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Stoma surgery complications

It’s common to experience complications when a stoma is formed but it is important that you should be aware of them, so that you can report changes or symptoms.

Stoma surgery complications

When any surgical procedure is performed there are always benefits and risks that can occur from the operation, they will be explained to you at the time of surgery from a healthcare professional. 

After surgery 


Stomal retraction

This occurs when the stoma is pulled back into the abdomen and is not raised above the level of the skin. There are various reasons for this:-

  •  Poor blood flow
  • Stoma placement in a deep skin fold
  • Weight gain

A retracted stoma can lead to leakages and sore skin, a convex pouch can help, its domed shape pushes into the abdomen around the stoma and makes the stoma protrude more.   

Mucocutaneous separation

Occasionally following surgery the stoma separates slightly from the skin at the join between the skin and the intestine used to form the stoma. There are various causes for this:-

  • Infection
  • Diabetes
  • Steroid use
  • Malnutrition



A restricted blood flow causes stoma necrosis, the stoma will become dark red or may even turn black, this is an indication that the blood supply is impaired. Report signs and symptoms to your healthcare professional, further surgery may be required. 

Late complications after surgery


Stoma prolapse

A stoma prolapse occurs when the stoma moves from its proper position.  The prolapse stoma increases in both length and size. The prolapse can usually be reduced by lying down. A larger pouch may be required to accommodate the larger stoma. A stoma shield can be worn to help hold the stoma in place during the day. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove the prolapse but it can recur. 

Parastomal hernia

A hernia is a weakness in the muscle which can occur around the stoma. The hernia can vary in size from a slight swelling to a large hernia. It can be prevented by avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous exercise in the first three months after stoma surgery. Surgery to repair the hernia is only necessary in extreme cases and there may still be a risk of another hernia developing. Wearing a support belt may be helpful.

The best way to manage a stoma complication is by prevention. People with stomas may experience a range of problems, but these can often be resolved with advice from a Stoma Care Nurse.