“Does your scar or stoma ever hurt?”

I remember sitting in my surgeon’s office back in 2016 as we discussed my first IBD surgery – a resection. I had a ton of questions, most of which focused on pain and the scar. Looking back, being worried about the scars seems so trivial but it was a big thing to me at that time; it would be the first time I’d ever have surgery and I was really apprehensive and nervous about the whole process. And I’d done my time with pain, I just wanted to be comfortable and recover well.

Since then, I’ve had four more surgeries. I’ve had my abdomen cut through all those four times and each scar has been different. And all of those surgeries I’ve had my stoma bag. What I get asked a lot is ‘does it hurt?” and I’m not quite sure if they mean the stoma being there or the scar, so let’s answer both, shall we?

“Does my scar ever hurt?”

Yes. It does. If you’ve had a deep cut on your body, you know that it begins to itch and get tight when it heals. Imagine this on a larger and deeper scale, this is a surgical scar. My midline incision – the one seen below, which extends from my pubis up and around my belly button and to the top of my abdominal muscles – is layers of skin, muscle, fat and tissue to get to my bowel to repair or remove it. Then it gets sown up, layers of sutures – all dissolvable – towards the surface which has always been glued together in my particular case. And yes, it hurts. To begin with.

I don’t feel the scar at all nowadays. Occasionally it will get a tad itchy but it’s still healing from my most recent surgery last September. Healing of scars and the tissues beneath them can take months even years to completely settle.

“Does my stoma hurt?”

Typically, it does not. But it can hurt sometimes.

Remember it is created from the bowel, which has no nerve endings, meaning it doesn’t ‘feel’ pain like other things like skin or muscles. So when my stoma does hurt, it is usually because of pressure. This pressure can be caused by blockages further inside of my abdomen. Blockages can be caused by obstructions such as twisted bowel or undigested food. They do require remedies to unblock them because a blocked portion of the bowel can lose blood supply and die.

What hurts when I say ‘my stoma hurts’ is the immediate skin surrounds it, called the peristomal skin. This can be irritated by many different things, including but not limited to; stoma bag baseplates, any of the protective products we use to protect our skin, our own output coming into constant contact with the skin causing broken and sore skin. Many things can cause this sort of pain, and it is best to seek some medical attention if this happens to you, from a stoma care or wound care nurse.

It’s important to not think that being in pain is normal or to be lived with, or put up with.

Of course, typically, there will be some pain after major surgery but this should always reduce as the days go on, and your strength and energy come back. If it lingers, gets worse or feels different, please get some advice from your surgical or medical team.

Until next time,

Do you have any questions or queries? Or just want to share your own experiences? You can leave me a reply here or leave comments via my social media accounts – on Twitter, find my blog page on Facebook and over on Instagram

If you enjoyed this post check out “What does a blockage feel like?” and “What is life like after stoma surgery?

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