Tips for Wearing a Swimsuit With an Ostomy

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and is a great way to get back in shape after ostomy surgery. Once you’re fully healed from your surgery and your doctor gives you the OK, it’s safe to go in. You might be nervous or self-conscious about wearing a swimsuit around others with your ostomy pouch (bag).

However, there are many options when shopping for a swimsuit. Here are five tips that might help you feel more confident.

Try Different Styles of Swimsuits

With so many different styles of swimsuits available, finding one that’s flattering and covers your ostomy bag is easier than you think. Many companies design swimsuits specifically for those who have an ostomy. However, all swimsuits work just fine.

You can wear a standard one-piece suit, a tankini, or a high-waisted bikini. A two-piece swim dress is comfortable, convenient, and easily conceals your ostomy bag. Darker colors, gathering in the midsection, or patterns will distract the eye and make your pouching system less noticeable.

Another option is board shorts. You can find these at most sporting goods stores. These swimming trunks tend to have a higher rise in the crotch and longer legs. You can also wear spandex shorts under swim trunks or any swimsuit to help keep your ostomy bag securely in place.

Make sure you try on a wide range of styles. Make sure you try on a wide range of styles because chances are you will find one that works best for you.

Use an Ostomy Swim Wrap

Ostomy swim wraps are wide, stretchy spandex bands with pockets to hold your pouch. They work much like spandex shorts but without the hassle of legs or a crotch. Ostomy wraps fit close to your body and can help to further hide your ostomy bag while securing it at the same time.

You can wear an ostomy swim wrap under or over your swimsuit, but it’s not just for swimming. It’s a great accessory that helps conceal your ostomy bag when wearing light summer clothing or when exercising.

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.

Go Bold with an Ostomy Bag Cover

Many people choose to proudly display their ostomy bag — especially if it’s from a surgery that saved your life. In that case, an ostomy bag cover might be just what you’re looking for. It hides the contents of your pouch and comes in different patterns or colors so you can coordinate with your swimwear.

Pouch covers don’t support or hold your bag in place, so they’re not the best option for extreme water sports. But if you’re swimming in a private pool or wading in the water, they’ll work just fine. Ostomy bag covers are also relatively inexpensive, so they’re an easy way to express your personality or make a fashion statement. It’s also OK to display your pouch without a cover. There are no rules or regulations, whatever makes you comfortable is what’s important.

Try at Home First

Regardless of which option you choose, understand your pouch will be more visible when your swimsuit is wet.

If you’re new to swimming with your ostomy bag, try things out in the privacy of your home first. Wear your swimwear in the shower or bathtub and see how it looks. That way, you’ll know what to expect when you’re swimming in public.

Empty Your Pouch Often

To help your bag maintain a low profile, make sure you empty it often. Ideally, aim to empty it when it’s about one-third full, and release any gas as soon as possible. The more you empty your pouch, it will appear flatter and less noticeable.

When choosing a swimsuit, consider how easy (or challenging) it will be to empty your pouch. Many women opt for a two-piece swimsuit because it’s more convenient when wearing it for a full day.

Wearing an ostomy bag will require some life adjustment, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t swim or participate in water sports. Try different options for swimsuits and maybe even different types of ostomy pouches. And remember, the sooner you get back in the water, the more comfortable you’ll be.

About Digestive Disorders

The UPMC Digestive Disorders Center 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.