Reducing Stoma Bulge: Seeking Suggestions

Douglas john

Flattening the bulge

Ten years ago, as a result of rectal cancer, I went through major surgery.
The result was that I have a new, and much improved 'Rock Stars Arse' and a colostomy. Once the devastation of chemo was over, you've never seen ballooning like it, believe me, my stoma and I quite got to like each other. I don't think of myself as being incontinent.
I don't mind a 'tummy bum' at all, and I cherish my ritual irrigation time each day, but over the years I've developed a bump round my stoma - a parastomal hernia. It's not massive, purely an irritation.
During the first (UK) lockdown, I stupidly allowed my weight to increase to nearly 16st. Looking in the mirror, I was beginning to resemble Shrek, but not green and not a nice sight at all. (Apologies to Shrek fans)
Also, I saw that during the Covid crisis, people who were fat and/or obese were not faring very well at all.
During the last twelve months, I've lost 3 1/2 stone. No applause, please, we've all been through much, much worse, or we wouldn't be on this site. I now have my waist back, but I still have the stoma bulge, although it has reduced a bit.
I was wondering if anybody had any suggestions as to how to reduce my stoma bulge short of wearing a belt? It's nowhere near a point where medical intervention might be necessary - and I don't think that (in the UK) they would do anything anyway.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

Hello Douglas john.
Thanks for this post as I will be awaiting with great interest if anyone comes up with a solution to the problem of the 'bulge'. I have never had a problem with increased weight, but when I came out of the hospital my waist was enormous compared with how it had been before. I/we assumed that it was a hernia caused by the operation. It has never gone away and it seems to concern my wife far more than me.
I look forward to hearing from other's on this issue!
Best wishes
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There's been a trial running in the UK for about 4 years now to see if doing abdominal exercises when you have a hernia will help make it smaller and prevent it from getting any worse. Haven't heard any more about it, but some light abdominal exercises are worth a try. You can find some safe sit-ups to do with an ostomy online if you do a search. Pilates should be safe too, but check with the instructor first.

Douglas john
I must confess to feeling a bit of a fraud raising a blog about what might be regarded by some as a 'vanity' issue. There are many people who use this site who are suffering far more serious and life changing issues. I guess for me that there's a certain amount of feeling resentful about having to poo through my belly, even if it isn't, for me, an onerous task. We'd all like to be back to 'normal', or as near to 'normal' as possible and the Parastomal bulge irritates me.

Thanks for your ideas, one day I will look like Charles Atlas, and no longer fear having sand kicked in my face when I'm laying on the beach.

Artsy Lady

I recently started physical therapy for a hernia at the site of my colostomy. The therapist said no sit-ups! The first exercise was to lie on my side. Breathe in, then pull your belly button in as you breathe out to the count of 10. Do 10x on each side... There are several more.
Maybe see if your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist. It is important to do it in very specific ways; otherwise, you can make the hernia worse.
Good luck!

Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Hi Douglas,

First, don't worry about whether it's a vanity issue or not... if it's something you want to address, it's all good on here. But if you have a bulge because of a hernia, and not fat stored around your midsection... there's not much that can be done. You have bowel that has pushed its way through a weak point in your abdominal muscle and it is now pushing on your skin. Without pushing it back and sealing the opening through which it is poking through... what is it you think you can change? You can't make the bowel smaller... or make it recede... and you can't make your abdominal muscle thinner... so unless you have really thick skin... or fat under it... there's just nothing to do. Physical therapy for a hernia like yours is designed to strengthen the abdominal muscles so more of your bowels can't squeak through the hole in your muscle... it's not to make the bowel recede back under the abdominal wall. The only way to do that is surgical. The purpose of the belt is to make sure things don't get worse... and I'd advise you to wear it. Depending on how much bowel you still have... it's stuffed in your abdominal cavity really tightly and is exerting a lot of pressure on your abdominal wall. Think of it like a dam developing a crack. If you do things like sit-ups or cough real hard... you could rip that abdominal muscle more, allowing more of your bowel (under pressure from being so cramped in there) to squeak out. I'm not trying to scare anyone, but a hernia isn't a trivial matter. They're usually well-behaved... but some are not. I'd get with an abdominal surgeon, not a colorectal one, and discuss options. Even if it's something you decide not to pursue now, at least you'll know what could be done going forward if things get worse. You don't want to have to figure that stuff out when you're in the ER holding your intestines in your hand waiting to see the doc. And no, it will never come to that (hopefully), but stranger things have happened.

Douglas john

Hi Bob.

Thanks for your message. I appreciate the time you've taken to consider my issue.

It's not a show stopper, just minor, but it's irritating. Still, a slight tummy bulge is far better than the alternative.




These hernias can be so annoying!! Only surgery will correct.. just try not to gain a lot of weight so the hole does not get bigger and exercise to keep your body strong .. walking, biking, swimming.

Douglas john

Hi Marie.

Very good advice. I've lost 3 1/2 stone since last August, and feel like a whole new man. (Now there's a nice thought)


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