Ileostomy - Recovery 

Recovering from an ileostomy procedure 

After an ileostomy procedure, you will need to stay in hospital for a few days while you recover.

When you wake up after the operation, you may be attached to a drip into your vein that provides fluids (an intravenous drip) and an oxygen mask or nasal tubes (cannula) to help you breathe. These will be removed as you recover.

A special bag will also be placed over the opening in your abdomen (stoma). The stoma will initially appear large because the effects of surgery cause it to swell. It usually shrinks during the weeks after the operation, reaching its final size after about eight weeks.

Stoma nurse

While you are recovering in hospital, a stoma nurse will teach you how to care for your stoma, including how to empty and change the bag.

They will also teach you how to keep your stoma and surrounding skin clean and free from irritation.

The nurse will explain the different types of equipment available and how you go about getting new supplies. See living with an ileostomy for more information.

Going home

You may need to stay in hospital for up to two weeks after the operation, although this varies depending on things such as your general health and the type of operation you had.

Your stoma nurse or surgeon will give you advice about activities to avoid while you recover. Most normal activities are usually possible within eight weeks, although you will often be advised to avoid more strenuous activities for about three months.

Your abdomen will feel very sore initially during your recovery, but this will eventually settle down. You may also find that you experience excessive flatulence (gas), and that the discharge from your stoma is unpredictable, during the first few weeks of recovery. This should start to improve as you recover from the effects of the operation.


Page last reviewed: 17/02/2014

Next review due: 17/02/2016

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Leaving hospital

Find out how you can be discharged from hospital and what arrangements you should make before returning home