Recovering from an ileostomy procedure 

After an ileostomy procedure, 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 a drip placed directly into your vein that provides fluids (an intravenous drip) and have an oxygen mask or nasal tubes (cannula) to help you breathe. These will be removed as you recover.

A special bag is also 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're recovering in hospital, a stoma nurse will teach you how to care for your stoma, including how to empty and change the bag.

They'll also teach you how to keep your stoma and the surrounding skin clean and free from irritation. The nurse will explain the different types of equipment available and how to get 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 like your general health and the type of operation.

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'll often be advised to avoid more strenuous activities for about three months.

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

Page last reviewed: 29/03/2016

Next review due: 31/10/2018