Some say it’s ankle boots, others say leopard print, but we all know that this season’s hottest fashion accessory is an ostomy bag. Well, that might be taking it a little far, but just because you’ve had a colectomy and need to wear a colostomy bag, doesn’t mean you can’t look fabulous, fashionable and fancy free this season. With a bit of clever dressing you can work your ostomy into your wardrobe and still turn heads.
A good outfit is built on a good foundation – your knickers! Some ‘ostomates’ like to wear their bag in their underwear so a higher cut brief or short may suit them best. Others feel comfortable with their ostomy bag hanging outside their underwear so any unmentionables will work, from boxers or bikini briefs to a classic g-string. Comfort and style are subjective for everyone, so you just have to find out what works for you.
Some ostomate-friendly apparel companies design underwear specifically to accommodate bags and stomas. These designs often feature a pocket or belt to hold your bag secure and flat against your body for comfort and easy dressing. There’s also the option of an ostomy belt that allows you to wear your usual underwear. The belt is worn around the lower abdomen and made of soft, stretchy fabric that flattens and conceals your bag against your skin.
Pants, skirts, dresses – your day-to-day outfits
Straight after surgery you might want to make a beeline for your PJs or sweat pants – the sartorial equivalent of comfort food. And that’s fine. While you’re healing you need to keep comfy and treat your scar with a bit of TLC courtesy of soft fabrics and maybe the odd elastic waistband.
Once you’re fully recovered, though, it’s time to make a return to your favourite outfits. Wearing an ostomy bag doesn’t mean you have to rush out and buy a whole a new wardrobe (though maybe a little retail therapy will…ahem…speed up your recovery?).
Your old staples and favourites shouldn’t pose any issues for your post-op bod. If you wore tight clothes before your surgery, feel free to return to the skinny jeans afterwards, though you may notice a small amount of restriction as your bag fills up. Wearing a tight, thin singlet layer can help keep the bag flat against your skin and disguise any small bulge. Whatever your pre-op style, your old favourite outfits should all still serve you well. The most important thing to remember is that your clothes should make you feel comfortable and confident. If something you loved wearing before your surgery now makes you feel weird or self-conscious, just move on to another ensemble. You can also find clothing specifically designed for ‘ostomates’ by doing a quick search online.
When it comes to swimming with an ostomy bag, you can be loud and proud and just wear your usual trunks, bikini or one piece with the bag visible. By creating more visibility of stomas in the public eye, you’ll actually be helping to raise awareness about IBD in the community. If showing off your bag isn’t your style, there are quite a few companies who manufacture stylish swimsuits specifically designed to accommodate and conceal ostomy bags. This is often achieved with the help of a purpose built pocket and some artful gathers in the fabric.
Remember, you never have to compromise on your style just because you have a stoma. Be bold, be brave, be yourself and let your style make a statement about the person you are on the inside.