Good news: you don’t need to buy a new wardrobe after an ileostomy. You can still wear your favorite styles with a few adjustments.
Getting accustomed to your new lifestyle after ileostomy surgery takes time and patience, and one of the concerns you may have is what to wear following the operation. Fortunately, with some minor adjustments, you can enjoy the same fashions you did prior to the operation.
You’ll be sore immediately after the surgery, so slipping on roomy sweats will likely make you feel the most comfortable. As you heal, though, you can start trying on clothes that are fashionable and give you the self-confidence to resume your daily activities. In fact, you may be surprised how many styles you can continue wearing following your ileostomy.
Putting together a wardrobe following an ileostomy is all about finding what works for you and what doesn’t. And it’s natural to wonder whether your ostomy bag is visible. (Generally, it won’t be.) With these six tips, you can dress with poise and confidence while also being true to your unique style.
Dark Colors. If you worry that your ostomy bag will be noticeable underneath your pants or skirt, wear dark-colored bottoms to hide the outline of the pouch. Dark colors can also conceal any bulge from a half-filled bag.
High-Waisted Bottoms. High-waisted pants, shorts, and skirts cover your stoma and provide full coverage over your pouch. Make sure your pants or skirts fit comfortably over the pouch, but aren’t too snug. If the bottom is extremely tight, it may block outflow from filling the bag and cause a bulge or leak.
Loose-fitting Clothes. Shirts, skirts, dresses, and pants that fit loosely over your abdomen and aren’t too restrictive provide the support you need to keep your pouch in place. Any garment that is too tight may interfere with waste matter emptying into the bag. Yet if you want to wear more tight-fitting clothing, you can do so with the help of stretchy shapewear like Spanx or exercise shorts that flatten the pouch close to the body so it won’t be noticeable.
Multiple Layers. Another way to add extra support and coverage is with multiple layers of clothing. For example, a tank top worn under a shirt or a sweater paired over a shirt obscures an ostomy pouch while at the same time providing another layer of supportive padding. Leggings are also a great option to wear under a dress or tunic.
Ostomate Garments. If you find the undergarments available in stores don’t quite fit your body or the placement of your stoma, you can purchase pieces specifically designed for ostomates. Bands, belts, and underwear with pockets for your pouch can be worn under your regular clothes. These elastic garments come in a variety of styles and fabrics, and secure your pouch in place so you won’t worry about bulges or leaks. You can talk to your ostomy nurse about ordering undergarments and other clothing items for ostomates from medical supply companies.
One final tip: Always empty your pouch when it’s about a third full. If you wait until it is fully filled, the pouch will expand and possibly be visible under your clothing.
At the Center for Ileostomy Surgery, Dr. Don Schiller has helped hundreds of patients return to a high quality of life after an abdominal operation. Our staff will be with you each step of the way as you learn to adapt to your new lifestyle, from immediately after surgery to your full recovery. Contact us today for an appointment.