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Colorectal Cancer: Ostomy

After Surgery

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The stoma is swollen initially after surgery. It will shrink to its true size in 6 to 8 weeks.

For the first 6 - 8 weeks after surgery, be gentle with your g.i. track. Avoid foods which contain large amounts of fiber and bran.  Eat foods that are bland, and that have little fiber in them. For example, use a modified BRAT diet. Eat:

  • Bananas
  • White rice
  • Apple Sauce
  • Toast
  • Yogurt (which contain probiotics)
  • Green tea (which helps with imflammation)
  • Drink 2 -3 quarts of water a day. The colon absorbs water into the system. Less will be absorbed after surgery so you need a greater intake. Greater amounts of liquid are likely to loosen your stool. 
  • Include a reasonable amount of salt in your diet. With less water being absorbed into your system, electrolytes are likely to be lost.

Keep in mind that foods that caused problems prior to surgery are likely to cause problems after surgery - at least initially.

Start adding fiber and the other foods 6-8 weeks after surgery. There is no standard diet that works for everyone. Trial and error is the best method to find out what foods work for you, and which ones don't.

  • Add one food at a time.
  • Keep a food journal to see if dairy and other foods trigger MPS (multiple poop syndrome), pain, constipation etc.  
  • After a few days, add in another food.
  • Continue adding in healthy foods.
  • Start getting exercise on a daily basis, such as walking.

The key to foods like nuts is to really chew, chew, chew.  Many people avoid nuts and popcorn completely for fear of blockages. 

Continue to drink enough fluids.


  • If diarrhea becomes a problem, there are steps to take to firm the stool. For information, click here.
  • If a particular food or liquid is a problem, consider reintroducing it every month or so for a few months to see if there is a difference as your body heals and adjusts to the changes.

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