About your Ostomy Care
What is an ostomy?
An ostomy is a surgical procedure. When a part of the digestive system is diseased or damaged and not able to work normally, a hole is made in the abdomen and a portion of the small or large intestine is brought to the surface of the skin. This opening is known as the ostomy, and the end of the exposed intestine is known as the stoma. A colostomy and an ileostomy are cared for in a similar manner with similar products.
When you have a colostomy or ileostomy, waste leaves the body through the stoma, the end of the intestine that is attached to the abdominal wall, instead of the anus. Since there is no muscle around the stoma, you are not able to control when waste or gas passes out of the body. An odor-proof plastic pouch (an ostomy pouch) surrounds the stoma to collect the waste. It is held to your skin with an adhesive. Pouching systems may be one-piece or two-piece.
In a two-piece system, the pouch and barrier (sometimes called a flange or wafer) are separate. The pouch contains a closing ring that attaches it to the barrier. This is generally a snap ring, similar to those found on food-storage containers. The barrier fits around the stoma and sticks to your skin.
In a one-piece system, the pouch and barrier are a single unit.
Other accessories may include:
- Curved (convex) barriers, which conform better to some abdomens.
- Ostomy belts, which help support the pouch.
- Ostomy Pouch covers, which conceal the pouch.
- Skin barrier paste, which fills in folds or skin irregularities of the abdomen to form a better seal.
- Skin wipes or powders, which protect the skin under the barrier and around the stoma.
- Tape, which supports the barrier and is used for waterproofing.
- Tape remover, which makes removing the pouch easier.
Read more about ostomy care on WebMD.
Looking for more? The following are links to ostomy support groups and resources help you learn more about ostomy.
United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA)
Young Ostomate & Diversion Alliance of America (YODAA)
Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nurses Society (WOCN)