There are approximately 7000 Ostomates in New Zealand!

People of all ages have life-saving ostomy surgery for a wide variety of reasons, and most go on to live active and healthy lives. You have very likely already met someone with an ostomy but never knew it. Ostomy NZ can help you find the answers you need as you begin your “new normal” life.

As always, in order to obtain answers to your individual and specific questions, be sure to consult with your doctor or Stoma Nurse for help.

A stoma is an artificially created opening in the abdominal wall for the evacuation of the contents of the gastrointestional tract or urine when normal function is no longer possible. People with a stoma usually wear a disposable bag (known as an appliance) over the stoma attached to the abdomen to catch output. 

The most common types of ostomy are a Colostomy (where the stoma is formed from the large intestine), Ileostomy (where the stoma is formed from the small intestine) and Urostomy also known as an Ileil Conduit (for the evacuation of urine from the kidneys). Other types of ostomy include a Mace, Mitronoff and Chait button. 

Depending on the reason for the surgery, a stoma may be permanent or it may be only temporary to allow the bowel to heal before the stoma is reversed. Your surgeon should be able to provide you with an expected period for which you will have your stoma. 

If you have concerns or are experiencing problems with your stoma, contact your Stoma Nurse or GP. In case of an emergency, please contact the Emergency Department of your nearest Hospital. 

In New Zealand your supplies are provided free.

Empty the appliance if possible into the toilet.

Place the appliance in a plastic bag and secure the end.

Wrap in newspaper and place in the bin with other rubbish.

Please note: Appliances are never to be flushed down the toilet! 

Whether or not you should tell your friends and family about your ostomy surgery is an individual choice. Some people like to keep their condition private whilst others are quite open about it. Either way, it is important to remember that ostomy surgery is life saving surgery and is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. 

You are able to make contact with suppliers directly if you wish to try a new appliance and they will send you a sample.   View the supplier list here

Most people with a stoma can swim without fear of an appliance leakage or coming off. Some ostomy suppliers offer a pouch intended to be used for swimming but all appliances can be worn in water. Those people using an appliance with a filter may like to cover the filter with a stick on cover. Some of the newer filters are waterproof which means that a filter cover is no longer necessary. 

Having an ostomy should not prevent you from travelling and many of the society members travel on a regular basis. It is a good idea to keep a good supply of appliances in your carry-on luggage, just in case your checked luggage is misplaced. Remember to pre-cut any appliances before you go as you won’t be able to take scissors onto the plane with you. If travelling internationally you can take a travel certificate with you. 

A list of contact details for Stoma Nurses are available here