Welcome to the Mayo Clinic Ostomy Surgery Page. An ostomy is a surgically created opening in your abdomen that allows waste or urine to leave your body. It takes time to become comfortable with an ostomy. Our goal is to connect you with others and provide you with information and support.

Follow the Ostomy page to learn about ostomy care, read experiences of others and find resources for all your ostomy needs. Post a comment and share your thoughts.


Ostomy Pouch

A variety of pouching systems are available for ostomies. Your WOC nurse will help you decide which type of pouching system is best for you.

Pouching systems have a skin barrier that protects the skin around your stoma. The opening in the skin barrier should fit closely around the edges of your stoma to protect your skin as much as possible.  Stool and urine in contact with skin over time will cause healthy skin to breakdown.

You will be taught to empty your pouching system from the bottom. The pouching system can be emptied as often as needed.  The pouching system should be emptied when it is about one-third full.  This keeps it from showing under clothing and avoids excess weight which may loosen the seal.

The pouching system is usually changed every 3 to 5 days based on the type of ostomy and output.




Output for each type of ostomy

Ileostomy: Stool is semi-formed to loose

Colostomy: Stool is soft to well formed

Urostomy (Ileal Conduit): Urine is continuous with minimal mucus present


Helpful Tips for caring your pouching system

Change your pouching system in the morning before breakfast

Before you empty your pouch, spread toilet paper on top of the water in the toilet. This will help prevent splashing.

Use a full-length mirror when you check your stoma and apply the pouching system.

Stand whey you put on your pouching system. This helps you avoid skin wrinkles around your stoma.

Keep an extra pouching system with you at all times in case of an emergency.



Gas and Odor Management

Odor is a common concern for people with ostomies. Although the pouching systems are odor-proof, there will be some odor when you empty it.  There are many options available to manage odor, including diet manipulation and deodorant sprays and drops.

All pouches are odor proof. If odor is detected, the integrity of the seal needs to be examined.  If odor continues to bother you, ask your WOC nurse for help.


Bathing and Swimming

Your pouching system is water proof. This means you may shower or swim with your pouching system in place.  You do not need to cover the pouching system or the stoma while bathing.  Avoid letting the full force of the shower spray directly on your stoma or pouching system.  This helps prevent injury to the stoma or loosening of the pouching system.

Clean the skin around your stoma with warm water and a soft cloth. Make sure the skin is clean and dry before putting on the pouching system.  Soap is not needed.  Soap will not harm your stoma, but if used, be sure to rinse off any soap film from the skin around the stoma.  Do not use bath oils or soaps with added oil or lanolin.  These products will cause the adhesive to not stick to your skin and could cause irritation to your skin.

You may swim with your ostomy. Swimsuits with a pattern or design in the fabric may be more concealing.  To build confidence, you may want to wear a swimsuit while you sit in a bath tub.

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