Request Appointment

Discharge Instructions: Changing Your Ostomy Pouch

Your health care provider showed you how to change your pouch in the hospital soon after your surgery. This sheet helps you remember the steps you need to follow to change your pouch. As a rule, a drainable pouch needs to be changed every 5 to 7 days.

Home Care

Image showing skin barrier being peeled back.


Image showing wiping the skin around the stoma.


Image showing correct placement of the skin barrier.


  • Gather the following supplies:

    • Plastic bags

    • Clean towel

    • Toilet paper

    • Extra skin protection

    • Soft washcloth

    • Scissors (if needed)

    • New pouch

  • Remove the used pouch:

    • Sit on or next to the toilet.

    • Empty the used pouch into the toilet if necessary.

    • Starting at the upper edge of the skin barrier, carefully push the skin away from the barrier with one hand. Slowly peel back the skin barrier with the other hand.

    • Peel all the way around the skin barrier until the pouch comes off.

    • Seal the pouch in a plastic bag; then put it in a second plastic bag. Throw it away in a trash bin.

  • Clean around the stoma:

    • Wipe any stool off the skin around the stoma with toilet paper.

    • Clean the skin with warm water and a soft washcloth. Wash right up to the edge of the stoma. Pat the skin dry with a clean towel.

    • If needed, put on extra skin protection, such as moisture barrier cream or powder.

  • Put on the new pouch:

    • Peel the backing off the skin barrier.

    • Place the precut skin barrier over the stoma. If you don’t use a pouch with a precut skin barrier, size and cut the opening (1/16 inch bigger than the stoma) and peel the backing off the skin barrier. Carefully place it over the stoma.

    • The pouch opening should point toward your feet.

    • If using a pouch with a clamp at the base, it may be easier to apply the clamp to the pouch first.

    • Snap the pouch onto the barrier flange (if you use a 2-piece pouch).

    • Press the barrier against your skin. Hold it in place for 45 seconds.

    • Clamp the tail of the pouch (if drainable or reusable).


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Pus, foul-smelling drainage, or excessive bleeding from your stoma

  • A stoma that separates from the skin or looks like it’s getting longer

  • A stoma that is recessing (pulling back) into the abdomen

  • Bulging skin around your stoma

  • Blood in your stool

  • Change in the color of your stoma

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or chills

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Increased pain in the abdomen or around the stoma

  • No gas or stool produced after 24 hours


Was this helpful?

Yes No

Tell us more.

Check all that apply.

Last question: How confident are you filling out medical forms by yourself?

Not at all A little Somewhat Quite a bit Extremely

Thank You!

Discrimination is Against the Law. We comply with applicable Federal civil rights laws. We do not discriminate against, exclude or treat people differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability or sex.
 Visit Other Fairview Sites 
(c) 2012 Fairview Health Services. All rights reserved.