Ostomy pouches come in many different sizes and types. When looking at an ostomy supply catalogue, you’ll see that most companies offer the same sizes and types of pouches as their competitors – the biggest difference between the pouches (in my opinion) is the materials used to make them.

Your surgeon will put a generic ostomy pouch on you during surgery. This will likely be the brand of ostomy supplies that the hospital has a contract with. The ostomy nurse will probably introduce you to this ostomy-manufacturer too, but hopefully they’ll have some insight to what specific features you might prefer in an ostomy pouch (yes, there are features), and set you up with some extras to take home initially. Your ostomy nurse will also likely give you information as to how to order more supplies and tell you what size to get. They may even help you get signed up with an ostomy supply manufacturer’s new-ostomate program, where the manufacturer sends you samples of some of their products. If you’ve left the hospital and don’t know how to order more ostomy supplies, check out this list of distributors and give them a ring to see if they take your insurance.

Here are some tips for figuring out which products might work best for you:

  • Always test a product on a different part of your skin before using it around your ostomy when you have the opportunity. This way, if you’re allergic to something, you don’t have a rash on your peristomal skin.
  • Call all of the different manufacturers and order samples, then try them out. Tell the manufacturer you’re a new ostomate and many of them will send you a little starter kit. Many of the manufacturers have ostomy nurses on hand that can talk to you and give you advice for what products you might like to try.
  • Talk to your ostomy nurse about any other products to use in conjunction with your ostomy pouch (ie. skin barriers, pastes, and seals).
  • Remember that you can mix it up and use a pouching system from one manufacturer, but a skin barrier spray from another, and a seal from a third.
  • Experiment with combinations until you find what works for you.

Once you choose which supplies you want to use, order them!