Ask an Ostomy Lifestyle Expert

Abdominal Tightness

October 2017


I have had my ostomy since surgery Nov. 2015. For the last 6 months to a year, I feel that I have a tight belt around my stomach. I’m not constipated and I don’t have a blockage. Is this normal? No pain, just very uncomfortable. It’s not the belt because I’ve loosened it a lot.


Are you running a fever? If so, call your physician immediately.

Tightness in the abdomen for a few weeks post-surgery is not unusual. Initially, you will find it difficult to walk upright. This usually dissipates within 4 to 8 weeks post-surgery. As you have had your surgery in 2015, this would not be the case.

Another common cause of tightness and/or side pain in people with an ostomy is a hernia, (parastomal hernia). A hernia occurs when a muscle in the abdominal wall tears, and intestines bulge through the tear, sometimes forming a lump under the skin. Because the stoma itself is an opening in the abdominal wall, the likelihood of a tear occurring and causing a hernia increases.

Surgery to deal with the initial intestinal issue and the creation of an ostomy is invasive and extensive, therefore there is a tendency to “load” adjacent tissues, which is then experienced as tightness in some people.

I recommend that you make an appointment and have a consultation with a NSWOC for an assessment.


Our friends over at Nurses Specialized In Wound, Ostomy And Continence Canada [NSWOCC] (formerly called The Canadian Association for Enterostomal Therapy (CAET)) have renamed their handy look-up page on their website. It was formerly called “Find An ET Nurse” and is now called “Find a NSWOC“. Click on the image to the left or link here to go to their site.

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