal?

What is “normal” with an ostomy?

Lots of people want to know what is normal. Few people have seen other stomas, and most people don’t go around comparing stomas. So what should people expect, and what is normal with a stoma?

  • Is red and moist
  • Has no feeling so it should not hurt
  • Will change size and shape after surgery for the first 8 weeks, or after weight loss or gain of 10 pounds or more
  • Will contract and relax, make a rippling motion, and may become flat or retracted, then come back above skin level again. This movement is called peristalsis, and it is the bowel moving food through your GI tract
  • Can bleed a bit when you wash it
  • Will not become infected – it is not a wound, it is bowel tissue
  • Should look like the skin on the rest of your abdomen
  • Should not feel itchy or uncomfortable, or have a burning sensation
  • Should be predictable and reliable
    • No urine or stool should leak onto your skin between pouching system changes.
  • Is very individual
    • Wear time is based on the type of stoma you have, the consistency of your output, if the stoma opening sits above skin level, your abdominal contours and what type of pouching system you have. The average wear time is four days.
  • Should only occur when you empty or change the pouch. Anything else is unacceptable
  • Can mean there is leakage. All pouching systems are odour proof
  • For people who have had a colostomy or ileostomy
  • Happens because the portion of bowel that comes after your stoma is still making mucus
    • If you sit on the toilet, some might come out. Sometimes it looks like stool.