Can Weight Loss & Weight Gain Affect Our Stoma Site?
DISCLAIMER: bare stoma photos in post
Over the last 3 years, I have seen dramatic changes in my stoma site due to weight gain and weight loss. Writing this post will hopefully help others and give a bit more insight as to how this could potentially cause changes to your stoma site and help if you are having issues.
After a discussion with Alison who is a stoma nurse and my personal experience of weight gain and weight loss over the last 3 years of stoma life, I decided to research and see if there was any online literature on the affect weight loss and gain has on our stoma site. I can confirm after much scrolling through Google that there was a lack of literature to confirm my theory but Alison confirmed that it can indeed affect your stoma site.
My first ever stoma placement was back in 2009. This was on a post-pregnancy belly, my stoma was rather large and the 6 months post-surgery. I experienced a lot of leaks, saggy skin and had an incisional hernia to boot so stoma life wasn’t overly fun for that 3 year period. My weight yo-yoed up and down due to Crohn’s flares, steroids and weight gain vs weight loss when I started back up exercise again.
For the majority of us, surgery carries the rapid weight loss/weight gain in the first 3-6 months post-op and that is when we experience bag leaks, sore parastomal skin and possible changes to both the stoma appliance and stoma accessories (necessities) to aid a comfortable life and healthy parastomal skin.
Every single one of my surgeries has always involved rapid weight loss. This then evens out and I gain weight like a brick as I am the type of girl who loves a bit of cake and has a penchant for chocolate. The main problem I have with weight gain is the effect it has on my stoma. I get dips around the stoma site due to the swelling and bloating of my abdomen and this requires barrier rings to fill in the dips and a convex bag to make sure it doesn’t come off. I have tried and failed spectacularly in trying a flat base plate and within several hours the bag leaks and I am back to using the convex baseplate.
Due to the impact this had on my site I have spent the last 18 months dieting and being more mindful and now I am back down to my healthy weight I have no issues. My bags last me anything between 3-5 days and leaks are but a mere thing of the past. If I had known that weight gain causes both your stoma to swell, change size and cause dips and bumps around the stoma site then I would have been more mindful about both my eating habits and exercise regime.
Weight gain can lead to a higher hernia and parastomal hernia risk. It can also cause dips and rivets around the stoma site and the stoma can also increase in size and possibly protrude more and be more noticeable.
On the same note weight loss can also cause possible issues; the skin around the parastomal site can become uneven and the stoma could also potentially shrink in size so it is always important to measure your baseplate cutting size on a regular basis.
Keeping your site healthy can be a juggling act. Here are some tips on keeping on top of your site:
- Regular measurements of your stoma site so that the baseplate cutting is to the correct size. Rehydration, dehydration, weight gain and weight loss can cause your stoma site to change size and shape
- Barrier rings are great at levelling out the smaller dips and creases – this also gives an added barrier to protect the skin around the site
- Barrier paste – this stuff is amazing for filling in the deeper crevices and dips to the baseplate can sit on an even surface
- Regular reviews with your stoma nurse to check that everything is ticking over nicely
Other experiences with weight loss/weight gain:
- Empowering patients – I live this. I tend to gain when I’m ill, so it really affects many things including my #stoma/#ostomy My belly gets extremely hard & distended, along w the hernias becoming more pronounced. There’s a lot of stretching and deflating that goes on during my 5-7 day wear time
- Mike & nuisance – Too right, if I put on too much weight the bag leaks or pancakes, get v sore. When trim, all hunky dory. Good motivation for us to keep waistline trim
- Stomamanner – When I gained some weight, the #stoma became more active and windy! I’ve been fortunate not to put on weight, even with steroids, but tight trousers or belt have an effect. That was my motivation to lose the lbs.
- Drake Goldwater- I put on a few pounds too many and had issues with the location of my stoma in relation to where my pants rested on my waist, wafer adherence was spotty, and my bag protruded more under my shirts. Add to that feeling like a bloated toad and it was all bad.
- Tiffany – Yup. When I got my stoma I was underweight so skin was flat. About 4 months later (and still now) after gaining weight my stomach is round but there is a dip around my stoma site which is difficult to fill and even out so now I have bag leaks daily.
- Glittery Guts – When I gain weight, my stoma and bag when on is much more protruded. Whereas when I lose weight my stomach goes completely flat. I notice my scar over time with weight gain and loss, has become more prominent and saggy
As always many thanks for reading
This blog post is intended to give advice to ostomates. The information given is based on Louise’s personal experience and should not be taken as clinical advice. Each ostomates’ needs are unique to them and their stoma care routine. Please consult with your Stoma Care Nurse before undertaking any changes to your stoma care routine.