Tips for Dressing with an Ostomy Pouch

Adjusting to life with an ostomy can be both scary and challenging. It takes time to learn how to manage your new stoma and pouching system. The natural fear is that your life will be drastically different including how you dress. Once you are healed from surgery, you can go back to your favorite fashions, and nobody will know you have a pouch.

Here are five tips to help you feel more confident when dressing with an ostomy pouch.

Never Miss a Beat!

Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!

Message and data rates may apply. Text the word STOP to opt out and HELP for help. Click here to view the privacy and terms.

Start With a Good Foundation

Choosing the right undergarments can be helpful and allows the ostomy to feel secure and close to your body. There is underwear made specifically for ostomates that can be purchased online. They are typically higher waisted and have a pocket to secure the pouch. Some prefer to wear the type of underwear they wore before surgery, perhaps with added spandex to offer extra support.

Many online companies make special underwear for both men and women who wear an ostomy pouch. Generally, they’re high-waisted, have a built-in pocket to hold your pouch, and are snug-fitting to keep things in place.

Utilize Ostomy Wraps

Ostomy wraps are great to have on hand. These wraps are a wide band of stretchy fabric with a hidden pocket to hold your ostomy pouch. They fit snugly around your waist and are an excellent option to hold and conceal your pouch.

One can wear an ostomy wrap over their clothes or over the waist of their pants to provide an extra sense of support. With most ostomy wraps, your pouch can lay vertically.

Ostomy bands are similar, but they are narrower and allow you to wear your pouch horizontally. They hold your ostomy pouch close to your body and allow it to evenly distribute the stool. That can make a full pouch less noticeable.

A less expensive alternative to ostomy wraps or bands is a maternity wrap or belly band. These can help smooth out the area around your ostomy pouch, but they don’t have the inside pocket to hold the pouch.

Try New Styles

There is a good probability your existing wardrobe will be just fine. Don’t forget, you can always add a wrap to hold your pouch in place for the extra sense of security. However, some patients may be ready for a change and want a new look. Wherever you fall on the fashion spectrum, if adding to your wardrobe lifts your spirits it might be just the thing you need.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Some ostomates find that higher waisted pants with some stretch and a loose-fitting top is very comfortable and conceals their pouch nicely. A good trick to keep in mind if you are wearing something snug fitting is to pick an outfit with folds or pleats near the waist area. It will make you feel more confident that nobody can see your pouch.

Wear It Proudly

Sometimes you might want to feel a bit of freedom and let your pouch show. This is completely up to you and your comfort level. It can be a good way to get used to your new body.

If you are having hard time looking at your pouch, there are great pouch covers that might be helpful. You can wear these covers under your garments or when the pouch is exposed. There are a large variety and can be easily found online.

Dressing with your new ostomy might seem overwhelming at first. Keep these tips in the back of your mind to ease you into what works best for you.

About Digestive Disorders

UPMC Digestive Health Care cares for a wide range of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions and diseases, from diagnosis to treatment. Whether your digestive condition is common or complicated, our experts can help. Upon referral from your physician, we coordinate your testing and treatment. If you have a complicated condition, we can refer you to one of UPMC’s digestive health centers of excellence. Find a GI doctor near you.