Recovering from a colostomy 

After a colostomy, you'll need to stay in hospital for a few days while you recover.

When you wake up after the operation, you may be attached to several different devices, including:

  • a drip into your vein that provides fluids (an intravenous drip)
  • a tube inserted into your bladder to remove urine (a catheter)  
  • an oxygen mask or nasal tubes (cannula) to help you breathe

These will be removed as you recover from surgery.

A clear colostomy bag will be placed over the opening (stoma) in your abdomen, so it can be easily monitored and drained. The first bag is often larger than normal colostomy bags and is usually replaced with a smaller bag before you go home.

Stoma nurse

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

They'll teach you how to keep your stoma and surrounding skin clean and free from irritation, and also give you advice and treatment if you develop an infection.

The nurse will explain the different types of equipment available and how to get new supplies. For more information, read the page on living with a colostomy.

After you leave hospital, you'll be seen at home by a local stoma nurse. This may be the same stoma nurse you saw in hospital.

Going home

Most people are well enough to leave hospital 3-10 days after the operation.

It's important to avoid any strenuous activities at home that could place a strain on your abdomen, such as lifting heavy objects. Your stoma nurse will give you advice on resuming normal activities.

In the first few weeks after your operation, you may experience excessive flatulence (gas) and unpredictable discharge from your stoma. This should start to improve as your bowel recovers from the effects of the operation.


Page last reviewed: 28/04/2015

Next review due: 28/04/2017