Dr. Don Schiller is a Los Angeles-based ileostomy specialist who has helped thousands of patients manage diseases and conditions—including inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, and pelvic trauma—that affect the way their body excretes solid waste (feces). If you’re planning to undergo an ileostomy procedure, you probably have a lot of questions.
Beyond the most common and understandable questions, our patients ask us, including "Can I live a normal life with an ileostomy?" (the answer—YES!), Dr. Schiller also receives other questions which some people may feel embarrassed to ask. One example is the following:
"What will my stool look like when it comes out of my ileostomy? Will it be different than how it looks when excreted from a ‘normal’ digestive tract?"
This is a perfectly normal question and actually more common than most people think. It’s a great one to know, too, because understanding what you’ll see in your ileostomy bag can help you manage your self-care steps with greater confidence.
An ileostomy is a procedure that allows food entering the digestive tract to bypass the colon and instead be excreted through a hole in your stomach called a stoma. This stoma is created in a surgical procedure that connects the end of the small intestine to the abdominal wall. Waste (feces) is collected in a small pouch that attaches to your abdominal wall and encloses the stoma, thus keeping things hygienic and clean.
Many factors can influence what your stool looks like when it comes out of your stoma. In general, it will appear dark green or greenish brown. Unlike the formed stool that is generally passed through the anus, stool in your ostomy bag will have more of a liquid or paste-like form. This is completely normal.
This liquid may be thin or thick depending on things like the types of medications you may be taking and the type of foods you eat.
As for the stoma itself, it should be a healthy deep pink or red color at all times. If you don’t see this coloration while cleaning your stoma and emptying your ostomy bag, you should call your surgeon right away.
At our clinic, ileostomies are what we do! No question is off-limits and chances are if you’re wondering about it, so are other people! If you have any concerns about your stool or stoma, contact Dr. Don Schiller today at 323-472-9931.