Tips for Flying After Surgery?

pete b

Hi guys 'n gals......this is my first trip on a plane since my op.....anything I need to know?????

Silly question, like, will my pouch expand or anything under cabin pressure?

I must admit to being a tad nervous of flying, I've flown plenty of times before and not nervous.

Off to Malta by the way.


Pete B


Really not a big deal. Nothing happens to your bag. Pick an aisle seat. Keep an extra bag and cleanex with you. Keep the bag loose under your shirt so the output flows away from your stoma. Get up as needed to empty. It is rather easy. I travel 3 times a month on planes for work. Never had a problem.

Other than that, enjoy your trip.

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I agree with Kruzer. Being prepared is key....bring extra appliances with you, packed in the carry-on bag. Empty completely before you board the plane and keep things loose. You should be fine. How long is your flight? Because I have an ileostomy, I usually don't eat much prior to my trip to limit the output. I eat something easy like a soft-boiled egg, a piece of toast, a cup of tea, and juice. I can usually go several hours before I need to utilize the facilities. Good luck and enjoy your trip. LH


Empty or change your bag before boarding. Everything should be the same as before. You may want to have a doctor's note just in case security bothers you. Search this topic if you want more info.

pete b

Thanks people..... I feel a little more relieved. I also have an ileostomy, so I don't usually eat or drink before I go out, not good for me I know as I'm still trying to put weight on.

Flight is about 4 1/2 hours... and I will have a spare everything... just in case.

Thanks again

Pete B

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Good advice here, Pete. During X-ray, TSA sometimes scoffs at the dark spot around your midsection. I traveled a lot for work several years ago and only had to explain what it was to one TSA agent, out of hundreds. She was a young lady and obviously a brand new agent. I casually explained what 'the dark area' was. Being introduced to the concept for the first time, I watched her face crinkle up as she was mortified at the thought. She languished a bit, not knowing exactly what to do, so I asked her if she'd like to check it out, at which point she promptly responded, "Um... No thank you." I laughed a bit and went on my way. It wasn't a problem. I'm surprised more of them don't question us, but you can imagine that if they've been on the job for more than a day, they've encountered ostomies. I also imagine TSA training addresses ostomies. Perhaps the young lady dozed off during that lesson. Lol. Either way, don't worry about it. Have fun on your trip!



I deal with TSA every week. Not a big deal. If it shows up, tell them you have an ostomy. They will ask to swab your hands with a paper sample after you touch your ostomy site over your clothes. They scan the paper sample. Takes about 15 seconds.

You are on your way. I only had to actually show a security officer the ostomy itself but that was in Germany after 9/11. Once he saw the scar and the actual bag, I was on my way to the gate.... never happened again!!!

Don't worry.. They should know how to treat a person with an ostomy...

pete b

Thanks guys........I'm not bothered if someone wants to see it, if it shows on an X-ray, they should really check it out, especially in this day and age ...

What's with the swab thing??


They swab your hands with the paper sample, checking for trace amounts of explosives. Of course, nothing is found on your hand and off you go.


I too have an ileostomy and tell the TSA agent that puts me in the box.....I get pulled aside while a disc-like substance is rubbed on my palm, then I rub my palm back on the disc. It is run through a machine for what I believe is explosives......just takes a few extra minutes. Once I was brought into a private room to view the bag, but I had forgotten and put 'bling' on my bag........I keep it girly.

I also printed a flight card from the Scleroderma Foundation that explains I may need to use the restroom 'NOW'.......I always try to sit in the back and aisle seat close to the restroom. Then I let my flight attendant know about my issue to go I have to have a Jack or Coke when I fly.....I usually do 2 Jacks to one Coke......liquor dehydrates me somewhat. I agree with not eating too much before the flight.......good luck........nothing makes the bag inflate due to cabin pressure......only a bowl of pasta will do that.

Good luck.


I had one trip that was an issue for me in that I could not make the bags stick more than 3 hrs -- it was the adhesion and no matter what I did or what I used it was just not staying. I asked the Dr and in the discussion was that with FAP I must have been having a skin fluid leak -- it happens every so often in other places on the body and I have a medicated tape to use. It never happened again but I make sure I am well prepared -- My suggestion is to make sure to have 3 or 4 bags all precut so you can pop one off and put the other on easier if in flight.

I find it easier traveling than I ever dreamed possible! Have a wonderful trip - I have a 5 1/2 hour one in a few weeks and looking forward to it -- I must say the group here helped me get over my first fears....glad you wrote in and let us hear about your adventure!!

Snookis Mum

Hi Pete -- when I travel, I get a card from TSA which I give to the security people. It is at

I have never had any problems with the bag.

Have a wonderful trip to Malta.



I occasionally have the bag inflate a bit on the flight but I make sure it is almost flat before the flight so it is not a problem. I have a colostomy and solid output so I have to keep air in the bag so it does not flatten against the stoma and restrict output. Fly several times yearly, never had a bad experience.

pete b

Well... I'm back now, had a great time and no problems on the flight!!!!

Thanks for all of your answers...


I am so glad that Pete B posted this question! I have been avoiding flying since my ileostomy became a part of me about a year ago. I did do some research about flying a while back and was mortified to read that some people actually had their bags explode on flights because of the cabin pressure! That was all I needed to read to decide to stop flying. My son lives in Nevada which is a 5-6 hr flight, so I've only seen him when he flies home to NY for his annual Christmas visits which has made me feel quite sad and guilty. But now that I'm reading all of these positive "it'll be fine" posts here in response to Pete B's post, I'm once again considering flying! Thanks for making me feel much better about this issue. I'm totally okay with the TSA pat down ritual, explosive residue swab, etc. and I did already print out some of those blue "I have an ostomy" cards to show TSA and the flight attendants; but I was so filled with complete dread about my bag exploding in mid-flight with all those poor people (and my sure-to-be embarrassed husband) there to witness the incident that I didn't think I'd ever muster up the courage to fly again. You are all awesome! I'm so happy to have found this forum. - KC

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