Clothing can be frustrating, especially right after surgery when you’re trying to figure out if you have to buy a whole new wardrobe or if the one you already own will work, maybe with some modifications. If you’re concerned about your ostomy pouch being visible under your clothes, wearing darker colors or patterns is a great way to disguise it. For stomas located above the waistline, maternity pants can be more comfortable to wear, or low rise jeans – often times regular pants end up sitting right on the stoma which can irritate it. There are some accessories that can help protect your stoma, allowing you to more comfortably wear pants that land right on it.
After going to some support group meetings, experimenting with your own clothes, and seeing other websites about ostomy fashion, you’ll see that you can wear pretty much anything you want! There’s a cool facebook group called Osto-MY FASHION – this group was designed for female ostomates to share their fashion tips (sorry guys!). It’s mostly people putting up pictures of the outfits they wear so you get an idea of what kinds of clothes might work. My friend Eric, who runs the blog Vegan Ostomy, wrote a great clothing guide for men and clothing guide for women.
In or Out of the pants?
I was very curious about whether I should tuck my ostomy pouch into my pants or wear long shirts and lower-rise pants and just let it hang out. After some experimentation, I mix it up depending on the outfit. Do what’s comfortable for you. Initially, I tended to wear the belt that worked with my appliance for added support when I was out for long periods of time or out walking. I also wore a maternity band that I got at Target if I wanted to wear tighter clothes. The maternity belt is a “cheap” version of an “ostomy wrap”, though some of the wraps are pretty cool. The maternity band is loose enough that output still flows just fine (this was a major concern for me). As I got more comfortable with my ostomy, I found some high-waisted, stretchy shorts that worked great under dresses holding everything close and providing support. That’s what I wear most of the time. I also wear yoga pants and the stretchy top acts as a band so I don’t feel the need to wear any additional support.
Don’t get rid of your old clothes right after surgery! As you heal and adjust, you may fit into them again (if you lost weight like I did) and may find that you can adapt them to your new needs. After a year, I went through my closet and tried on a lot of my pre-surgery clothes. Though I did purge some clothes, for the most part, the reasons were not ostomy related. Had I purged right after surgery, I probably would have gotten rid of almost everything.
Want to see more pictures and descriptions of outfits I’ve worn? Check out my blog!