The Ostomy Files: Getting the Right Body Fit

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Laura Herbe, BSN, RN, CWOCN

  Living with an ostomy is a personal journey. It is a life-changing experience that touches individuals both physically and psychologically.

  More than 120,000 people of all ages in the United States undergo ostomy surgery every year. Because bodily function and emotional well-being are affected, the person with an ostomy may have a number of concerns, including leakage, sexual problems, fear of odor and alterations in body appearance, and changes in mood and sleep patterns. A market research study1 confirmed that approximately 80% of all people with a stoma have either one or more of these concerns; anxiety about such complications could result in lifestyle and quality-of-life changes.2

  The role of ostomy care providers is to help patients return to some level of normalcy and self-control. A secure fit between the ostomy pouching system and the body is a critical ingredient to developing the patient’s new normal; failed attempts are not only disheartening, but also may lead to leakage, odor, peristomal skin irritation, and frequent or unplanned pouch changes, negatively affecting quality of life and potentially increasing costs.

  Approximately 60% of all people who have an ostomy have described problems with leakage.1 Why is leakage so prevalent? Available reports vary, but among the estimated million plus people in the US with a stoma, no two individuals have the same body shape and size, especially after abdominal surgery. To avoid leakage and increase pouch security, the ostomy appliance and accessories need to fit optimally to each body shape. Additional obstacles include stoma placement in skin folds or creases on or near previous or new scars, bony prominences, and around irregularities of abdominal contours such as hernias. Obtaining an optimal fit is the ultimate goal, but how does an ostomy appliance provide a secure fit for so many individual body shapes?

  My friend who has a colostomy stated it best: “I need a barrier that doesn’t tug on my skin and pull away from me when I move. Of course, I want to feel secure and confident with my pouch, but I also need it to move with me.”

  An adhesive barrier designed with thought to individual bodies, one that is pliable to individual contours and responsive to natural body movements, is the ideal solution for an age-old problem. With the collaboration of nurses from around the world and extensive scientific research, an elastic adhesive, new to the ostomy care industry, has been developed. A new adhesive utilizes “BodyFit Technology” and makes the adhesive barrier elastic and stretchable. It can deform and return to its original shape and be used in a way similar to silicone, conforming to the unique body shapes of persons with an ostomy. BodyFit Technology combines elasticity with the classic benefits of skin friendliness, erosion resistance, and absorption. This combination provides a secure fit, thus preventing leakage.

  As technologies evolve and advance and options proliferate, both in surgical techniques and ostomy supplies, clinicians should be open to new ways to improve ostomy management and, most importantly, the quality of life for those living with an ostomy.

 Laura Herbe is a Clinical Consultant with Coloplast Corp, Minneapolis, MN. The Ostomy Files is made possible through the support of Coloplast Corp, Minneapolis, MN (www.us.coloplast.com). The opinions and statements of the clinicians providing The Ostomy Files are specific to the respective authors and are not necessarily those of Coloplast, OWM, or HMP Communications.

This article was not subject to the Ostomy Wound Management peer-review process.

References: 

1. Ehmsen L. (2011) IMS Study – Coloplast Market Research. Data on file.

2. Stoia Davis J, Svavarsdóttir MH, Pudło M, et al. Factors impairing quality of life for people with an ostomy. Gastrointestinal Nurs. 2011;9:(2 suppl):14–18.