Living with a stoma

Here you'll find information about life with a stoma 3+ months after surgery, as you become more experienced. Read guidance on how to keep your skin around the stoma healthy.

Skip back to 'Before stoma surgery' (preparing for surgery)
Skip back to 'After stoma surgery' (0-3 months after surgery)

Find the Mio that fits your body

Bodies change, so an appliance that once fit correctly may not continue to do so. Finding the right appliance for your current body profile is important to get the right fit. 

Adjusting to life with a stoma

Staying away from home and holidays

Staying away from home and holidays

Having a stoma needn’t stop you from travelling or start planning a holiday a few months after your surgery. Tips for travelling with a stoma

Holidays and travelling with a stoma


Having a stoma needn’t stop you from travelling. You may, however, need a bit of time to adjust to having a stoma and feel ready to travel. Start by taking short trips, and see how it goes from there.

Whether you are travelling by car, ferry, train or plane, it’s important to be well prepared. Pack a small, travel changing bag and keep plenty of extra pouches and any other supplies you may need with you.


If you are flying, make sure you pack plenty of supplies to take with you on the flight and for while you’re away, plus extra for contingencies. Divide up your supplies in different bags just in case your luggage is misplaced or your flight is delayed. Don’t forget that scissors aren’t permitted in hand luggage, so cut all of your bags to size before you fly.

Don’t be concerned about your pouch expanding due to the change in cabin pressure. Stoma pouches have been designed and tested to withstand pressure changes.

Travelling abroad

Before you travel abroad, check your travel insurance policy to see how your condition and circumstances are covered while away.

In warmer climates, you may perspire more and thus need to change your pouch more frequently. Always make sure your skin is completely dry before applying a new pouch ensure a good secure fit. If necessary, use a hairdryer to dry the area – but be careful not to have the heat setting too hot.

You may also be at increased risk of diarrhoea or dehydration. Drink plenty of water, and take rehydration sachets and medicine to treat diarrhoea, just in case.

Once you are on holiday, remember that you can still do all of the same activities you did before, and relax and enjoy yourself.

Holiday tips:

  • Store stoma pouches in a cool place
  • Use bottled drinking water to change your pouch when out and about
  • Apply suntan lotion after you’ve put your pouch on, as the creams may affect the adhesive
  • Seal and empty used pouches and dispose of them with normal rubbish
  • If you feel a bit self-conscious about leaving bags in your hotel room, use public bins
  • Before leaving for your vacation, find out where you can get professional healthcare assistance at your destination, just in case.

Find out more about travelling with a stoma

Going back to work

Going back to work

After surgery, it’s natural to want to get back to your everyday life as soon as you can. Going back to work may be part of that and, with a bit of planning, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be possible. Back to work after stoma surgery

Going back to work

Thinking ahead After surgery, it’s entirely possible for most people to go back to work. But when and how you do this really depends on how you feel, the type of work you do, and the stoma operation you had. Talk to your employer and discuss your options as soon as possible. It may be possible to return to work part-time; this could be particularly helpful when you first go back as you may still feel tired and need time to get used to new routines.

Try it out

A few weeks before you go back, do a few trial runs where you dress and plan your day as if you were going to work. Think about your diet and when and how many times a day you may need to change or empty your pouch. This will help you to establish routines and plan your day accordingly. Most importantly, it will make you feel prepared.


  • Speak to your employer as soon as you can
  • If possible, build up your working hours gradually
  • Check the available changing facilities at work
  • Pack a small changing bag that you can take discreetly to the bathroom
  • Do trial runs before you start work, thinking about diet and clothing etc.
  • If your company provides healthcare insurance, check whether your condition affects the policy
Exercising and leading a healthy lifestyle

Exercising and leading a healthy lifestyle

An active lifestyle is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, and here’s the good news: Everything counts! Tips for exercising

Tips for exercising

Exercising makes your everyday life less troublesome. Especially in the months after your surgery, where it can really help speed up the recovery, as the physical activity gives you more energy and makes you stronger and better equipped to cope with illnesses. Further-more, exercise can prevent complications that may otherwise occur from sitting or lying down too long.


Being fit can make your solution fit even better

A great side effect of exercising is weight-loss or weight-maintenance. Depending on the shape of your ostomy, a firmer, flatter abdomen could make it easier to get a tight fit from your ostomy appliance, thereby minimizing leakage risks.


Exercise will boost your confidence

As you start exercising, you will feel an almost immediate boost in your awareness of yourself. This apprecia-tion is really good for building self-confidence and could help give you the energy and courage to really get back to the way you lived before your surgery.


How exercise can help stress

An active lifestyle means stronger heart, a better blood circulation, better lung functions and healthier skin among other things. It can also help boost your confidence and give you more energy overall. This can help against any stress you might feel after your operation.


If you are not used to exercise

It doesn’t matter if you didn’t do much exercise before; you can just as well get started now as you could before your operation. You may start out with a daily walk to the end of the block. Later on there are almost no limits to what you can do, as long as you take the right precautions. But you should always ask your doctor or ostomy care nurse to give the green light, before you start exercising.


3 things to be aware of

  1. Be sure to empty your pouch before exercising for greater freedom of movement and a reduced risk of leakage.
  2. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.
  3. Avoid any kind of heavy lifting for the first six to eight weeks after your surgery, as strenuous activities can put you at risk for a hernia.



Walking is an easy, gentle way to get back into

a routine. It is also an activity that you can start soon after surgery. Whether you walk inside (e.g. up and down stairs), or outside in the fresh air, it is an activity that you can gradually increase in both speed and distance.

Tip: If you are doing longer walks or advancing into hiking, make sure you give your body the support it needs with a good pair of walking or hiking shoes.



If your doctor or ostomy care nurse gives you the go ahead, running is a very good way to get and stay in shape. If you are not used to running, you will need to start out slowly, alternating between running and walking.

Tip: Pay attention to the adhesive from time to time. If you want to feel even more secure, using an ostomy belt will help keep your pouch in place.



Don’t avoid the pool because you fear »others will know« about your ostomy, swimming and water aerobics are great ways to keep fit! With your weight supported by the water, swimming gives your muscles a workout with minimal risk of injury. Swimming can also help you develop more flexi bility, and it’s a good option if you are bothered by arthritis.


Tip: Use specialty swimwear to hide your ostomy. Women might consider wearing snug swimsuits with dark colours or busy patterns, while boxer-style swim-ming trunks is a good choice for men. You might also consider wearing a smaller and less bulky pouch.


Ostomy under water

  • If you fear that your appliance isn’t resistant enough to be underwater follow these few suggestions: 
  • Water can cause the edges of your baseplate to lift, so make sure that the edges of the appliance are completely secure.
  • If you use hot tubs, be sure to check your pouch seal. Heat can affect your weartime, so you may need to change your ostomy appliance sooner.
  • If you wear a pouch with a filter, you might need to cover it with a filter sticker.


Strength training

As we grow older, we gradually lose vital muscle mass. Strength training with weights or resistance bands will help you maintain or even build muscle, making your body more enduring and reducing the risk of joint injury, shaping your body and helping you stay lean and healthy. Strength training also makes your body more enduring in other sports and reduces the risk of joint injury, it shapes your body and sends your calorie burning skyrocketing.

Tip: Use a support garment to keep everything »in place«, when you are lifting and/or using abdominal muscles, as heavy lifting can put you at risk for a hernia.


Team sports

Having other people rely on your being there might provide that final spark to get out the door and develop the exercise habit, and many find it easier to overcome self-awareness issues and immerse themselves in team sports, rather than individual sports. Competitive sports can, however, be strenuous, so they may not be the best choice to start with if you haven’t exercised much before. In any case be sure to check with your doctor or ostomy care nurse, before you begin exercising.

Tip: Wear an ostomy belt or girdle to keep the pouch securely in place. In contact sports such as football, rugby tackle, wrestling or kung fu there are protective ostomy guards that can help prevent ostomy injury.


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