After surgically creating a stoma, a parastomal hernia may develop. Since it’s a common complication, there are a variety of treatments to help ease the pain and discomfort.

Parastomal hernias happen when part of your intestines stick out through a stoma. A stoma is a surgically made opening in your stomach, small bowel, or colon that allows you to pass waste into a bag. This is sometimes needed when patients have gastrointestinal problems that prevent them from having normal bowel movements.

Up to 78 percent of people develop a parastomal hernia after surgery to create a stoma, usually within 2 years of surgery.

In many cases, parastomal hernias are treatable with lifestyle changes, like losing weight or quitting smoking. Wearing an abdominal support belt can also help ease symptoms.

But some parastomal hernias are severe enough to need surgical repair.

There are several surgical repair options for a parastomal hernia, including:

  • Closing the stoma. This is the best option for repairing a parastomal hernia. It’s only an option for a small group of people who have enough healthy bowel left to reattach the end that forms the stoma.
  • Repairing the hernia. In this type of surgery, a surgeon opens the abdominal wall over the hernia and sews the muscle and other tissues together to narrow or close the hernia. This surgery is most successful when the hernia is small.
  • Relocating the stoma. In some cases, a stoma with a parastomal hernia can be closed and a new stoma can be opened on another part of the abdomen. But a new parastomal hernia can form around the new stoma.
  • Mesh. Mesh inserts are currently the most common type of surgical parastomal hernia repair. Either synthetic or biological mesh can be used. Biological mesh is often considered more comfortable, but is much more expensive. In this type of repair, the hernia is repaired using the same technique as in other surgeries. Then, mesh is placed either over the repaired stoma or below the abdominal wall. Eventually, the mesh incorporates into the tissue around it. This creates a strong area in the abdomen and helps prevent the hernia from forming again.

Parastomal hernias usually develop and grow gradually. As it develops, you may notice:

  • pain or discomfort around your stoma
  • trouble keeping your stoma appliance in place
  • bulging around your stoma, especially when you cough

Having a stoma sometimes weakens your abdominal muscles, causing them to pull away from the stoma. This process can lead to a parastomal hernia. Several other factors can contribute to the development of a parastomal hernia, including:

Parastomal hernias are common and can often be managed with lifestyle changes. Losing weight and quitting smoking, as well as wearing an abdominal support belt, can help ease uncomfortable symptoms.

Stomal support belts are compression belts worn around the abdomen to support the abdominal muscles, secure the stoma, and conceal the appliance. There’s some evidence that they can reduce the risk of a parastomal hernia developing or getting worse.

If you’re living with obesity or are overweight, your doctor may recommend a diet or exercise program to help you reach a moderate weight.

If you’re a smoker, your doctor may suggest that you participate in a smoking cessation program to help you quit.

Some patients with a parastomal hernia will ultimately require surgical repair. For example, a strangulated or incarcerated hernia requires emergency surgical repair because of the risk of ischemic colitis.

Elective surgery may be considered for patients who have chronic obstruction, pain, appliance leakage, discomfort from an ill-fitting appliance, or peristomal skin breakdown.

Some people have a higher risk of developing a parastomal hernia. Common risk factors include:

  • older age
  • obesity, especially if you carry weight around your waist, stomach, or hip area
  • cancer
  • smoking
  • Crohn’s disease
  • respiratory diseases with chronic cough

Your risk also increases if you’ve previously had an abdominal wall hernia.

In some rare cases, the intestines can become trapped or twisted in the hernia. This blocks the intestine and can lead to loss of blood supply. This is known as strangulation, which is a very painful condition.

Strangulation requires emergency surgery to untwist the intestine and restore blood supply. This is so that the obstructed part of the intestine isn’t permanently damaged.

Parastomal hernias are a common complication of colostomies and ileostomies. In many cases, they’re asymptomatic or only cause slight discomfort and can be managed effectively with lifestyle changes. In cases where surgery is necessary, hernia repair with mesh support is the most effective treatment.

Parastomal hernias are a common complication following surgery to create a stoma. Parastomal hernias can create pain and discomfort, cause leakage of your ostomy appliance, and cause skin irritation.

The risk of developing a parastomal hernia is highest within the first few years after surgery to create a stoma but may develop more than 40 years later.

The recurrence rate for parastomal hernias is lowest with mesh repair surgery (up to 33 percent), while primary fascial closure and relocation of the stoma result in much higher recurrence rates.