What is a Parastomal Hernia?

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A parastomal hernia is a possible complication of the colostomy process, where part of the bowel pushes through the muscle wall to create a lump or swelling under the skin around the stoma.

This type of hernia can develop over time after the operation, or sometimes be an immediate side effect of the surgery. However, there are ways to minimise the risk.


What are the symptoms of a parastomal hernia?

The most obvious sign of a parastomal hernia is a lump around the stoma, often accompanied by pain or discomfort. It can feel like a dull ache around the stoma area, or can create a pulling sensation.

The swelling can increase as the hernia gets worse, making the stoma more difficult to use, as well as making it harder to hide beneath clothing, which can be embarrassing.


What causes a parastomal hernia?

This type of hernia can happen because of the incision made during a colostomy procedure, weakening the muscle wall where the entry was made. Weakened muscle is the root cause of all types of hernia, though certain activities can cause a hernia to happen or make one worse, including:

  • Intense coughing or sneezing
  • Lifting heavy objects or doing strenuous activity
  • Having weaker muscles due to advanced age
  • Infection around the stoma
  • Being overweight


How is a parastomal hernia treated?

In many cases, a parastomal hernia can be treated with lifestyle changes and through supportive clothing. Surgery is usually only necessary in a small number of cases but can be required if the hernia is particularly severe.

Surgery may involve repairing the muscle wall by sewing tissues together or by inserting a piece of mesh to strengthen it. Other options may include moving or closing the stoma, depending on the person’s specific condition.


How to reduce the risk of a parastomal hernia

The best way to avoid a parastomal hernia is through lifestyle choices and wearing supportive clothing. This includes:

  • Avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous activity
  • Avoiding or quitting smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Wearing specially designed support belts or underwear


Hernia treatments at Ramsay Health Care

You can find out more about hernias and the hernia treatments available at Ramsay, or get in touch with us if you’d like more information or you want to book an appointment to see one of our specialists.

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