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A Guide to Stoma-Related Products

  • 06.01.2020
  • JessicaMG
  • Clinical-negligence, Clinical-negligence
  • stoma ostomates ostomy bag body positivity stoma surgery one-piece pouches stoma paste stoma products stoma seal stoma cap stoma plug ostomy pouch stoma shields ostomy belt

If you have recently undergone stoma surgery, it can feel like a major change to your life, and it is understandable that you will be initially unsure about how best to manage the healthcare needs you will now have as an ostomate.

Fortunately, there are a wide range of products and accessories available that are specifically designed to make life easier for people with a stoma, and to help them maintain a healthy, active lifestyle with as little disruption as possible. However, it is sometimes hard to know straight away which products would work best for you - especially if your stoma surgery was not anticipated in advance.

At Potter Rees Dolan, we are dedicated to promoting body positivity among ostomates and helping them find the support they need, which is why we’ve put together this guide to some of the most commonly used varieties of stoma products. By making full use of the options available, you will be able to maintain a great quality of life and make your stoma experience a positive one.

Ostomy bags and pouches

Ostomy bags and pouches are the most important of all stoma products, being the system used by ostomates to pass waste. Depending on their specific physical needs and preferences, there are a range of different types of bag, and you will need to speak to a medical professional to determine which type of pouch will work best for you.

For those whose condition means they pass mostly liquid waste via their pouch, an open or drainable bag may be the best option. As the name suggests, these bags have an opening or a small tap at the bottom, allowing them to be drained without removing them; if you are required to pass solid waste via your stoma, this will not be an option, and a closed bag will be most suitable.

Ostomates will also have a choice when it comes to how their stoma bag is designed. Many opt for one-piece pouches, which incorporate the bag itself and the ostomy barrier that lies flat against the skin into a single unit, as they find these to be lower-profile and more flexible to use.

Meanwhile, two-piece bags separate the bag from the barrier, which stays on the skin at all times, and can help to reduce skin irritation and make for an easier changing process; however, they are often bulkier, so every user will need to decide which approach suits them best.

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Stoma seals and pastes

For many ostomates, one of their key concerns about having an ostomy bag is the potential risk of leakage. Stoma seals are mouldable ring-like systems that help to reduce this risk by fitting around the stoma opening, their malleable nature allowing them to form a perfect seal that conforms to the individual’s skin and body contours.

Stoma seals are designed to be easy to mould, apply and remove, and are usually specifically created using materials and ingredients to help minimise any skin irritation or the risk of allergies. As such, they are a popular and commonly used accessory for ostomates.

Additionally, stoma pastes are also available as an alternative to the solid ring-based seals. This soft paste is designed to be applied by hand to the skin and allowed to set for a short while before the barrier is applied, helping to fill all the gaps around the stoma to reduce the risk of a leak.

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Stoma caps and plugs

Stoma bags and pouches deliver lifesaving benefits for ostomates, but there will always be certain situations where they cannot be worn. In these instances, stoma caps and plugs can be a very helpful short-term solution.

These accessories are small caps that cover the stoma, and do not protrude in the same way that bags or pouches do. Because they do not hold any waste, they are only appropriate for people who can predict their output to some degree, but can be a great temporary option if you are trying to go swimming, play a sport or enjoy an intimate moment with a partner without any obstructions.

Additionally, some ostomates make use of a technique called irrigation - in which they empty their bowels by flushing water into the colon through the stoma at a scheduled time - as an alternative to wearing a bag. In these cases, stoma caps and plugs can be considered as a full-time solution.

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Stoma powder and adhesive removers

Many of the stoma products on the market are designed to make the experience of using an ostomy bag more comfortable for the wearer. Stoma powders are a good example of this, working to absorb moisture from any raw or broken skin surrounding the stoma, and ensuring this damaged skin is able to heal more quickly - without impairing the adhesion of the stoma barrier itself.

Similarly, when removing the stoma barrier, some ostomates make use of a spray or wipe designed to get rid of any excess adhesives, allowing them to take off their bags more quickly and easily without risking damage to the skin. By combining the two products, people with stomas can address some of the most common complaints associated with wearing a stoma bag.

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Another frequent worry that ostomates have about their condition is the fear of unpleasant odours. While this should not be a cause for concern in most circumstances, a number of specialised deodorant products are available to minimise the risk of odours escaping from their pouches during the removal and changing process.

Scented drops and sprays can be purchased and added to the inside of the bag during the changing process, which helps to neutralise the smell. Many of these stoma-specific deodorants also have a lubricating effect, which helps to eliminate static and stop the sides of the pouch from sticking together to reduce its capacity - a problematic effect known to many users as “pancaking”.

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Ostomy belts and stoma shields

Some ostomates require additional support to help keep their pouches in place at all times. Ostomy belts can be a great way to do this, holding the stoma bag in the correct place to prevent leaks, especially if the wearer is involved in some kind of physical activity.

Belts are particularly useful when the wearer has suffered a hernia or requires extra support to help prevent this; they are also helpful for those with retracted stomas, making it harder for them to keep their pouch in the right place. However, belts are not needed in all circumstances, and certain pouch designs are not suitable for use with ostomy belts,so it’s best to ask a medical professional for advice on whether to use these accessories.

For a heavy-duty alternative, stoma shields can be purchased that work on a similar principle to ostomy belts, but with the addition of a hard plastic casing to protect the stoma. These are particularly useful for those who are getting involved in contact sports or some other high-impact activity, and can really help ostomates to stay physically active.

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By looking into the full range of available stoma accessories, ostomates will be able to find the products they need to address any inconveniences associated with their condition and live the most comfortable lifestyle possible.

For more information on how to make the most of life with a stoma, check out our guide to exercising with a stoma, or our feature on debunking the most common negative myths associated with being an ostomate.

Stoma Compensation Claims

Potter Rees Dolan’s specialist team of clinical negligence solicitors is here to help you make a claim for compensation if you have suffered negligence that resulted in living with a stoma.

Stomas require you to significantly adapt your day-to-day life, with those adaptations being permanent in some cases. Typically, stomas are needed by people with chronic diseases such as Crohn’s disease or colitis, but on occasion the need for a stoma can be caused by medical negligence - such as a delay in diagnosing cancer or a perforation during a routine operation.

The team at Potter Rees Dolan has some of the best clinical negligence solicitors in the business ready to help you get the compensation you deserve. Helen Dolan, Lesley Herbertson, Helen Budge and Gill Edwards are able to offer expert legal advice to those who have to live with a stoma through no fault of their own, and many members of the team have featured in the prestigious Legal 500 and Chambers guides.

If you think you may be entitled to compensation or would like to talk through the details of your case, call us on 0800 027 2557, or get in touch by completing the contact form on this page and a member of the team will call you back at a time convenient for you.