A parastomal hernia is the protrusion of intestine through abdominal muscles around the stoma, and is seen as a bulge under the skin around the stoma. A parastomal hernia can occur reasonably frequently, as the muscles around the stoma have been ‘surgically weakened.’ These muscles which normally provide support are deliberately incised open to allow the formation of the stoma, hence they are often weaker. The hernia may sometimes be supported with a wide belt or binder and sometimes needs surgical correction if it has progressed too far and is causing issues.
Everyone should take care to protect their abdomen. But the surgery required to make a stoma can weaken muscles so it pays to be extra careful when doing any form of lifting or exercise.
With a stoma, the risk of hernia from lifting or strenuous exercise is generally higher than that of developing a common groin hernia because the muscles supporting the stoma are not as strong as they were before surgery, because they were cut apart to make the stoma.
Some preventive measures to guard against the development of a stoma hernia include:
• Gentle abdominal exercises such as sit-ups and walking.
• Avoid heavy lifting and straining. If necessary, use a wheeled trolley to help move heavier items or get someone to help you.
• Weight management – stay within an appropriate weight range.