Returning to Work with an Ostomy

From industrial jobs to the classroom, from long shifts at the hospital to dancers – and all workplaces in between – people living with an ostomy are successfully returning to work following ostomy surgery. These tips from the me+™ Team may help you return to the workplace with more confidence and less anxiety.

  • Be prepared. Pack a bag with the items you need for a full change of pouching system and a change of clothes. You may not need your “emergency kit” at all, but it can offer peace of mind knowing that it is at the ready.
  • Pack your water bottle and stay hydrated. Drinking water is one of the simplest ways to improve your health and well-being. Learn more about hydration with an ostomy.
  • Initially, you may be self-conscious about emptying your pouch in public due to odor or sound. Create a bufferwith a layer of toilet paper in the toilet bowl to avoid splashing when emptying your pouch. Some people also include toilet deodorizing products in their ostomy supply kits.
  • Dress comfortably. Do not worry that others will notice the pouching system through your clothes. Having an ostomy may seem very noticeable to you, but in reality it is rarely noticed by others. Ostomysecrets® apparel keeps your ostomy pouch supported & flat against your stomach allowing you to wear tailored clothing.
  • Consider starting back to work on a Thursday, allowing you to ease back in with a short work week. You will be able to rest over the weekend before taking on a full week of work.
  • Think about what facilities are available in your work restroom and plan accordingly. If no paper towels are available, have premoistened paper towels in zip lock plastic bags or moisturizer-free wipes. Try to think of how to accomplish a pouch change in that setting if needed. 
  • Take breaks. It is easy to get wrapped up in the task at hand, but allow yourself time to empty your pouch.
  • Don’t try out new products or foods right before going back to work.Save testing new products or diet changes for the comfort of home.  
  • Most likely, your co-workers will not realize you have an ostomy unless you tell them. It is a personal choice whether or not to tell your employer about your ostomy. Although it may help to tell your manager or trusted co-worker(s) if you require frequent breaks or accomodations.
  • You have legal rights under the American Disabilities Act prohibiting employment-based discrimination. The UOAA can be a helpful resource if you encounter workplace discrimination.


Consult your physician or healthcare professional before returning to work. If you have other questions about returning to work following ostomy surgery, contact the me+ Team at 1-800-422-8811 or



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