A Gentlemen’s Guide to Dressing with an Ostomy: Part 2
After getting a stoma, the thought of dressing in normal clothes without everyone noticing your ostomy bag can seem out of the question. At first, it can feel overwhelming and impossible to find outfits that are comfortable and conceal an ostomy. It may even seem like you’re going to be stuck wearing sweatpants for the rest of your life. Rest easy knowing this is not the case! There are many ways to dress to be comfortable, fashionable and confident, even with an ostomy. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to get back to wearing the clothes you love in no time.
Concealing an Ostomy Bag
When you feel like the time is right to start getting back into the swing of normal life again, one of the first steps to finding a routine is dressing in “normal” clothes again. Essentially, this means transitioning to clothes other than the sweats you’ve been wearing during recovery. Figuring out what clothes work best for you will primarily be determined through the process of trial and error. You may find that some or most of your old clothes work perfectly fine with your ostomy, or you may discover that you need to invest in something new. Through experimenting with different clothes, styles and ostomy accessories, you will eventually learn what makes you most comfortable and confident.
After determining which type of underwear and ostomy accessories (see Part 1) work best for you, the next step is to put together an outfit that successful hides your bag. This can be done in a couple different ways. Using these tricks, you’ll be able to dress without drawing attention to your bag.
The Number One Rule
Empty Bag: Keeping your bag empty is the best way to keep it from being noticeable. It’s best to empty your bag when it’s about 1/3 full. Your stoma, diet and eating habits will help determine how quickly your bag fills throughout the day.
Finding the Right Bottoms
One Size Bigger: Wearing bottoms one size wider at the waist than normal is one of the most common ways to conceal a bag. It hides the bag and provides enough room for the bag to fit comfortably and fill without becoming visible. Avoid wearing pants that are too tight, as they make the bag more noticeable and could potentially cause a leak by restricting the output.
Elastic/Stretch Waistbands: Bottoms with an elastic waistband or made of material with a little stretch to it are comfortable to wear as they do not put too much pressure directly on the stoma and do not restrict the flow of output.
Adjustable Waistline: Pants with an adjustable waistline are great because they can be altered to fit your stoma, waist and any ostomy accessories, without putting too much pressure directly on the stoma.
High Waistline: Try to wear bottoms with a higher waistline that sit above the stoma. This not only helps conceal the bag, but it does not put pressure on the stoma or cause a restriction to the output.
Pleated: Pants that are pleated work well to camouflage a bag.
Custom Pants: There are specialized ostomy pants that can be ordered online that come with a pocket in the front to support an ostomy bag.
Finding the Right Tops
Dark Colors: Dark clothes are slimming and work well to disguise a bag bulge. Dark colors hide a bag better than light colors.
Patterned Shirts: Shirts with patterns and designs are great at distracting from the problem area. Patterns, with so much going on, make any potential bag bulge much less noticeable.
Loose Fitting Shirts: Stay away from shirts that are too tight that could draw attention to your ostomy. Instead, many men have had success buying shirts one size larger than normal. This gives the bag enough room to fill without bulging through the shirt.
Finding the Right Accessories
Layers: Keep something on hand, like a jacket, vest or sweatshirt, to put on or hold over your stomach if you can’t make it to the bathroom right away. Wearing an extra layer of clothing also provides additional concealment. Suspenders: If you find that you cannot wear a traditional belt anymore because it is too tight on your stoma, suspenders are an excellent option to relieve pressure from your stoma, while also holding up your pants.
By using these tips and tricks, it is possible to dress in a way that is comfortable, stylish and, above all, hides an ostomy bag. Keep in mind, everyone is different so you may find that not every tip works for you. In fact, you may find different ones that work even better. Remain openminded and continue to search for what works best for you. Embracing your personal style, whatever it may be, is still possible, even with an ostomy!
Have you completed the IBD in America survey? Answer poll for survey link.