Convex Flanges: How to Choose and Use Them for Ostomy Patients

An ostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an opening abdomen to the surface of your skin. This allows stool, urine, and gas to exit through your stoma. There are many different types of ostomies, including ileostomy, colostomy, and urostomy. Ostomies can be temporary or permanent depending on what is causing blockages in your colons, such as Crohn’s Disease or cancer. The best way to live with an ostomy depends on how much time you will need one for and which type you have been given. One important thing about living with an ostomy is making sure that it doesn’t leak because this could create discomfort or embarrassment for yourself and others. This article explains how to use convex flanges with your ostomy bag.

Types of Ostomies

There are many different types of ostomies, including ileostomy, colostomy, and urostomy. The kind you have will depend on which body part or organ is causing blockages in your colon that need to be removed. This will determine the type of ostomy you have and how long it’s needed.

If your ileostomy is temporary, you will be able to reverse it by having another surgery that reconnects your small intestines with your rectum or anus. If your colostomy is temporary, then you may be able to change it by reconnecting your colon to the rectum or anus. If your ileostomy or colostomy is permanent, then you will have a stoma for the rest of your life.

Urostomies are surgeries that create an opening in the bladder so urine can drain out instead of being released through the urethra. There are different types of urostomies depending on who they are needed for and what the problem is. It is possible to reverse a urostomy if you have another surgery that attaches your bladder to the urinary tract.

Ostomies can be temporary or permanent, depending on what caused them to be created in the first place. Temporary ostomies are often reversible, but permanent ostomies are not.

Materials Needed

Convex flanges are created using many different materials. Patients may be given specific instructions on which material to use based on their stoma size, location, and function. However, some standard materials can generally be used by patients with an ostomy. Material choices include silicone, foam, latex, and plastic.

Silicone creates a robust and flexible flange that is durable and can be used by patients with heavy drainage or long-term wear. Silicone won’t absorb liquid or fray easily so that it will last through almost any situation. However, it doesn’t have pores to allow ventilation, which may cause skin irritation for some users.

Foam is a soft, lightweight option that comes in many varieties of thickness and size. It also absorbs wetness, which helps prevent skin irritation. However, foam flanges may get stiff or break down faster than other materials depending on the brand.

Latex has pores to promote ventilation preventing skin irritation from prolonged use. It can be strong enough to hold up against heavy drainage when appropriately sealed, but latex may be less durable than other materials.

Plastic is a strong material that can withstand use in many different situations. It also offers ventilation to prevent skin irritation, but it may feel bulky or not form-fitting for users.

Choosing the Right Size

Convex flanges should be used with an ostomy bag to ensure that the stoma is covered and moisture is contained. They should fit snugly around the stoma so it can’t leak and not create discomfort or irritation.

Choosing the right size will depend on your specific body type and situation. Many brands have sizes available to accommodate various features, including stoma size, skin tone, and body type. Some flanges are also adjustable, so they can be easily adjusted when changing appliances over time.

Convex flanges come in different sizes, shapes, and thicknesses, depending on the brand. This allows you to choose the right fit for your particular stoma and situation.

Choosing the Right Style/Shape

Flanges can be generally categorized into three main styles: flat, convex, and contoured. Each of these styles may also come in different thicknesses depending on your needs.

You should select a style that will best accommodate where your stoma is located and how it functions. For example, flat flanges may be best used in areas where the stoma is flush with the skin and operates vertically. In contrast, convex flanges work well for stomas that protrude from the body or go horizontally.

How To Apply Ostomy Systems

You will learn the application of an ostomy system from your ostomy care nurse, but you may want to have a basic knowledge about the ostomy systems and the way you can use those systems.

One-piece ostomy pouching system

An ostomy pouching system that combines the skin barrier and the pouch to make one unit is known as the one-piece ostomy system. Here are the basic instructions on how you can use this system.

  • Clean the skin around the stoma and dry it well.
  • Measure the stoma.
  • If you are using a cut-to-fit ostomy pouch, be sure to prepare the skin barrier by creating an opening in it. This opening should be of the shape and size of your stoma.
  • Remove paper backing from the adhesive side of the stoma.
  • Place the pouching system over your stoma while making sure that the opening’s edges are not interfering with the stoma from any side.
  • Press the skin barrier gently, and make sure that there are no creases left under it, or it can cause leakage.
  • Keep the skin barrier pressed for a minute to ensure smoother application and a tighter, leak-proof seal.

Two-piece ostomy system

The ostomy pouching system that consists of a pouch and the skin barrier as two separable elements is known as a two-piece ostomy system. These elements connect through a coupling mechanism. Here is how you can apply this system.

  • Clean the skin around the stoma.
  • Measure your stoma to know its shape and size.
  • If you are using a cut-to-fit skin barrier, prepare it by creating a hole that matches the shape and size of your stoma. Alternatively, you can consider using a moldable skin barrier.
  • Remove backing paper from the adhesive side of the skin barrier.
  • Place the skin barrier over the stoma while making sure that the edges of the barrier opening do not interfere with the sides of the stoma.
  • Press the skin barrier well enough to ensure a tighter seal. Make sure to prevent the formation of any creases under the skin barrier. After the skin barrier is in place, snap the pouch on over the coupling device.

Removing the pouching system

You will need to change your ostomy pouch every 3-4 days, depending on the ability of the skin barrier to remain in place. Here is how you can remove an old pouching system.

  • Try to get hold of the outer edge of the skin barrier. Hold it between your fingers and peel it off the skin a little.
  • Press the skin near the edge of the skin barrier, and pull the skin barrier using your other hand. Use an adhesive remover if the seal is too strong.
  • Make sure to remain gentle with the process of skin barrier removal. You do not want to injure your peristomal skin.
  • After moving the skin barrier, wash the stoma and the skin around it. Make sure to avoid using soap that contains perfumes and oils, as they can leave a residue over the peristomal skin, compromising the skin’s ability to form a seal with the new skin barrier.
  • Before applying the skin barrier, clean the skin well, and dry it using a soft cloth.

Your Stoma is not a Handicap

I hear it a little too often for my liking and that is the thought that having an ostomy bag is a flat out handicap.  Granted these are words that I normally hear from a child and that I 100% normal and acceptable.  Lack of knowledge is what children generally have and with a few educational tips they are usually very accepting of anyone with a stoma.  But the reality is that many adults are under the impression that a stoma stops you from having a life.  In fact, they think that most normal things that people do for fun are not capable of a stoma.  Part of me simply laughs at this and part of me actually gets a little bit upset at the talk. The fact is that ignorance is no longer bliss once you are past the age of 18.  The talking down to anyone with a stoma is flat out unacceptable and if you have one and feel that way due to someone shaming you, I am simply sorry.  You are not any less than anyone.  In fact, you are flat out normal.

There are so many people that have done incredible things all while having an ostomy bag attached.  If you want to talk about greatness, for goodness sake NepolanBonapart had an ostomy.  He pretty much took over the world with an ostomy bag attached and no one ever talks about that.  In fact, he was so incredible he created the Napoleonic Law which is now the basis for almost all the legal law in the entire world.  This man was a bit of a megalomaniac but the fact is that he achieved immortality in history and accomplished amazing things all while having an ostomy.  So I know that is a bit of a crazy example, but another is an athlete that I look up to.

This man ended up getting a colostomy and wanted to not give up his professional career.  He was a professional bicycle rider for France and he decided that he wanted to prove that a stoma would not change his life for the worse in any way.  He ended up training with the goal of running an Iron Man competition in under 11 hours.  That is one of the most difficult physical feet in the entire world and a man with an ostomy decided he wanted to compete in it.  Not only did he compete but he succeeded in his goal of completing the 2 miles swim, 24-mile run, and 100 plus mile bike ride in under 11 hours. WOW  just wow.  That is an incredible accomplishment and he did it with regular ostomy gear.  That is flat out what I call not handicapped.

So do not simply take the fact that you have a stoma as a death sentence for being active or sucessfull.  Most people actually live the same life they did before with only a few extra daily routines.  Yes, there is a learning curve on how to handle the gear and how to handle your stoma and skin.  But it is a quick learnign curve and the ostomy gear of 2020 is flat out incredible.  Information is everywhere and you can simply go on social media and get all the regular fashion tips and lifestyle hacks on how to live a pretty wild life with a stoma.  So take heart and be great!

Hernia surgery 

You might have heard of a hernia in the past bust most are unaware of just what it is & what it means for the person who has it. Well as it happens, it is when something in your body pushes against some of the cracks in your muscles. This can be anywhere between the throat & the hips but most tend to occur around the abdomen or groin. 

So what causes a hernia to develop? Well, it is usually either muscle weakness or any type of strain in the groin area. Unfortunately, they tend to be quite common in people who do have a stoma. So how do you know if you have a hernia? Well, there are a handful of symptoms you should be on the look out for. The first is a big bulge that tends to form just behind a stoma. You may also feel a bit of discomfort in the area as well as some bloating. Some of the symptoms are like difficulty keeping your pouch in the right place different bowel habits & pain whenever you cough or carry objects. So if you do happen to have a hernia, what should you do about it? Well, the first thing that they recommend is to contact your GP or nurse so they can look you over. 

Though they are not typically, a hernia can become life threatening if left untreated. So even if you think it might be nothing, it’s just better to err on the safe side. The nurse can provide you with some tips on how to manage your symptoms so that it does not get out of control. They don’t usually prove to be much of a pain but can be a bit of a nuisance if you do not treat it as well as you should. If it gets too big, it can be seen under your clothes. If it tends to be small, you might want to consider some supportive under wear. This can include a support belt that can be worn all throughout the day to provide a bit more comfort to your life. 

It tends to be quite rare but in some cases, the intestine gets stuck in the hernia & if that happens, you may need to have a bit of surgery on it. Of course, if it is a small one, you will not need it most likely but if it becomes obstructed, your doctor may advise you to go under the knife to have it removed. They usually only operate on it if it is absolutely necessary or if the symptoms prove to be quite severe so in most cases, you will not have to worry about this. 

Now if you do end up going under the knife, there are two options: you can have it moved to somewhere else on the abdomen thereby allowing them to repair the hernia as best they can or they can leave it where it is & try to work around it as they try to repair it. In both options, they do use mesh to reinforce the structure but the good news is it should not take more than 2 days in the hospital to recover from it. The mesh also serves to keep it from coming back. 

Shopping and stoma fashion

If you are anything like myself shopping is not one of your top things to do.  I know for me that I am not a fan of shopping at all.  Every time I put on a piece of clothing that doesn’t work with me it makes me a little bit sad and pretty darn mad.  So when I found out a stoma and an ostomy bag were in my future I was really just depressed.  I hate shopping and I knew that I had no chance of ever learning how to look good or to hide my ostomy bag.  Well, that is why I am certainly happy that I am not the only one in this situation.  Lots of people hate shopping and on the other hand, there are insane amounts of people that love it.  So thank goodness for them!  Because I have learned so much from people who are willing to share how they conceal their ostomy bag and go about their daily life not letting people even guess that they have a stoma.  It is not because they are afraid to talk about it, but because they live normal lives. Normal lives don’t involve 14 conversations a day on your stoma.  Get it!  So learning how to look good and not stick out is just a life blessing.  So I want to go over how others helped me out and give some tips on how to learn these things that I would have never figured out.

Before I get into how I want to state that not all bodies are the same.  And a big part of fashion for stomas revolves around getting the best gear for your body.  Not all the people I found or talked to used the same things or brands.  They were pretty upfront about how different stoma location and even shapes make a difference and that we all need to find the best ostomy gear for us.  That is a key that goes through all the fashion and that is that you may need to find the right bag or seals that work for you while looking into concealing your ostomy bag.

My first task was to find people who knew more than myself.  It is 2020 after all so there was really not a problem with hopping online and learning what others has already learned long before me.  First I went through internet searches and forums and got a baseline for the basics of what people were doing and how they tried to live a normal life without people noticing they had a stoma. Then I decided to jump into the real world of fashion on social media.

The real answer for how to look is through seeing people live what they preach.  Instagram and Youtube are two platforms where you really can’t hide what you are doing except with photoshop.  So this was really the place that I tried to find people to follow and channels to subscribe to.  I found so many people from all aspects of life who were showing how they dressed and lived and giving tips.  The comments were actually positive and that is amazing for social media.  I ended up posting a lot and learning tons.  People were reaching out on how to help and I am not a bad looking person haha Give these tips a try and see how you feel.

I Got An Ostomy And Now I Smell All The Time

Have you ever thought about what happens when people get ostomies? Well, if you haven’t, then buckle up. Today I am going to be explaining to you what ostomies are and then tell you just how lucky you are that you don’t have to deal with this serious affliction every day for the rest of your pathetic little life. First off, you must know that I am speaking about ostomies because I myself have a stoma. So it’s okay for me to say these things because I am coming from a place of complete understanding. Basically, certain people need ostomies in order to survive the rest of their lives. When certain functions of the body stop working, an ostomy is a life saving surgery that allows the body’s waste to pass through a medically created stoma and into an ostomy pouch. This may not sound all that bad, but I dare you to Google a picture of a stoma and try not to cringe. It truly is an abomination of our medical advancements.

All joking aside, stomas are actually a great innovation in the medical world and have helped save countless lives. The problem is that many people don’t necessarily enjoy the lifestyle that comes with having to change an ostomy pouch day in and day out. My girlfriend is a nurse, and she has told me about specific times in the hospital where she has had to change out somebody’s ostomy pouch and clean out their stoma – boy did I want to disappear. I know a few people who have struggled with their own stomas because they are worried about their ostomy pouches leaking and then creating a really bad smell around them. I can tell you from personal experience that, if your ostomy pouch has a leaking issue, you will lose friends very quickly. I lost pretty much everyone in my social circle all at once because my ostomy pouch was smelling so badly, no one could even bear to hangout with me. I am trying to save you from this same fate, so please take my advice in the next few paragraphs of this article. 

If you do have a stoma and are worried about ostomy pouch leakage, the first thing you need to make sure of is that you have a proper seal on your skin barrier. The skin barrier, for those who don’t know, is in which the ostomy pouch seals onto the skin surrounding your stoma – if this seal is not made tightly or securely enough, there can be some gross smells that leak out and cause everyone around you to hate you. Luckily, there are specific products made for people with this issue that will hopefully help them get a better seal on their ostomy pouch. Certain products like powders, adhesives, and creams are made for people with stomas to help get a better seal on that thing.

Another reason that leakage may occur is because your ostomy pouch is getting too full on the regular. If this happens, you may be consuming too many foods that produce a lot of gas. Unlike the way most flatulence works, you can’t really control when the gas comes out if you have a stoma. Consequently, gas can fill up your ostomy pouch pretty quickly if you’re not careful.

Hunting with an Ostomy

One of the things that I really enjoy doing in life is being outdoors.  Now having an ostomy and living with a stoma for a time did hinder me from being very active.  I am pretty new to the ostomy world and have spent a good amount of time getting my body physically able to be able to be outdoors and active again.  This took a lot of back and forth between my ostomy nurse and Doctor.  I really think that relationship was key for me to be able to be active again and I suggest talking with your healthcare provider for your specific situation.  But this will be another hunting season for me and I want to say how surprised I am at how having an ostomy does not effect my choice to put meat on the table for my family.

So for the most part I am a deer hunter.  This is one area that recently got into in the last 5 years.  I spent some time in college with a good friend who always has specialty meats in his freezer.  He would eat duck one night, and steaks the next.  It baffled me how he was able to afford it back then.  It all hit me hard and came to make sense decades later to me.  He was a hunter.  On his college breaks he would go hunting instead of head down to the beach.  It allowed him to eat like a king and do it all for almost no cost.  About five years ago I started talking to him again and he gave me some great tips about deer hunting. I got so excited to go out and learn something new so I dived right in.

With an ostomy in mind he was worried about smells with the deer since they have 40 times our sense of smell.  He stated that smell was the most important part of hunting and playing the wind with deer is how you do it.  Well it turns out that after calling several ostomy companies up that scent blocking bags exist and they are made of the same stuff that super high end hunting gear is made of.  This was amazing because I doubled up on the bags and hunting gear and on my second outing I got my first deer.  It was an incredible time and to be honest super nasty, but it was an adventure.  The hardness of the weight of the deer made me happy I worked hard on getting my ab muscles back in shape and safe from any ostomy issues or hernias.  So I for the first time found out that one deer could fill my freezer for my family for a whole year.  We had all the burgers, steaks, and jerky we could really want.  Although the jerky ran out first my first year. 

So this changed my mind on being able to do anything with an ostomy.  Granted, I didn’t really go out and do insane things, but I hunted a lot more.  This year I talked with my friend again and I am going to do duck hunting for the first time.  It is really exciting and I cannot wait to have fancy duck dinners with my wife this year. So be active and don’t let your stoma hold you back!

Sand in your Stoma?

Going to the beach is certainly an amazing time for most people.  Even during the pandemic it didn’t stop millions of people from going to the beach to enjoy the outdoors.  I have to admit that even with a stoma I still love heading to the beach.  Sand and all it really is a wonderful time and there is literally so much to do.  I don’t want anyone to feel like just because they have a stoma that they shouldn’t go to the beach.  So I just want to go over my summer vacation and let you know that you can have a blast at the beach and don’t be afraid of sand in your stoma!

So my family likes to do a trip up to Lake Michigan once a year.  It is a different kind of fun because the water is not salt water.  I am not a fan of salt water and it really just burns everything.  So being able to enjoy the water without the fear of sharks or crazy sea life is a pretty awesome experience.  Once a year wifes extended family meets up and we spend a week just enjoying the slower pace of life.  We try to use less technology and simply spend time together having fun outside.  I think it is a wonderful time and we all are able to relax in our own way. 

Now since I have a stoma there are a few extra steps I have to take to ensure that all goes well.  For one I enjoy a stoma cap or a really small bag for the water.  I still wear a shirt just to avoid sunburn and to hide my tattoos from the younger more conservitive children.  But I make sure that my stoma is safe and one way to do it is to not be sunburned.  Getting a t-shirt that is UV rated is pretty important to me.  Most outdoor stores like Patagonia and Columbia have UV rated shirts and clothing and I like to use those when I am out on the beach.

Another important thing to me is to have backups.  Sometimes we spend a whole day on the beach away from civilization and I think having ostomy gear spares is important. You never know if you are going to fall off a jetski going 50 MPH on a wave and if it rips off your bag you may need to have a spare ready! This is why I double bag everything and make sure to keep it in a waterproof container.  I like otterbox, but there are so many good waterproof gear brands that the sky is the limit.  But make sure to keep some sanitary gear there too, because bacteria is everywhere on the beach. It is important to make sure nothing is going to get into your stoma and when things get hot, sticky, and sand is everywhere we tend to rush a bit.  So slow down take your time and make sure everything is safe.

Now my advice is to go outside and enjoy the beach.  Don’t be afraid of the what iffs and possibilities.  I think that you can be safe and happy at the beach and look good too. So just go out and make sure you are doing your best to be safe.

Tips For Living With A Colostomy

The final part of the digestive system consists of the colon, which is 4-6 feet in length. The primary job of this part of the digestive tract is to absorb water and electrolytes from the stool. It allows only the solid waste material to pass out through the rectum and anus.

Some diseases or injuries can cause the colon, rectum, or anus to stop functioning. In those cases, the surgeon will want to either remove or disconnect the colon’s diseased part from the healthy part. The end of the healthy part is brought through an incision in the abdominal wall to create a stoma, which is a point that allows the newly made diversion to evacuate bodily waste. The diseased part is either removed or left to heal. The stool passed out through the stoma is collected into an ostomy bag, which connects over the stoma. A colostomy can be permanent or temporary.

Impact of a colostomy on life

During your stay in the hospital after surgery, the nurse will educate you about how to take care of your colostomy. They will also give you some tips to adapt to life with a stoma. A change in lifestyle will be inevitable after colostomy surgery, but it doesn’t mean that this change will make you less active and healthy. All you have to do is to make sure that you are good at the management of your ostomy. You can also join a colostomy support group to get all the help that you need to stay motivated.

Here are a few tips that you may find helpful in your colostomy care regimen.

  • You will need to monitor any medication that you are taking. Make sure that those medications are not causing constipation or diarrhea.
  • You may have to say goodbye to the foods that cause gas. It includes cabbage, beans, and nuts. You can talk to a dietician to choose a diet that will help you avoid constipation, diarrhea, and gas.
  • You will need to stay active and healthy, and your colostomy is not going to stop you from that. The matter of fact is that modern-day colostomy care supplies conceal well under the clothes in such a way that nobody will be able to know about your ostomy. You can get back to work, engage in sports, and interact with your friends with full confidence.
  • You can even avoid using a colostomy bag if you want. For this purpose, you are going to have to note your schedule of bowel movements. When it is time, you can go to the toilet and pass an enema through the stoma. This enema will push water into the stoma and trigger bowel movement. This process is called colostomy irrigation. The stool will pass out from the stoma as a result of this procedure. After the completion of the process, you can cover the stoma with a stoma cap or a mini ostomy pouch.

Before resuming your normal activities after colostomy surgery, be sure to talk to your doctor or ostomy care nurse.

All About J Pouch Surgery 

A lot of people don’t know what a J pouch is.  If you have inflammatory bowel disease though, you’ve probably heard of this. It’s used to treat IBD, ulcerative colitis, and also is a good option when medication is not available to manage. 

What is This? 

It’s also known as ileal pouch anal anastomosis, which is a process that removes the colon without needing an ostomy. 

With this, the colon and rectum both get removed, and then the end of the small intestine is folded back and then sewn to create a pouch. It’s a reservoir for your stool until it gets excreted out and is then connected directly to the anus so that the stool is normally excreted. 

While this procedure offers an alternative, you also don’t need to worry about this creating the need for an ostomy, and usually you can get an ostomy, but it’s a temporary measure too. The surgery involves two steps usually, the first being where they remove the rectum and colon, making the J pouch, and then adding the temporary ileostomy to help with excreting the stool as well. This will be reused until you have the j pouch heal and it’s ready to be used as a functional part of yourself. 

After a few months, the surgeon will then reverse this, allowing the stool to pass, and is now able to be used as a means to get rid of excrement, and in this second procedure, it’s then installed directly as well. 

How to Adjust 

Usually, healing can be a bit strange after a j pouch surgery. You will notice that you have much more bowel movements as well, and they may happen more and more. While it may not seem as often as it may be compared to others, it can sometimes be a bit hard to get used to. 

There is also a risk for some kinds of side effects from this too. One of the most common is that issue called paucities, which is where it creates inflammation, fever, diarrhea, and less frequency of bowel movements as well. While it is treatable, you need to go to the hospital or doctor’s to get help for this, and it might require you to be hospitalized. 

Having a j pouch also means no colon, which was a big part of absorbing water. So you may have more water within your stool as well. There is also the fact that you’re more likely to be dehydrated, so you’ll need to add more fluid in order to have better hydration. 

This is an alternative though for those who don’t want to have an ostomy, and who are sick and need to have their colon taken out. It also can save your life too in a lot of cases. While this is good for some people, it is not the right option for everyone. But if you’re younger, and you feel like this may be the better option in order to ensure that you have the right kind of help that you may need, this is good for you. 

Depending on what type of disease it is, and where it may be, it may be best if you talk to your doctor to see if this is the right kind of treatment. While it may be good for some and not for others, there’s no denying that this is a lifesaving surgery that can change your whole life for the better forever, and it can be a good option if you need this as well for your life. 

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