Adjusting to post-surgery life as an ostomate means getting thrown into the often overwhelming world of ostomy supplies.
Being prepared with the right supplies will not only help your post-ostomy surgery recovery but can also improve your comfort and quality of life. There are many types of ostomy, but no matter if you’ve had a colostomy, urostomy, or ileostomy, the same basic supplies apply. In this article, we’ll provide the complete list of essential ostomy supplies so you know what you will need as you adjust to your new way of life.
Ostomy Pouches/Ostomy Bags
The most crucial item for ostomy care is an ostomy pouch, also known as an ostomy bag. There are two basic types of ostomy appliance systems: one-piece and two-piece. A one-piece ostomy pouch is attached directly to the skin barrier (a.k.a wafer) and tends to be better for people with limited eyesight or mobility, who may have difficulty attaching a pouch.
A two-piece pouch can be detached from the ostomy wafer to be emptied, cleaned, or replaced. Two-piece systems allow users to replace their pouches without changing the skin barrier, but they tend to be slightly bulkier and more visible than one-piece pouches (although both types of pouches can easily be worn under your regular clothes).
Ostomy bags can also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Smaller pouches tend to be more discreet but need to be changed more frequently. Larger pouches don’t require changing as often but can be bulkier and harder to manage for some activities. You can also choose to use a reusable bag (one which you empty once it gets about halfway full) or a disposable bag (one which you discard once it gets about halfway full and replace with a new one).
As you prepare to leave the hospital, check with your healthcare provider about the right type of ostomy bag for your stoma. Your doctor will likely prescribe a specific pouch to meet your needs, likely made by Coloplast, ConvaTec, or Hollister, some of the largest ostomy suppliers. As you adjust to life with an ostomy bag, you can test different types and sizes to find the best fit for your lifestyle and comfort.
Also known as a skin wafer or skin flange, the ostomy skin barrier fits around your stoma to ensure a good seal and skin protection. If you use a two-piece ostomy system, the skin wafer is a separate piece and must be attached to your ostomy bag before you put it on. In one-piece ostomy systems, the skin wafer is part of the pouch.
Skin barriers have adhesive on one side to help them attach securely to your skin and then attach to the pouch on the other side — remember, a good seal is essential and will help you avoid leaks and skin irritation down the line. Like pouches, skin barriers come in a variety of sizes depending on your preferences and the size and shape of your stoma.
Cut-to-fit skin barriers are best for stomas that are still changing shape or have unusual shapes (more common immediately following your surgery as your body is still adapting). As the name implies, cut-to-fit skin wafers can be cut to any size and shape for a totally customized fit. That level of customization and security makes cut-to-fit skin barriers the most common type for ostomates. Designated ostomy scissors such as curved ostomy scissors are highly recommended in your ostomy kit.
Pre-sized skin barriers can be effective for round stomas that are no longer changing shape. These skin wafers come in a variety of sizes to match the size of your stoma opening and offer the convenience of a snug fit as long as you have the right size.
Moldable skin barriers can be shaped to snugly fit around the stoma without being cut. Moldable skin wafers offer strong protection against leaking and can be worn for a long time before being changed.
Ostomy Supplies to Help Prevent Leaks
Leakages happen, especially as you’re still getting used to wearing an ostomy pouch and managing your stoma.
Stoma paste is commonly used by ostomates to fill in any gaps or unevenness that may exist between the barrier and your stoma. The flatter surface creates a better seal and can prevent leaks. Stoma paste comes as strips or squeezable paste, both of which are equally effective.
Barrier rings can be placed around the stoma before applying the skin barrier to fill in any gaps and prevent leaks. They come in a variety of sizes and are easily adjustable to fit your stoma’s size and shape.
Ostomy Cleaning Supplies
The skin around the stoma needs to be cleaned properly to reduce the risk of infection or rash from ostomy output. Cleansers, including adhesive wipes, sprays, and powders, can help keep the area clean and help you avoid skin irritation.
Skin barrier wipes are used before putting a new barrier and bag onto your skin. They ensure the skin is clean so that your pouching system sticks properly. Similarly, skin prep sprays add a layer of protection and improve the stickiness of the adhesive. Most patients use either a wipe or a spray, but not both, depending on their skin type and personal preference.
Another option is stoma powder, which dries the skin, prevents moisture, and can help the barrier adhere better. Stoma powder can also help irritated skin by alleviating moisture and discomfort.
Adhesive remover wipes can be used to remove the adhesive buildup from around the edge of the skin barrier. Over time, sticky residue can gather and cause skin irritation or discomfort. Adhesive wipes gently remove that buildup and can be a good option for people with sensitive skin. A gentle washcloth and warm water can also be effective in removing adhesive residue.
Ostomy Odor Control Supplies
Odor is a natural part of living with an ostomy — but there are a variety of supplies designed to help you prevent, eliminate, or neutralize odors.
Ostomy deodorant comes in bottles, drops, or tablets and is typically added to the pouch every time it is changed. These products break down scents from inside the pouch and can either release a gentle fragrance or be fragrance-free.
Ostomy Pouch Support Accessories
Pouch support belts aren’t necessary for all ostomates, but they can provide extra support to hold the pouch in place. Many patients use pouch support ostomy accessories if their pouch system regularly leaks, if their ouch doesn’t feel secure, or if they participate in physical activities and want their pouch to stay closer to their body. Ostomy belts attach to the pouch and hold the pouching system snugly to your body. They are adjustable and come in three sizes.
Ostomy supply organizers can help you organize and store your supplies. A home organization bin is useful to have a designated space in the house to store all your ostomy supplies. They can be organized using a bin or a box with different compartments depending on personal preference. An on-the-go organization kit is useful to have an on-the-go ostomy kit that contains the essentials for easy transport while you are out. Some people like to use a pouch or a toiletries kit to keep all the essential colostomy material together.
Understanding ostomy supplies is the first step to adjusting to life as a new ostomate. These essential supplies can help you live a full and comfortable life.