What if you get a parastomal hernia?

What is a parastomal hernia?

A parastomal hernia is a bulge or swelling around or underneath your stoma. The hernia usually develops slowly and may increase in size over time.

What can cause a parastomal hernia?

When a stoma is created, the end of the bowel is brought out onto your tummy through the muscle of the abdominal wall. This process can cause a weakness or gap in the abdominal muscle. Sometimes a loop of bowel bulges through that gap causing a hernia to develop.

Hints and tips

In the weeks following your stoma surgery:

  • Avoid heavy lifting.
  • Avoid getting constipated.
  • Support your stoma and tummy whilst coughing or sneezing.

In the months following your stoma surgery:

  • Wear a support garment if you are doing heavy work.
  • Keep your back straight, bend your knees and place your feet apart when lifting heavy objects.
  • Take regular, gentle exercise such as swimming or walking.
  • Avoid high impact sports such as rugby, football or strenuous racket sports.

Getting back to your normal life style:

  • Try not to gain weight, or lose a bit of weight if you need to.
  • Always check with your doctor or stoma nurse before starting any new exercise programme or sport.

It is important to remember that:

    • Not everyone gets a parastomal hernia, nor do all hernias cause pain, symptoms or stoma management problems.
    • Most parastomal hernias can be managed using an abdominal support garment. Pelican Support Waistbands are available on prescription in 3 different colours and a variety of sizes.
    • If your parastomal hernia does increase in size, it can make pouch choice and fitting difficult.
    • Surgery to repair a parastomal hernia is always the last resort as there is a very high risk that the hernia will recur.
    • A strangulated hernia is a rare complication. If this happens, you will experience severe pain in your tummy, your colostomy will stop working and will change from its normal bright red colour to a darker, bluish red. Seek help immediately as you will require urgent surgical treatment.

If you need advice or help about pouch management or the use of support garments, make an appointment to see your stoma care nurse.

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