Ostomy Surgery Recovery

Laura Cox, LPC
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
09/15/15  12:02 PM PST
Ostomy Surgery Recovery

Leaving the hospital after surgery is a great feeling, but recovery is not over after you’re discharged! Make sure you continue to take care of yourself while at home. After your doctor has approved you to go home and start resuming a normal diet, there are things you can do to assist your body in the healing process. Read the article below for tips and tricks, or click the button to watch Laura Cox’s video about recovering from ostomy surgery. You can also click on the links below for more information:

1. Lifestyle for Ostomy Surgery Recovery

□ Don’t smoke or drink alcoholic beverages right after surgery – alcohol and cigarettes have both been scientifically proven to slow the healing process and increase risk of infection. Stay away while you’re healing.

□ Keep it clean – practicing good hygiene decreases the risk of infection. Washing your hands regularly reduces the risk of spreading germs to the surgical incision areas later on. Be sure to use warm to hot water, and wash for 20 seconds.

□ Walk as much as you can – walking helps blood flow, and also assists in getting rid of ileus and waking up the intestines after surgery.

□ Keep your pain under control – ask your doctor about pain control after you’re discharged from the hospital.

□ Don’t stress – stress causes a delay in wound healing, lowers immune response, and reduces the necessary inflammation response. Avoid stressful situations and practice stress relieving activities like meditation and relaxation time. *In addition to stress, social isolation slows the healing process, so make a date with a friend!*

□ Get some shut eye – the body focuses on healing itself during sleep, specifically the last stage of the sleep cycle (REM).  Each sleep cycle is approximately 90 minutes, so give yourself a good amount of rest time so you can go through a few cycles! Doctors suggest adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.

□ Ask your doctor before resuming your normal routine – like going back to work, exercising regularly, etc.

2. Diet for Ostomy Surgery Recovery

□ Start slow – introduce new foods one by one, to see what your body can tolerate for the time being. If you can’t tolerate something now, your body may adapt and be able to tolerate it later.

□ Eat plenty of protein – protein helps heal wounds and assists your body in the healing process.

□ Don’t forget your carbs – carbohydrates and Fatty Acids provide energy to your body to use in the healing process

□ Drink lots of fluids – water and fluids with electrolytes are important to help keep you hydrated. Dehydration results in electrolyte imbalance, which decreases cells’ healing ability. For extra credit, drink juice in addition to water to give yourself a vitamin boost!

□ Eat smaller meals more often – this helps reduce gas after surgery.

3. Attitude for Ostomy Surgery Recovery

□ Try your best to maintain a positive attitude – even during difficult times.  If you need help, ask friends and family to help you remain positive and support you.

□ Write a list of five things that are better today than yesterday – for example, about a week after being discharged from the hospital I made it all the way up the stairs without stopping for the first time. I put this on my list and was so happy and proud! Treasure accomplishments, no matter how little they seem!

□ Form a support system – ask family and friends to come over and visit with you, help you with chores around the house, or to bring food.

□ Join a local support group or an online support group – it always feels good to be understood and surrounded by people who have been through similar experiences.

□   Distract yourself – if you start to get antsy, do something you will enjoy, like listen to a book on tape, watch your favorite old movies, go outside to get some fresh air, or take “little field trips” to a coffee shop, a park, or some other place you would enjoy. Getting out of the house is important for your mental well-being.

Contact your doctor with any concerns you have.

Don’t get discouraged if the healing process takes longer than you had anticipated. You will be able to have a larger diet, get back to your daily routines, be as active as you would like and have a fulfilling, happy life after surgery. 

Social isolation and stress are linked to slower healing time. Here are some easy outings while recovering from surgery to keep stress and isolation low.