Going Back to Work After Ostomy Surgery

Laura Cox, LPC
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
05/03/23  1:59 PM PST
work after ostomy surgery

Once you’ve had some time to recover after ostomy surgery and you’re feeling well, returning to work may benefit your continued recovery. Having a reason to have to stand up and walk will improve your stamina and reintegrating back into your daily life will feel good.

Keep reading for tips, or click the button below to watch my video on returning to work after ostomy surgery:

If you feel you do not yet have the energy to go back full-time, talk to your employer about the possibility of beginning with part-time and increasing the hours until you’re back full-time. It may also be helpful to talk to your boss and the human resources department about what resources are available to support you while you are recovering and returning to work. Bring a letter from your doctor and/or surgeon to help speak with your employer about your needs.

Make an appointment with your direct supervisor to address any of your concerns and to communicate with him/her what he or she can expect from you in the next couple of months. Have an open dialog about your needs (like longer breaks, late arrival, etc.) and explain why you have those particular needs. This will be helpful to both you and your supervisor during your recovery.

If your job requires physical exertion, talk to your doctor and describe what your job entails. They may give you insight into when it’s safe for you to return to work. The doctor may also make suggestions like investing in a hernia belt or stoma guard if your job puts you at risk of a herniated stoma or hitting your stoma by accident. You should be able to return to whatever line of work you were in before (although healing time may vary).

There are some other steps you can take to make your transition back to work as smooth and easy as possible:

  • Try on some work clothes prior to going back to work and find outfits that are comfortable for you. After my surgery, I purchased a few pairs of dressier pants with elastic waistbands because regular dress pants were too tight to wear for a few months after surgery. Once you’re healed and feeling well, you should have no issue wearing any of your old clothes.
  • You may want to apply for a temporary handicapped parking pass if walking still takes a lot of energy for you.
  • Make sure you keep a few doses of each medication you take in your desk drawer. If you are in a bit of pain or have a loose stool that is causing you to be dehydrated, you have what you need to take care of your issue without having to go home to get your medications.
  • Keep extra ostomy supplies either in your car or in a desk drawer. In case you have a leak, you’ll be well-prepared.
  • It may also be handy to keep a heating pad in a drawer if you go back to work while your abdomen is still sore.

Hopefully, these tips were helpful to get you back to your way of life in no time! We hope you’re healing is going smoothly and that you’re happy and healthy! -Laura

For more information, see related ostomy surgery recovery articles and ostomy resources here:

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