If you need to get an ostomy and are left with a stoma, for whatever medical reason indicated by your doctor, you’re going to need to find an ostomy bag / pouching system. For some people, this news can be difficult to deal with. It will change the way you move throughout your day and will require some essential adaptations.

However, there are a number of different sizes, shapes, and functionality features for ostomy bags that range in prices and can help you live an otherwise normal life. Ostomy bags aren’t made as one size fits all accessories.  Many Ostomates fall victim to the common misconceptions that daily leakage and skin irritation are normal occurrences that come with the territory of having an ostomy. The reality is, they are going through unnecessary struggles due to the fact that they aren’t using the best products for my individual situation.

There are vast selections that can make choosing the right ostomy bag overwhelming, but there are a few ways to make the selection process easier. In this article, we’ll explore how to choose an ostomy bag that works well for your lifestyle and personal preferences.

The most important point to note is that THERE IS NO ROYLES ROYCE of pouching system, and you may find that you need to use a combination of supplier product to suite your lifestyle. 

You should also feel confident enough to speak with your Stoma Nurse who will help you to explore the possible pouching solutions to meet your individual needs.

What is an Ostomy Bag?

After an ostomy, you will need an ostomy bag to collect the waste that’s expelled from your digestive or urinary system. This connects to your stoma so that it’s directly emptied without any added effort. Ostomy bags are worn outside the body but are easily concealed underneath clothes. If you’ve had an ostomy, wearing an ostomy bag is important to avoid any leakage from urine, stool, or gas.

Different Types of Ostomy Bags

At the most basic level, there are three primary types of surgeries that require ostomy bags. Each type depends on the type of ostomy procedure performed on you. Once you have an idea of which pouching system you’ll need, you can choose one based on further options discussed below.


If you need to get a colostomy, a part of your large intestine is redirected out into a stoma, typically on the lower left side of your abdomen. More often than not, this results in consistently firm, formed stool output and will need to be replaced or emptied a few times every day – on average twice a day. Sometimes, a temporary colostomy is done to help aid in healing after surgery or an injury, other times a colostomy is permanent. 


An ileostomy is done when your small intestine is redirected through a stoma, typically on the right side of your abdomen. This results in a need to discard output frequently (6 – 8 times a day), which will affect your preferences for types of bags.


A urostomy is done when your small intestines are redirected to divert urine from the ureters through the stoma. This is done when the bladder is removed or needs to be bypassed for healing. A urostomy creates a stoma that’s usually located on the right side of the abdomen.

Choosing the Right Ostomy Bag


Every person is different, which means that preferences for the types of ostomy bags will vary. Because of this, there are a number of different features and options for your ostomy bag. Choosing the right one will help you stay comfortable and maintain your lifestyle needs. Different ostomy bags work well for different activities, so if you live in active lifestyle, it may be beneficial to get numerous types of ostomy bags to use in each corresponding setting.

The main distinction between the different options for ostomy bags, after determining which type you will need, is whether or not it is a one-piece or two-piece system. One-piece ostomy bags include a skin barrier and a pouch while two-piece ostomy bags keep the skin barrier and pouch separate. Once you determine whether or not you’ll want a one-piece or a two-piece ostomy bag, you can look at other options.

One-Piece Ostomy Bags

A one-piece ostomy bag has a conjoined bag and skin barrier, making it necessary to change the entire system with each replacement. One-piece bags are good for people wanting a more discreet ostomy bag, but may lead to more discomfort and irritation than a two-piece bag. This is a good option if you’re active or play sports. PLEASE NOTE THAT ACTIVE LIFESTYLE DOES NOT JUST REFER TO SPORTS. FOR EXAMPLE, SOMEONE WORKING IN CONSTRUCTION HAS AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE.

Two-Piece Ostomy Bags

Two-piece ostomy bags are generally considered more comfortable and tend to cause less irritation. The skin barrier can be kept in place for 2-4 days without needing to be changed out and the bag can be changed without removing the skin barrier. Because the parts are separate, it’s easy to change out the bag quickly.

Drainable Ostomy Bags

A drainable ostomy bag allows you to empty the contents of your pouch and then reuse it. This is a good option for people who are busy and need more accessibility with their ostomy bag.

Close-End Ostomy Bags

Close-end ostomy bags are made for single use and need to be discarded afterwards. Once the pouch has been filled, the entire bag needs to be properly discarded to avoid leakage or infection. Depending on your output and everyday needs, a close-end ostomy bag may be the best option for you.

Flat Ostomy Bags

Most ostomy bags are flat and have an adhesive backing to keep the ostomy bag in a fixed position. This creates a more discreet bag fitting since the bag is flush with your body.

Convex Ostomy Bags

Some people prefer convex bags, which tends to protrude out more. Convex ostomy bags help to accommodate flush stomas, creases, telescoping stomas, and better adapts to skin wrinkles, and surgical scars.4

Pediatric Ostomy Bags

Pediatric ostomy bags are smaller and made for infants or children. However, they can also be used for adults who prefer the discreetness of a smaller pouch. If this is the case, they will need be emptied more frequently to avoid overflow.

Finding the perfect ostomy bag might take a little trial and error. Don’t expect to order something and have it work perfectly the first time around. You will need to test the product to make sure that it’s comfortable and works for your lifestyle. When using a new pouching system, always be on the lookout for any signs of allergic on your skin. If this happens, you need to IMMEDIATELY consult your Stoma Nurse. Many manufacturers will provide samples if you ask, so don’t be afraid to do so. Talk to your doctor and your stoma nurse about additional accessories and remember to be patient during this time. Choosing the right ostomy bag is tedious but will help you stay comfortable and manage your ostomy with ease. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or ostomy nurse.  

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