Background info

Abdominal hernias are caused by a weakness or defect in the muscles of the abdominal wall, allowing organs or tissues to protrude through the weakened area. Surgery is often the recommended treatment for abdominal hernias because it aims to repair the weakened muscles and close the opening through which the hernia has occurred. However, there are several reasons why surgery may not always fully fix abdominal hernias.

Hernias can sometimes recur even after surgical repair. This can happen due to factors such as the quality of the repair, the patient’s individual healing response, or the presence of underlying conditions that increase the risk of hernia formation.

In some cases, the muscles in the abdominal wall may remain weak even after surgery. This can make the area prone to developing new hernias or can lead to a persistent bulge even after the initial hernia repair.

Surgery, like any medical procedure, carries certain risks. Complications such as infection, bleeding, or damage to surrounding tissues or organs can occur during or after surgery. These complications may affect the success of the hernia repair.

Some hernias are more challenging to repair due to their size, location, or complexity. In these cases, additional surgical techniques, such as mesh reinforcement or specialized procedures, may be required to strengthen the abdominal wall and achieve a successful repair. However, even with these techniques, there is still a possibility of recurrence or complications.

It’s important to note that while surgery is the primary treatment option for most abdominal hernias, it may not always guarantee a permanent or complete fix. The success of the procedure depends on various factors, including the individual patient’s circumstances and the specific characteristics of the hernia.

Hernia after abdominal surgery

A hernia can sometimes occur after abdominal surgery. This type of hernia is known as an incisional or ventral hernia. It happens when the muscles and tissues in the abdominal wall weaken or separate near the surgical incision, allowing organs or tissues to protrude through the opening.

The surgical incision weakens the abdominal muscles and tissues, making them more susceptible to herniation. Factors such as excessive strain, improper wound healing, or inadequate closure of the incision can contribute to this weakness.

Infection at the surgical site can impair the healing process and weaken the abdominal wall, increasing the risk of hernia formation.

If the surgical incision is not closed properly or if the closure technique used is not sufficient to withstand intra-abdominal pressure, it can lead to hernia development.

The surgical technique used during the initial procedure can also play a role. If the incision is made in a way that disrupts the integrity of the abdominal wall or if excessive tissue is removed, it can increase the risk of herniation.

Preventing incisional hernias can be challenging, but there are steps surgeons can take to reduce the risk, such as using appropriate closure techniques, reinforcing the incision site with mesh, and minimizing tension on the wound during closure. However, despite these precautions, hernias can still occur.

If a hernia develops after abdominal surgery, it may require additional surgical intervention to repair the hernia and strengthen the abdominal wall. The specific treatment approach will depend on factors such as the size and location of the hernia, the patient’s overall health, and the surgeon’s expertise. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional if you suspect or have developed a hernia after abdominal surgery. They can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend the most appropriate treatment options.

Support belt after Cesarean Section

Using a support belt after a cesarean section (C-section) is a common practice to provide additional support and comfort during the recovery period. A support belt, also known as an abdominal binder or postpartum girdle, is a wrap-around garment that provides gentle compression and stability to the abdominal area.

The support belt can help alleviate discomfort and provide relief to the abdominal muscles and incision site. It can help reduce the sensation of pulling or stretching in the area, which is common after a C-section.

The belt provides support to the weakened abdominal muscles, helping them regain their strength and tone. It can also help promote proper alignment of the incision, potentially reducing the risk of complications.

Wearing a support belt can offer additional stability and reduce the feeling of vulnerability, allowing new mothers to move more comfortably during their recovery. It can aid in activities like walking, standing, and sitting, by providing gentle compression and support to the abdominal area.

Wearing a support belt can provide a sense of security and reassurance, especially in the early stages of recovery when women may feel vulnerable or concerned about their incision site.

It’s important to note that while support belts can be beneficial, they are not a substitute for proper postoperative care and rest. They should be used in conjunction with the guidance and recommendations of your healthcare provider.

It’s also crucial to choose a support belt that is specifically designed for post-C-section use and is comfortable to wear. It should be adjustable, breathable, and not too tight to avoid interfering with circulation or causing discomfort. Consulting with your healthcare provider or a postpartum specialist can help you select the appropriate support belt and provide personalized advice based on your individual circumstances.

Ostomy bag attachments

ostomy bag, also known as a pouch or appliance, is a medical device used by individuals who have undergone ostomy surgery. Ostomy surgery involves creating an opening (stoma) on the abdomen to divert the flow of bodily waste (urine or stool) from the digestive or urinary system into a bag or pouch.

There are several types of ostomy bags available, and the specific attachments or accessories may vary depending on the brand and model.

The skin barrier, also called a baseplate or wafer, is the part of the ostomy appliance that adheres to the skin around the stoma. It provides a secure and protective seal. The size and shape of the skin barrier can vary to fit different stoma sizes and shapes.

The pouch is the bag portion of the ostomy appliance that collects and contains the waste material. Pouches come in different sizes, shapes, and closure systems (such as clip, velcro, or adhesive closures) to accommodate individual preferences and needs.

Some ostomy bags have built-in filters to release gas and reduce the risk of pouch ballooning and odors. These filters can help prevent the need for frequent emptying or changing of the bag.

The closure system refers to the method used to empty or change the ostomy bag. It can be a clamp, a clip, a velcro closure, or an adhesive closure. The closure system should be user-friendly and secure to prevent leaks.

Some ostomy bags may have built-in attachment points or loops to allow the use of an ostomy support belt. The belt can provide additional support and security for the ostomy bag, especially during physical activities.

Some ostomy bag attachments include deodorant tablets or lubricating gels. These accessories help control odor and make the bag easier to empty or clean.

It’s important for individuals with an ostomy to work closely with their healthcare provider or an ostomy nurse to select the appropriate ostomy bag and attachments that suit their specific needs and lifestyle.

What is an Ileostomy?

An Ileostomy is a surgical procedure that involves creating an opening, called a stoma, in the abdominal wall. It is typically performed when a portion or the entire large intestine (colon) is removed or bypassed, and the small intestine is brought to the surface of the abdomen. The purpose of an ileostomy is to redirect the flow of waste materials from the small intestine to the outside of the body.

During an ileostomy, the end of the small intestine (ileum) is brought through the abdominal wall, forming the stoma. A pouch, known as an ostomy bag or appliance, is then attached to the stoma to collect stool or digestive waste. The ostomy bag adheres to the skin around the stoma and can be emptied or replaced as needed.

In this procedure, the end of the ileum is brought to the surface of the abdomen, and the remaining colon and rectum are removed. The stool is collected in an ostomy bag.

A loop ileostomy involves bringing a loop of the small intestine through the abdominal wall. This temporary ileostomy is often created to divert the fecal flow temporarily while the remaining bowel heals, such as in cases of inflammatory bowel disease or after colorectal surgery. The loop ileostomy is usually reversed in a subsequent surgical procedure.

Ileostomies are performed for various reasons, including inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease), colorectal cancer, intestinal obstruction, diverticulitis, or certain congenital conditions. The specific type and duration of the ileostomy will depend on the individual’s underlying condition and surgical plan.

It’s important to note that living with an ileostomy requires adjustment and ongoing management. Individuals with an ileostomy often work closely with healthcare professionals, such as ostomy nurses or enterostomal therapists, to learn how to care for their stoma, select and use appropriate ostomy appliances, and address any concerns or complications that may arise.

What is a urostomy?

A urostomy is a surgical procedure that involves creating an opening, known as a stoma, in the abdominal wall to divert urine from the urinary system to the outside of the body. It is typically performed when the normal urinary pathway is disrupted or cannot be used due to various medical conditions or surgeries.

During a urostomy, a section of the small intestine is often used to create a conduit or reservoir. One end of the conduit is connected to the ureters, which carry urine from the kidneys, while the other end is brought through the abdominal wall to form the stoma. The stoma is typically located on the lower abdomen.

When the bladder is removed due to conditions like bladder cancer, a urostomy may be performed to provide an alternative route for urine elimination.

In cases where the normal urinary pathway is disrupted, such as after pelvic surgery or trauma, a urostomy can redirect the urine flow.

Similar to other types of ostomies, a urostomy requires the use of an ostomy bag or pouch to collect the urine. The pouch is attached to the stoma, and it securely adheres to the skin around the stoma. The ostomy bag can be emptied or replaced as needed.

Living with a urostomy involves adapting to the management of the stoma and ostomy appliances. It is important for individuals with a urostomy to work closely with healthcare professionals, such as ostomy nurses or enterostomal therapists, who can provide guidance on stoma care, appliance selection, and maintenance. They can also address any concerns or complications that may arise, ensuring that the person can manage their urostomy effectively and maintain a good quality of life.

Does an ostomy cure Colitis?

An ostomy does not cure colitis, but it can be a treatment option for individuals with severe or refractory colitis. Colitis refers to inflammation of the colon (large intestine) and can be caused by various conditions, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These conditions are chronic and typically require long-term management.

An ostomy, such as an ileostomy or colostomy, can be performed as a surgical intervention to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals with severe colitis. During the surgery, a portion of the colon or the entire colon may be removed, and an opening (stoma) is created on the abdominal wall. This allows waste to bypass the affected part of the colon and exit the body through the stoma into an ostomy bag or pouch.

By diverting the stool away from the diseased or inflamed part of the colon, an ostomy can help relieve symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding. It can also allow the affected area of the colon to rest and heal.

While an ostomy can provide significant relief and improve quality of life for individuals with colitis, it does not cure the underlying disease. The condition can still affect the remaining parts of the digestive tract or recur in other areas. Management of colitis typically involves a combination of medical treatments, lifestyle modifications, and ongoing monitoring by healthcare professionals.

It’s important for individuals with colitis who are considering or have undergone an ostomy procedure to work closely with their healthcare team, including gastroenterologists and ostomy nurses, to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and goals.

Does an ostomy cure Crohn’s disease?

An ostomy does not cure Crohn’s disease, but it can be a treatment option for individuals with severe or refractory Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. It is characterized by periods of active inflammation and symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and weight loss.

In some cases of severe Crohn’s disease that do not respond adequately to medication or other conservative treatments, surgery may be recommended. One of the surgical options is the creation of an ostomy, such as an ileostomy or colostomy.Medical treatments, including medications and lifestyle modifications, are typically used in combination with an ostomy to manage Crohn’s disease symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

During the ostomy surgery, the affected part of the intestine may be removed, and a stoma is created on the abdominal wall. This allows the stool or waste material to bypass the affected area and exit the body through the stoma into an ostomy bag or pouch.

While an ostomy can help alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals with severe Crohn’s disease, it does not cure the underlying condition. Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that requires ongoing management and monitoring. Following an ostomy procedure, individuals with Crohn’s disease may still experience inflammation in other parts of the digestive tract, and flare-ups can occur in the remaining intestine.

Does a colostomy bag make noises?

Yes, it is possible for a colostomy bag to make noises. These noises, often referred to as “gurgling” or “pouch sounds,” can occur due to various factors related to the digestive process and the functioning of the stoma and colostomy bag.

The digestive system produces gas and undergoes muscular contractions to propel waste through the intestines. These movements can result in the release of gas into the colostomy bag, causing audible sounds.

If the contents of the colostomy bag are in a more liquid or semi-liquid form, they can slosh or move around inside the bag, leading to noise.

Certain foods and beverages can produce more gas or cause increased digestive activity, leading to increased noise from the colostomy bag. Foods like beans, cabbage, carbonated drinks, or spicy foods can contribute to this.

Changes in body position or movement, such as bending, stretching, or lying down, can also affect the movement of waste in the colostomy bag and potentially cause noise.

While colostomy bag noises are a common occurrence, they are generally not a cause for concern. They are a normal part of living with a colostomy. However, if you experience excessive or persistent noises, significant changes in the consistency or odor of the output, or any other unusual symptoms, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or an ostomy nurse. They can provide guidance and address any concerns you may have.

Additionally, using certain accessories or techniques like using gas filters or deodorizing products, wearing supportive ostomy belts or clothing, or adjusting your diet under the guidance of a healthcare professional can help manage or minimize colostomy bag noises if they become bothersome.

How often do I change my ostomy pouch?

The frequency of changing an ostomy pouch can vary depending on individual factors such as the type of stoma, the consistency and volume of output, skin sensitivity, and the specific recommendations of your healthcare provider. However, a general guideline is to change the ostomy pouch every 3 to 7 days.

It is generally recommended to change the pouch when it is about one-third to one-half full. However, this can vary depending on the output consistency. If the output is more liquid or frequent, you may need to change the pouch more frequently to prevent leakage.

It is important to monitor the condition of the skin around the stoma. If you notice any signs of irritation, redness, or leakage, it may be necessary to change the pouch more frequently to maintain skin health.

If you are experiencing odor issues, changing the pouch more frequently or using odor-control products may be helpful.

Some individuals prefer to change the pouch more frequently for personal comfort and hygiene reasons. This can be particularly relevant in situations where the pouch feels heavy or uncomfortable.

It is recommended to establish a regular routine for changing the ostomy pouch based on your individual needs and the advice of your healthcare provider. They can provide specific guidance based on your stoma type, skin condition, and personal preferences.

Remember to always follow proper hygiene practices, including thorough handwashing, when changing your ostomy pouch. If you have any concerns or questions about your specific situation, it is best to consult with an ostomy nurse or healthcare professional for personalized advice and support.

Change frequency

The frequency of changing your ostomy pouch can vary depending on factors like your stoma type, output consistency, skin sensitivity, and healthcare provider’s advice. In general, it’s recommended to change the pouch every 3 to 7 days.

Consider changing the pouch when it’s about one-third to one-half full or more frequently if the output is liquid or frequent. Keep an eye on the skin around the stoma and change the pouch if there’s irritation or leakage. If odor is a concern, consider changing the pouch more often or using odor-control products.

Ultimately, establish a routine based on your needs and healthcare provider’s guidance. Practice good hygiene, including handwashing, during pouch changes. Consult an ostomy nurse or healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Can i work at strenuous activity with ostomy?

Yes, many individuals with an ostomy are able to engage in strenuous activities and continue working in physically demanding jobs. While having an ostomy may require some adjustments and considerations, it does not necessarily prevent you from participating in strenuous activities or working in physically demanding roles.

If you’re returning to physical activity or starting a new job that involves strenuous activity, it’s important to build your strength gradually. Start with lighter tasks and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your activity over time.

Wearing an ostomy support belt or specialized clothing can provide additional support and help protect your stoma during physical activity. These accessories are designed to hold the pouch securely in place and minimize the risk of it becoming dislodged or causing discomfort.

Before engaging in strenuous activity, make sure your pouch is empty to minimize its weight and reduce the risk of leakage or discomfort during physical movement. Plan your timing accordingly, allowing enough time for emptying and ensuring a secure seal.

There are different types of ostomy pouching systems available, including options specifically designed for active individuals. These systems may offer enhanced security, flexibility, and durability to accommodate physical movements and prevent leakage during strenuous activity.

It’s important to stay properly hydrated and maintain a balanced diet to support your overall health and well-being.

Remember, everyone’s abilities and comfort levels may vary, so it’s crucial to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed.

What is the best type of ostomy support bag?

The best type of ostomy support belt or bag will depend on your individual needs, preferences, and the type of ostomy you have. There is no one-size-fits-all answer as different products work better for different people.

Look for a support belt or bag that is comfortable to wear for extended periods. Consider the materials, adjustability, and padding or cushioning features that can provide a comfortable fit around your abdomen.

Ensure that the support belt or bag offers a secure and stable fit, keeping the ostomy pouch in place during physical activity. Look for features such as adjustable closures, wide waistbands, and reliable attachment systems to prevent the pouch from shifting or causing discomfort.

Consider belts or bags that are made from breathable materials and have moisture-wicking properties to help keep your skin dry and minimize irritation or skin-related issues.

Look for a support belt or bag that allows for freedom of movement and doesn’t restrict your range of motion. This is particularly important for individuals engaging in strenuous activities or physically demanding jobs.

Ensure that the support belt or bag is compatible with the specific type and size of your ostomy pouch. Some products are designed for specific pouching systems, while others offer more versatility and can accommodate various pouch types and sizes.

Consider any additional features or accessories that may be important to you, such as pouch covers, integrated pouch holders, or options for concealing or securing the pouch.

How do I manage an abdominal hernia AND a stoma?

Managing an abdominal hernia and a stoma simultaneously requires careful attention to both conditions.

It’s crucial to work closely with your healthcare team, including an ostomy nurse and a surgeon specializing in hernia management.

Proper stoma care is essential to maintain its health and prevent complications. Follow the recommendations provided by your ostomy nurse regarding stoma cleaning, appliance changes, and skin protection. Ensure a secure and proper fit of the ostomy pouching system to minimize the risk of leakage.

Consider using an abdominal support belt or hernia belt specifically designed for individuals with a stoma and hernia. These belts provide support and help to manage the hernia by applying gentle pressure. Discuss with your healthcare provider to determine if a support belt is suitable for your situation.

Depending on the size and severity of the hernia, your healthcare provider may recommend conservative management or surgical intervention. If surgery is required, the surgical approach may involve repairing the hernia while also taking into account the presence of the stoma.

Engage in activities and exercises that are approved by your healthcare team. They may recommend modifications or precautions to avoid putting excessive strain on the hernia or the stoma. Avoid lifting heavy objects and practice proper body mechanics when performing daily tasks.

Maintaining a healthy weight and proper nutrition can help prevent further strain on the hernia and support overall well-being. Consult with a registered dietitian who can provide guidance on a balanced diet that meets your specific needs.

To manage an abdominal hernia and a stoma

Consult with healthcare professionals: Work closely with your healthcare team, including an ostomy nurse and hernia specialist, for personalized guidance.

Follow the instructions provided by your ostomy nurse for proper stoma care, including cleaning, changing the pouch, and protecting the skin.

Consider using an abdominal support belt or hernia belt designed for individuals with a stoma and hernia. These belts provide support and may help manage the hernia.

Your healthcare provider will advise on the appropriate management approach for your hernia, which may involve conservative measures or surgical intervention.

Follow your healthcare team’s advice on activities and exercises to avoid straining the hernia or stoma. Practice proper lifting techniques and avoid excessive strain.

Maintain a healthy weight and follow a balanced diet as recommended by a registered dietitian.

Stay in touch with your healthcare team for ongoing monitoring and adjustments to your treatment plan.

What is an ET nurse?

An ET nurse, also known as an Enterostomal Therapy nurse or an Ostomy nurse, is a specialized healthcare professional who provides care and support to individuals with stomas, wounds, and related conditions. These nurses are trained to assist patients in managing various types of ostomies, such as colostomies, ileostomies, and urostomies, as well as complex wound care.

ET nurses undergo additional education and training to develop expertise in stoma care, including the assessment, management, and education related to stomas and their associated appliances (such as ostomy pouches). They work closely with patients who have undergone ostomy surgery, providing guidance on pouching techniques, skin care, and addressing any concerns or complications that may arise.

In addition to stomas, ET nurses also have expertise in wound care, including the management of chronic wounds, pressure ulcers, surgical wounds, and other complex or challenging wounds. They have knowledge of wound assessment, dressing selection, wound healing techniques, and patient education.

ET nurses often work in hospitals, clinics, home care settings, or specialized wound care centers. They collaborate with a multidisciplinary team, including surgeons, wound care specialists, and other healthcare professionals, to provide comprehensive care to individuals with stomas and wounds.

If you have an ostomy or wound-related concerns, consulting with an ET nurse can be highly beneficial. They can provide valuable support, education, and resources to help you effectively manage your condition and optimize your quality of life.

Collect all the necessary supplies, including a new pouching system (pouch and wafer), adhesive remover wipes or spray, ostomy pouch scissors, clean towel or washcloth, mild soap and water or specialized ostomy cleanser, and a mirror (optional).

Find a clean and well-lit area where you can comfortably change your pouch. You may want to place a towel or disposable pad beneath you for easy cleanup.

Gently peel off the old pouch, starting from one corner, while supporting the skin around the stoma with your other hand. If the pouch is adhered firmly, you can use an adhesive remover wipe or spray to help loosen it.

Use mild soap and water or a specialized ostomy cleanser to clean the skin around the stoma. Gently pat the area dry with a clean towel or washcloth. Avoid using products that contain oils, moisturizers, or alcohol, as they can affect the adhesion of the new pouching system.

Place the wafer over the stoma and ensure that the stoma fits comfortably through the precut hole or trace the stoma shape on the wafer and carefully cut it out using ostomy pouch scissors. Take care not to make the hole too large or too tight.

Remove the backing from the wafer and position it over the stoma, aligning the hole with the stoma. Gently press the wafer onto the skin, starting from the center and moving outward, ensuring a secure and smooth seal. Smooth out any wrinkles or creases to prevent leaks.

Remove the backing from the pouch and align it with the wafer. Press the pouch firmly onto the wafer, ensuring a secure attachment.

If your pouch has integrated closures or a clip, close it securely. If not, you can use adhesive tape or a specialized pouch cover to secure the pouch to your body.

Ensure that the pouching system feels secure, comfortable, and does not restrict your movement. Gently run your fingers around the edges to ensure a good seal.

Dispose of the old pouch in a sealed plastic bag and discard it in the appropriate waste bin. Clean up your workspace and wash your hands thoroughly.

Will my skin burst if my hernia gets too big?

I’m not a doctor, but generally, a hernia occurs when an organ or tissue pushes through a weakened spot in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue. The size of a hernia can vary, and in some cases, it may become larger over time.

While it is possible for a hernia to increase in size, it’s important to note that hernias don’t typically “burst” or rupture in the sense of causing the skin to break open.

However, an untreated hernia can lead to complications, such as incarceration or strangulation.

“Incarceration” occurs when a hernia becomes trapped and cannot be pushed back into place. This can cause pain, discomfort, and potential complications if blood flow to the herniated tissue becomes restricted. “Strangulation” is a more severe condition in which the blood supply to the hernia is cut off, leading to tissue damage and potential necrosis (tissue death). Strangulation is a medical emergency and requires immediate surgical intervention.

If you have a hernia and are concerned about its size or potential complications, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a hernia specialist or surgeon.

They can evaluate your condition, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options based on the size, location, and symptoms of your hernia.