A stoma can change shape and size!

I had a fresh supply of ostomy products yesterday, so this morning I did a quick shape and size adjustment when changing my bag. I had already seen that a little bit of skin was exposed through the viewing window of my bag, so I wanted to nip that in the bud before my output damaged my skin!

I know many ostomates have their bags pre-cut, which is great if your stoma stays the same, but mine hasn’t. Since having this stoma, I have gained weight, lost weight, and taken up exercise, all of which have impacted my stoma, and the skin around it (peristomal skin). Changes in shape can also occur for other reasons such as a hernia, pregnancy, or prolapse, etc.

When a stoma is first created, it will often be very swollen, so regularly checking the shape and size is advised. It can take up to six weeks for the swelling to completely disappear, and if you’re also gaining weight after surgery, it could be a good couple of months before your stoma has really “settled” in.

That created such a cute image in my head, of a stoma snuggling down and getting comfy.

How I checked the size and shape

I simply laid my last cutting template over my stoma, and checked it out in the mirror. I have made a slight adjustment, so I will make sure that it was a good fit when I do my next change, and then cut the rest of my bags to the new template if it is. If not, I’ll do another adjustment until I get it right.

I did take a look through the viewing window, and it looks good!

The right fit

The template should fit snugly around the edge of your stoma, but not be touching the stoma itself. As the intestine pushes food through, it will usually contract, causing it to get slightly larger AND smaller. You do not want to restrict this movement or cause damage to the stoma while it’s doing its thing. A hole that is slightly too small may cause a stoma to become sore and to bleed. If you struggle with creating a new template, your stoma nurse should be able to help!