Ostomy Lifestyle Question (Apr 21, 2015)


I have had a colostomy since February 18, 2015. I am finding that the clothes I used to wear are tight and so when I take the flange off the skin around the stoma is not the same as the rest of my skin but is kinda greyish color. Is this normal? I am finding if difficult to wear certain clothes. Some I wear above the stoma and some below. If I wear them below then the bag sticks out. If I wear above then I get pancaking and is not really comfortable.
Any suggestions?


Lets address the greyish skin colouring first. It is always recommended that we identify any skin issues as a necessary step in management. Therefore, it is very important that you have your stoma and peristomal skin checked by an Enterostomal Therapy professional, (ET Nurse). I have had my colostomy since 2011, shortly after I noticed the skin that is under the ostomy equipment is a different colour than the rest of the abdomen. For me the colour is much paler than the surrounding skin. It has been determined by my ET professional this is normal and I have nothing to be concerned about.

The flange we all use has an adhesive that helps prevent and manage peristomal skin damage. It is essential that ostomates protect the peristomal skin, one way is to ensure that you are gentle when removing all the adhesive while supporting the skin to avoid skin stripping.

Next, let’s talk pancaking. Pancaking is due to stool that is thick. There are a few ways of dealing with thick stool. Some tips are: Drink plenty of water. Lubricate the inside of your pouch. This can be done by using a lubricating gel or liquid that is designed specifically for ostomy pouches. Some folks use olive oil or cooking spray and feel this works well for them. The general idea is to coat the inside of your pouch so that stool can slide down to the bottom of your pouch. Most lubricants need to be reapplied whenever the pouch is emptied, and it is important that you lubricate up to the top of the pouch as much as possible.

Sharing Ostomy Fashion Ideas:

Where your stoma is located will have a big impact on how you wear clothes. Because stoma placement differs from person to person, some adjustments are needed. I found initially when my stoma was first created, when I wore clothes with a waistband it was a challenge. 4 years later it is only at times that waistbands and clothes with zippers can be annoying and uncomfortable for me. In speaking with my fellow ostomates at our Ostomy Canada Society Chapter, the following are a few of their suggestions for your information and experimentation.

There are many reputable companies that manufacture clothing for ostomates you may want to explore. You can google – ostomy garments, ostomy swimsuits, etc…

Visit some of your local maternity shops. They can offer some pieces of leisure clothing that you might find comfortable.

Ostomy support wraps/maternity bands. These pieces of clothing can range from basic maternity wraps, to more specialty wraps made for ostomates. They allow for the concealment of your appliance, and offer some support, too. Wraps designed for ostomates usually have pockets which you can fit your pouch into. This helps to keep the bottom of the pouch from hanging below the bottom of the wrap.

Pouch Covers. Pouch covers are made to hide the contents of your pouch, (when using a transparent pouch), they have many patterns, styles and material available.

High-waisted pants/undergarments. There are high-waisted products which are designed specifically for ostomates. Also, you can find high-waisted products in most clothing stores. Your goal here is to keep your pouch below the belt line without the need for any other accessories. Many ostomy high-waisted products offer security pouch pockets.

Stoma guards. Stoma guards can be extremely useful if your stoma is at, or above your belt line. They offer men and women protection from impact, seat belts or pant belts, and they’ll often allow you to wear your pouch inside your slacks with your blouse tucked in. Men can wear their pouch inside their pants with their shirt tucked in. (Depending on the style of your stoma guard, output is usually not restricted, however pouch capacity can be reduced.

Stealth Belt. The Stealth Belt allows you to wear your pouch horizontally. There are many styles you can research that may work for you.

Casual. For both the ladies and the gentlemen, dressing casual is one of the easiest ways to dress with an ostomy. Since with casual clothing we can leave blouses and shirts untucked, and are often loose-fitting, there is less need to worry about concealing or protecting your stoma and equipment. When at home some folks have suggested that they leave their pouch over their slacks/pants and let their shirt cover it. Of course track pants, stretch pants and sweatpants are also options. Clothing with elastic waists often accommodate most stoma placements.

When going out some folks put a wrap on, which offers a low profile. It is suggested that jeans shouldn’t be tight, and it is highly recommended getting a pair that have some stretch to the denim, especially if the pouch will be tucked in your slacks.

Semi-casual/Semi-Formal. The ladies can wear dresses, many styles are comfortable. Skirts with a high waist work well. You can wear a nice wrap, or jacket to spruce up the dress. For the gentlemen, semi-casual means they can leave a shirt untucked. The fellas can wear a stoma guard. If the stoma is above the belt line often the pouch under the belt is restrictive and may cut off the flow of output. Some guards correct the problem by channeling output to flow down to the bottom of the pouch, without being restricted or cut off by the belt.

Formal. Again, the ladies can wear comfortable dresses. Like semi-casual the men often want to wear their shirt tucked in. It’s suggested that they’ll want to apply the same methods when wearing semi-casual clothing. Methods such as; stoma guard, a stealth belt and/or suspenders when necessary. High waisted option or elastic waist bands are comfortable. The goal here is to comfortably tuck your ostomy appliance under your dress or pants.

In conclusion, the most important thing you need is to be comfortable. Often ostomates feel the ostomy equipment attached to them is obvious. When we look in the mirror we notice the equipment under our clothes. It’s agreed by many ostomates that most people won’t notice our ostomy. Many ostomates shared with me that they got used to their ostomy, and they figured out tips and tricks for feeling comfortable and if it is important to them, keeping their ostomy equipment concealed.