After ileostomy surgery, your first step is choosing the ostomy pouching system that works best for you.
One of the most important decisions you’ll make following your ileostomy surgery is which ostomy pouching system to use. Finding the right appliance for your body shape, stoma, and lifestyle can greatly improve your outlook and enable you to enjoy a high quality of life.
After your surgery, the hospital will fit you with an ostomy pouching system. However, you are not limited to what the hospital provides. As you recover, your stoma may change in size, and you can explore other options as you become more active.
During ileostomy surgery, the surgeon creates an opening in the abdomen through which fecal matter exits. This opening is known as a stoma. Your ostomy pouching system is fitted over the stoma, and the bag collects your stools. That’s the general concept of how ostomy pouching appliances are assembled, but there are many different structures available. Depending on your preferences and activity level, you can choose the one best suited for your lifestyle.
One vs. Two Piece. Ostomy systems come in two basic types: one or two pieces. In one-piece systems, the bag is attached to the wafer or barrier that lines the skin and has the opening for the stoma. A two-piece system has a separate wafer where the bag clips into place. A one-piece system must be replaced all at once. With a two-piece system, the bag can be changed when needed, but the wafer can stay on if it’s intact for two to three days.
Closed vs. Open. The bag itself may be closed, allowing for no drainage, or have an opening from which you empty the contents. Closed bags work better for stools that are firm, but you’ll likely need to replace the bag twice daily. With an open pouch, you drain the stools whenever the bag becomes full. Open pouches are recommended if your output is liquid. An open or drainable bag can be worn for two to three days.
Pre-Cut vs. Cut-to-Fit. You can order either a pre-cut skin barrier wafer or a cut-to-fit wafer. A pre-cut wafer comes with an already made stoma opening. You may choose this type if your stoma hasn’t changed much in size since your surgery. A cut-to-fit wafer allows you to measure and cut the opening to your specific stoma as it shifts in size. Because you can adjust the opening as your stoma changes, you cut down on the possibility of leaks and skin irritation.
Flat vs. Convex. Flat skin barriers attach flush with your body, and therefore, are less noticeable under your clothes. Conversely, convex types are curved and press inward on the skin around the stoma. Although convex barriers may protrude outward a bit more, they conform over any skin creases or surgical scars better.
Large vs. Small. You can choose a small, medium-, or large-sized pouch. The smallest are stoma caps, which are useful for those who irrigate their stoma regularly. Other sizes range between medium (about 7 inches in length and holding about 400 to 500 millimeters of output) to extra large (which holds up to 1,200 millimeters of output).
With the help of an ostomy nurse, you can find a comfortable pouching system that’s perfect for your lifestyle. Remember, your stoma size may change over time, so you may need to alter your pouching system to accommodate the new measurements. Fortunately, there are many manufacturers and products from which to choose. Most are available via mail-order, and your ostomy nurse can help you in ordering your supplies. Just make sure your insurance covers these supplies, which are considered durable medical equipment.
The Center for Ileostomy Surgery has helped thousands of patients recover from ostomy surgery and live a full life. Our staff works closely with each patient and their family to ensure a smooth recovery, including finding the right after-care ostomy supplies. Contact us today for a consultation.