Community Tips: Concealing Your Ostomy Bag
Last updated: March 2023
For many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including those with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, there may come a time when treatment is not enough to control disease progression. At that point, it may be time for surgery. And for some, that surgery means a proctocolectomy with an ileostomy.
During a proctocolectomy, the rectum, anus and large intestine are removed. Because the person will no longer be able to pass stool through the anus, the surgeon creates an end ileostomy: a small opening in the lower abdomen, or stoma, through which the end of the ileum is brought and attached to an ostomy bag to collect stool.1
After recovering from surgery, living day in and day out with an ostomy bag can be quite a change. With it can come many questions and concerns.
Our contributors have answered a few of these questions, including how to sleep and date with an ostomy. But one of our community members had another question: "How do I comfortably hide my ostomy bag under clothing?"
So, we asked you in the community for your ostomy wardrobe tips and tricks. And the outpour of support was incredible! Below are a few of your thoughts.
Tight and smooth clothing for an ostomy bag
"Under Armor makes compression shorts, kinda like spandex. It holds it perfectly!"
"I wore a lot of yoga pants. Bought a size bigger so that they went up over my bag, then I wore a tight-fitting tank top under."
"I cut off the bottom halves of tight tank tops and wore them to help flatten and support my ileostomy bag."
"They carry men and women’s underwear for people who have an ostomy bag. It has an inner lining to hold your bag. I love the lacy ones!"
"I wear Spanx or some sort of shapewear under tighter-fitting clothes."
"I use a maternity band doubled over around my bag."
"I usually wear a tight-fitting tank under my clothes."
Loose and flowy clothing for an ostomy
"For the summer months, dresses are very comfortable and don't put pressure on your bag like a waistband would."
"On pants, even jeans, I get a size bigger. Or even a pleated front!"
"If I wear skinny or tighter pants, I usually have a longer, loose-fitting shirt on."
"I have lots of lovely scarves. It acts as an accessory and camouflages when needed."
"Maternity shirts!!! They are amazing! Most of them are made to be tighter up top and flare out below. This worked perfectly for me!! The part that flared out completely hid my bag."
"I went with the Aloha shirt for a while."
Releasing and decompressing the ostomy bag itself
"I wear a burp-able bag so I can quickly release gas, and no more bulge."
"Close-ended bags are smaller, smoother and easier to conceal. No clip bulk. That helped immediately."
"Make sure to keep your bag changed often because bag filters go bad quickly and then will bloat with gas sometimes, whereas new bags will filter the gas better and lay flatter!"
Important thing to note about an ostomy bag
Many times, your eye is the most critical of all. Many commenters felt they never had to hide their bag, as people don't tend to look closely or even take note of it.
"I have had my bag for 36 years, and never had to hide it. No one would know I even had one. I believe it's in your mind set."
"It’s mainly in your head. You see it because you are looking for it. But others don't think twice."
"Most people are typically so concerned with how they look that they don't pays enough attention to something as small as a bag under your shirt."
How about you? Do you have any tips or tricks for keeping your ostomy bag comfortably concealed? We’d love to hear from you, so share in the comments below!
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