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Managing your stoma prolapse

Patient information A-Z

What is a prolapsed stoma?

When a stoma protrudes further than normal from your abdomen, it has prolapsed.

Why does my stoma prolapse?

Your stoma can prolapse if the muscles supporting it are weak. It may also happen as a result of straining the abdominal muscle, for example through lifting. When a stoma has prolapsed once, it is common for it to prolapse again whenever you increase your abdominal pressure. You do this when you cough, sneeze, lift anything, and even when you sit up. Whenever you reduce your abdominal pressure (like lying down), the stoma will often slide back in and become normal in size again.

What do I do if my stoma prolapses?

Contact your local stoma nurse or GP as soon as your stoma prolapses. Your stoma nurse or GP may advise you to do one or both of the following:

  • Lie flat to reduce abdominal pressure.
    • Lie with your head back. Do not look at your abdominal area. If you do this, you are straining your abdominal muscle, and increasing pressure on your abdomen. Apply continuous gentle pressure with your hands to help your bowel slide back into your body.
  • If your stoma is swollen, you can apply a cold compress or sugar.
    • For a cold compress, first put a stoma bag on your stoma. Then wrap ice in a towel and put it over your bagged stoma for no longer than five minutes.
    • If using sugar, apply a liberal amount of granulated sugar onto the stoma (enough to cover it) and put a bag on. The sugar works by drawing fluid from the swollen stoma and reduces its size. You may see syrup-like fluid in the bag.

Seek medical advice if your stoma turns purple, black, becomes ulcerated, painful, or stops working. You should contact your GP or NHS 111 on weekends and bank holidays.

Potential problems

  • Sore skin
    • The skin around the stoma is at risk of getting sore or excoriated. Please contact your stoma nurse for advice regarding skin protection.
  • Leaks
    • It may be challenging to know the correct size of your stoma when it prolapses. The hole in the bag may need to be cut bigger to accommodate the stoma.
    • When your stoma prolapses, it may produce more mucous, which can affect how your bag sticks. It can also cause your bag to leak. Your stoma nurse can recommend a better bag if the one you are using is not appropriate.

See your stoma nurse regularly to check your stoma. They may recommend alternative products.

Contacts / further information

Clinical Nurse Specialist, Stoma Care
Addenbrooke’s Hospital
Telephone: 01223 216505

References / sources of evidence

  • Gill Skipper; Prolapsed Stoma, ASCN Stoma Care Clinical Guidelines 2016
  • Ileostomy Hospital to Home and Stoma Care Diary, Addenbrooke’s Hospital
  • Patient Advice Leaflet for Managing a Prolapsed Stoma, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals
  • Brigid Breckman; Prolapse; Problems in Stoma Management; Stoma Care and Rehabilitation 2005; p. 281
  • Patricia Black; Stoma Prolapse; Aspects of Medical Treatment, Talking about Prolapse; Colostomy UK (opens in a new tab)

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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151