Preparing for ostomy surgery

If you are facing ostomy surgery, you are likely dealing with a lot of emotions – ranging from fear of the unknown to hope that your quality of life will soon be improved. The more prepared you are before surgery, the more confident you will feel as you embark on your recovery.

“I can fly on planes and go to the movies or theater without having to worry about where I am going to sit and whether I‘ll be able to make it to the bathroom in time. And best of all, I am NOT IN PAIN, which has lifted a huge physical and psychological burden and added an enormous level of enjoyment to my life.”

Anita, Ileostomy

Partnering with your medical team

Make the most out of the first appointment

Dr. Sonia Ramamoorthy, colorectal surgeon, shares how to make the most out of the first appointment with your surgeon.

Questions to ask your surgeon

Dr. Sonia Ramamoorthy, colorectal surgeon, suggests the questions to ask your surgeon:

10 questions for your surgeon from the American College of Surgeons
Understand pain management options post-surgery to discuss with your surgeon provided by the American College of Surgeons
Watch a pre-op appointment with WOC nurse Angie Gilbert, to help answer your questions and explain the importance of stoma site marking.

Learn about your procedure

What is a colostomy / ileostomy?

What is a urostomy?

“My dear ostomy nurse gave me more than just tips on how to take care of my stoma. She has played a huge role in my deciding what direction to go with life. I hope to one day help someone the way she helped me.”

Julianne, Ileostomy

Add a WOC Nurse to your team

If you or a loved one is facing ostomy surgery, having a Wound, Ostomy and Continence (WOC) nurse on your team is a tremendous asset. Evidence shows that patients in facilities with WOC nurses had significantly better outcomes, compared to those without WOC nurses. Ask your surgeon if you will have access to a WOCN.

You can find one in your area or connect virtually with a WOCN through the UOAA Ostomy Clinic.

Watch a pre-op appointment with WOC nurse Angie Gilbert, to help answer your questions and explain the importance of stoma site marking

Find a colorectal surgeon

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Before surgery

What should I do before I go to the hospital?

  1. Arrange childcare and pet care as necessary.
  2. Pay bills or set up auto-pay.
  3. Remove any clutter or cords as well as area or throw rugs that could impede your mobilization around your home.
  4. Arrange household items you may need so that they are easily accessible and positioned to minimize stairs, bending down or reaching high.
  5. Wash your hands often and avoid people who are ill.
  6. Prepare meals for yourself, buy frozen or easy to prepare meals, or arrange for meals to be delivered.
  7. Be prepared for a skin check. Keep your skin healthy. If you have open wounds, bites, sores, scratches, or rashes anywhere on your body, your surgery may be cancelled.
  8. Schedule your first postoperative visit based on your doctor’s recommendation.

What should I pack?

  • Pack minimally
  • Paperwork 
  • Picture ID 
  • Copayment or other payment 
  • List of medications you are currently taking 
  • Cell phone 
  • Ear plugs and eye mask to help you sleep 
  • Phone charger with long cord
  • Your own pillow
  • Glasses or contact lenses
  • One or two small pictures of loved ones
  • Journal to record your recovery or take notes

Do not bring

  • Valuables such as money, jewelry, wallet, or computers. 
  • Your medications – as they will be provided for you in the hospital. 

One week before surgery

  • NO ALCOHOL. If you drink alcohol, stop. 
  • STOP taking anti-inflammatory drugs, herbal supplements, vitamins, and blood thinner medications as directed by your doctor. 
  • STOP shaving, waxing, or any other hair removal at the surgical site. 
  • STOP taking any medications as advised by your care team. (Motrin, ibuprofen, or other aspirin products). 
  • If you have changes to your health or if your surgery needs to be postponed, call your doctor 
  • Prepare your home for post-surgery. This includes placing common items (clothes, food, toiletries) in easy-to-reach areas.  

Day before surgery

  • Begin fasting eight hours before surgery. This will help decrease anesthesia side effects including nausea, vomiting, or an upset stomach. You may take a small sip of water to take any allowed medications the morning of surgery. 
  • Stop chewing gum. This includes both the day before surgery and the day of surgery. Chewing gum increases the production of saliva and this leads to an increase in the amount of fluid in the stomach. 
  • Remove nail polish from your toes and fingers. Cut your nails short. Shower and wash your hair.  
  • Go to bed early and get a good night of rest.  
  • Use positive self-talk and tell yourself “I’ve got this. I may need a little help, but I can do this!”  

Wondering what your life after
ostomy surgery will be like?

Read the five questions most often
asked about life with an ostomy

Read Now