What is a prolapsed stoma?

A prolapse of the stoma occurs when the bowel protrudes through the stomal opening in the skin to a greater extent than was anticipated. The amount of protruding bowel can vary from 2-3cm to more than 10cm. Although when this first happens it can be very distressing and frightening it is usually not serious. However, a review by a stoma care nurse is essential.

A prolapse can occur in any stoma type but is more common in loop stomas. There are many causes, the most common are:

  • An over sized hole made in the abdominal wall at surgery
  • Increased abdominal pressure due to tumour, pregnancy, coughing and sneezing
  • Excessive exertion eg heavy lifting
  • Poorly developed abdominal muscular support (infants)
  • Obesity

How do I manage a prolapse?

There are two ways of managing a prolapse:

Conservative management

Your stoma care nurse will advise on how you should look after the stoma and give you help in reducing the swelling. He/she will also advise you on which specialist pouches are available and also on the use of abdominal support garments.


If a prolapse is too large to manage conservatively, or if it has become discoloured, surgical intervention may be required. This will involve removal of the prolapsed section of the bowel and resiting of the stoma.

If you have a prolapse stoma please contact your local stoma care nurse for advice and support.

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