A stoma is an opening through the tummy that is the result of a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy procedure, an operation that diverts one end of the bowel through the opening. Stomas are connected to either the urinary or digestive system, allowing either urine or faeces to leave the body instead of through the usual way of urinating or emptying the bowels.

Generally, a disposable bag is placed over the stoma to collect stools. Stomas can be temporary or permanent. A stoma is flesh-like in appearance and should not cause any pain due to having no nerve endings. A healthy stoma should be red and moist, and it may protrude slightly from the tummy via a circular hole.

There are two types of ostomy: loop ostomy and end ostomy. End ostomies are often permanent, and involve one end of the colon being pulled out through a cut in the tummy and stitched to the skin to create a stoma.

When is a stoma needed?

A stoma can be carried out for many reasons, for example if somebody cannot pass stools through the anus, has experienced life-altering or life-critical illnesses such as bowel cancer, Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis, and in cases of bowel incontinence. Stomas are needed by people of all ages, from newborn babies to the elderly.

Stomas are most often positioned on the left hand side of the tummy, below the waist.


Most people are able to go home between three to 10 days after their stoma procedure. It is recommended not to lift heavy objects. Patients are assigned a specialist stoma nurse who will advise on best practices following surgery, including how to adapt to a life with a stoma.

Living with a stoma

To begin with, adjusting to life with a stoma has many considerations. Skin care is a crucial component to ensuring your stoma is healthy. It is important to keep the area around the stoma clean and dry in order to prevent soreness. Perfumed products and gels and lotions using alcohol should be avoided as they can aggravate the skin. A fibre-rich diet and keeping hydrated are key components to maintaining a healthy stoma.

    To find out more or make an appointment with Mr Hornung, please call 0161 495 6148