At your pre-surgery visit

Like most people who are preparing for stoma surgery, you may be wondering what to expect.

It is common to wonder if life will change in the immediate weeks following surgery and beyond.

Your team of healthcare professionals will be your best resource for answering all your questions and getting you back into life. Besides your nurse, your team of healthcare professionals may include a variety of people.


When you see your surgeon before your operation, he or she will discuss which type of stoma is best for you. This will depend on the type of surgery you need. He or she will also discuss whether the stoma is going to be temporary or permanent. At that visit, your surgeon may give you the name of a stoma care nurse.


You may have a specialised stoma care nurse. These nurses are sometimes called wound ostomy continence (WOC) nurses, enterostomal (ET) nurses, or stoma care nurses. Both before and after your surgery, your nurse will be your go-to person. He or she will help you prepare for surgery and adjust to living with a stoma. Plus, he or she will be able to talk to you in more detail about the operation, and answer any questions you may have.

When you meet with your nurse for the first time, he or she will find out as much as possible about your individual lifestyle and needs. From this discussion with you, your nurse and surgeon will recommend the best position for your stoma. At the time of your surgery, the nurse will mark this position on your abdomen (tummy) so that the surgeon can see where to form the stoma.

If you would like to meet with someone who has had a stoma, your nurse can make such arrangements. Consider him or her your teacher-and your partner.

If a specialized stoma care nurse is not available, you can contact your local stoma care support group. They can put you in touch with someone either in your community, or a healthcare professional who can provide you with the guidance you need.


Facing surgery can be difficult and stressful, and you might not remember all the questions you have. You may want to prepare a list of questions to ask your healthcare professional. 
Below are a few suggestions:

  • Where will my stoma be (height, position, size)?
  • Will my stoma be permanent or temporary?
  • What will my stoma look like (size, colour)?
  • How does the stoma work-how often should it discharge and what is the output?
  • Will my stoma be visible under my clothes?
  • What does a pouch look like (size, types, colours, style)?
  • How do I change the pouch?
  • Will the pouch leak?
  • Where do I get supplies?
  • How much do they cost?
  • Will I have to change my diet (food/alcohol)?
  • When can I go back to work?
  • Will I be able to go out with family and friends?
  • How will it affect my sex life?
  • Will I be able to travel?
  • Where can I get help and support?
  • Will I need any special care when I get home from the hospital?
  • Will my medical insurance require a referral?
  • Will my medical insurance cover the procedure?

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