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Choosing an Ostomy Bag

Choosing an Ostomy Bag
By 10 months ago 195 Views No comments

Ostomy Bags are often referred to as ostomy pouches or ostomy appliances. They come in three different types and with numerous options. The three types of ostomy bags are colostomy bags, ileostomy bags and urostomy bags. A colostomy is a surgically created opening into the colon through the abdomen. It allows stool to bypass a diseased or damaged part of the colon. An ileostomy is a surgically created opening into the small intestine through the abdomen. An ileostomy allows stool to bypass the lower intestines. A urostomy is a surgically created opening usually on the abdomen. After the bladder has surgically been removed, urostomies allow urine to flow out of the body.

This article will examine the criteria used for selecting an ostomy product to meet the most common needs of ostomy patients. When you have narrowed down the options to a few best choices, check out the FREE Ostomy Bag Samples available from several different manufacturers at the bottom of this article to test the products that best meet your needs!

Selecting the Right Ostomy Bag is not always quick and easy. New innovations and technology have combined to provide many new options. Choosing the right ostomy bag will depend heavily upon a number of different factors. Some of these factors include the type of ostomy, patient lifestyle, daily activities, personal preferences, skin condition, and budget. Below are some quick links to sections of this article that may be of immediate interest to you.

Most ostomy bags are designed for a specific stoma. Colostomy bags are designed to work with a colostomy stoma while ileostomy bags are designed for an ileostomy stoma. A colostomy bag is constructed to handle solid waste and usually can be irrigated or drained easily. An ileostomy bag is designed to collect stool and digestive enzymes. Urostomy bags are used to collect urine. Ostomy bags are available with flat skin barriers, convex wafers or for special fitting requirements, moldable skin barriers. There are multi-chambered ostomy bags and mini pouches that are more discreet and useful for sports and active lifestyles. Filtered ostomy bags are handy for bathing or swimming. Ostomy bags equipped with belt tabs attached to an ostomy belt help support the weight of the bag. Numerous options are available to help meet your specific needs.

One Piece vs. Two-Piece Ostomy Bags

There are several differences between a one-piece ostomy bag and a two-piece ostomy bag. The infographic below displays some of the key differences in these two types of ostomy bags. In order to wisely discern which bag is best for you, take a few moments to consider some of the advantages that accompany these two different types of ostomy bags.

ostomy bag comparison

One-Piece Ostomy Bags

A one-piece ostomy pouch provides a more discreet profile than a two-piece pouch. One-piece ostomy bags are often nearly invisible beneath clothing. For people who wear form-fitting clothes or who participate in sports, a one-piece ostomy pouch might be the ideal choice. In a one-piece system, the flange cannot be separated from the ostomy bag, resulting in a more secure user experience. However, a one-piece ostomy bag requires that the ostomy wafer and bag combination be changed at every bag change. Frequent ostomy appliance changes have the potential to cause skin irritation for some users. Furthermore, when you change the bag on a one-piece system, everything must be positioned around the stoma just right to prevent leaks. This positioning can be somewhat time-consuming. With a one-piece unit, you are likely to use more skin barrier pastes, tapes and adhesive removers than you would with a two-piece unit. The frequent use of these materials can add additional expenses to your budget. The ActiveLife One-Piece Drainable Cut-to-Fit Pouch with Stomadhesive Skin Barrier is a good example of a one-piece ostomy system.

Two-Piece Ostomy Bags

There are several advantages to investing in a two-piece ostomy system. With a two-piece ostomy bag, the skin barrier, often referred as a flange or wafer, can remain in place for two to four days. Less frequent skin battier changes is gentler on the skin. Frequent changes required by a one-piece system are often too much for sensitive skin. With a two-piece system, you can easily change the size of the bag you are using without removing the skin barrier. You can conveniently switch to a smaller bag for intimate moments or for swimming and effortlessly slip on a regular-sized bag for everyday activities. At night, a larger bag can be used. Ostomy bag changes with a two-piece system are much quicker and easier than a one-piece system, which is ideal for people who lead an active and engaging lifestyle. Some of the disadvantages of using a two-piece system include bulkier size, more prone to leaking, and slightly more expensive than one piece systems. Although more expensive, the two-piece system can be less expensive in the long-run if significant quantities of tape, adhesive removers, and barrier pastes are required for skin care and stoma sealing with the one-piece ostomy bag. An example of a popular two-piece ostomy bag is the Click MIDI Opaque Drainable Pouch.

Choose the ostomy bag that you not only feel comfortable with, but is well-adapted to your everyday lifestyle and activities. Many people find that it is convenient to have both types of ostomy bags on hand to suit different types of situations and activities. This strategy offers the most flexibility and adaptability.

Ostomy Bag




Ease of Use
Less Bulky
Lower Profile
Less Obtrusiveness
Easier to Secure
Quicker Application
More Adaptable to Uneven Skin
Less Accommodating to Special Needs
Frequent Changing = Sore Skin
Greater Frequency of Stoma Positioning


More Skin Friendly
Better Accommodations for Special Needs
Subject to Leaks
Flange Difficult to Keep Clean
More Rigid and Unflexible

Drainable or Closed-end Pouches

Drainable pouches are available in both one-piece and two-piece pouches. A drainable pouch allows users to empty the contents of the pouch and then reuse the pouch. Primarily, people with ileostomies or whose stool is semi-formed, drainable pouches are a better choice because they require fewer changes than closed-end pouches, are easy to empty and ideal for people with liquid or semi-solid waste output.

Closed-end Pouches, which are also available in one-piece or two-piece systems, are not reusable. Closed-end pouches are thrown away once the pouch is full. These closed-end ostomy bags and are ideal for formed, solid waste output. Many manufacturers make flushable pouch liners, which are ideal for people who lead a busy lifestyle and who do not have time to empty and clean a pouch. Closed designs are common for colostomy bag users. A colostomy bag is often attached to either an upper or lower area of the colon and depending on the location the consistency of the output will be different. For a closed colostomy bag, solid waste collection is usually preferred. That means there is no need to clean the colostomy bag, and it can simply be detached and thrown away.

Ostomy Bag




Extends Wear Time
Less Changing
Easy Removal of Heavy Liquids
Fewer Bag Expenditures
Easy to Empty Bag for Disposal
Best for Colostomy or Ileostomy

Difficulty Draining With Thicker Consistencies
Time Consuming and Painstaking Flange Cleaning
Fastening Bags Are Often Uncomfortable


Flushable Options for Easy Disposal
Better Accommodates Active Lifestyle
Best for Colostomy
Supports Swimming, Exercise, Intimacy
Replacement Bag Must Always Be On-hand
Not Practical for High Liquid Output
More Difficult Disposal When In Public
Difficulties When Draining Bag
Requires Replacing 1 to 3 Times Daily
Not Recommended for Urostomy

Pre-Cut or Cut-to-Fit Ostomy Bags

Fitting the skin barrier snugly around the stoma minimizes leaks and the risk of damaging skin. The more secure the ostomy pouch, the lower the risk of leaks. A pre-sized barrier is an opening in the flange that is already cut to the size of the stoma. Size options are listed for each ostomy pre-cut pouch to allow selection of the correct size barrier for your stoma. For stomas with a evenly round shape, a Pre-cut Ostomy Bag is the best choice. A cut-to-fit barrier is ideal if the stoma is still changing sizes or if the shape of the stoma is not round. A cut-to-fit barrier requires cutting the skin barrier before it is applied to the body. Some cut-to fit ostomy bags have a small starter hole in the center of the skin barrier where scissors can be placed to start cutting to the the right size. Below is a chart displaying the key advantages and disadvantages of Pre-Cut vs. Cut-to-fit Ostomy Bags.

Ostomy Bag




Easier to Apply
Less Time Requirements

May not Fit Adequately
Less Adaptability to Stoma Sizes/Shapes


Adaptation to Patient Needs
Increased Flexibility

More Cumbersome Application
More Time Consuming

Opaque or Transparent Ostomy Bags

Opaque ostomy pouches are more user friendly, offering more discreetness than transparent bags. Usually beige in color to more closely match skin color, opaque bags are designed to conceal the contents of the pouch. A transparent ostomy pouch allows you to see into the bag to view its contents. Transparent bags are caregiver friendly and are easier to check. Transparent pouches are most often used for wheelchair and hospital bed patients and offer less patient intrusion. Below is a brief comparison chart of these two types of ostomy bags.

Ostomy Bag




Helpful for Caregivers
Less Patient Intrusion
Easier to Check
Less Discreet


More Discreet More Difficult to Check

Flat or Convex Ostomy Bags

The majority of ostomy pouch flanges are flat, but many ostomy patients prefer or require a convex flange. Flat Ostomy Bags have a flat adhesive back, allowing the bag to be in position with little protrusion. Flat appliances offer more discreetness. Convex Ostomy Bags have a back which protrudes out giving the flange a stepped side-profile appearance. Convex ostomy bags are available in both two piece and one piece products.

Convex bags come in fixed and non-fixed options. A fixed convex pouch is designed, strengthened and molded into a stepped shape. Fixed convex flanges are less flexible than traditional flat flanges. The Non-Fixed range of convexity products are usually based around plastic rings which clip into existing traditional flat/non-convex product ranges to give them a shallow convex step. Non-fixed convex products are considered more gentle, softer and flexible, allowing more flex with your body. There are also three different levels of curvature for convex bags--shallow, moderate and deep. The combination of these options give ostomy patients more choices, and flexibility, over which convex product would be best. Convex pouches offer added security and skin protection for recessed, retracted and flush stomas. Below is a chart comparing the advantages of convex and flat ostomy bags.

Ostomy Bag




Accommodates Flush Stoma
Accommodates Retracted Stoma
Accommodates Less Than 1/2 Inch Protruding Stoma
Accommodates Skin Wrinkles
Accommodates Creases
Accommodates Surgical Scars
Accommodates Telescoping Stoma
Pre-cut or Moldable Options
Longer-Lasting Seal

Increased Profile
Less Discreet


More Discreet
Fits Stomas that Protrude More Than 1/2 Inch

Requires a Protruding Stoma of at Least 1/2 Inch

Filtered Ostomy Bags

Ostomy bags with filters allow the the bag to vent while filtering the gas to remove any odor. Gas and odor are often associated with stomas. An ostomy filter is usually made of charcoal with microscopic holes and membranes. Ostomy bags that incorporate an integrated filter allow patients to bathe, swim or participate in athletics with a much lower risk of leaks. Performance of these filters varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so you may want to try a number of different manufacturers to see which one works best for you.

Ostomy Bag



Filtered Ostomy Bag

Reduces or Removes Odors
Provides for Bathing
Supports Swimming
Supports Water Sports

Increased Expense

Multi-Chambered Ostomy Bags

Multi-chambered ostomy bags reduce the amount of sloshing within the bag to reduce noise and provide a more discreet wear. These chambered ostomy pouches are a favorite for ostomy patients that are very active and participate in sports and athletic events.

Ostomy Bag




Decreases Sloshing
Less Noise
Higher Expense

Mini Ostomy Bags

Mini ostomy bags have a smaller capacity but offer more discreetness. Their smaller size is less detectable and more comfortable to wear. Smaller also means less weight, but also less capacity.

Ostomy Bag




Smaller Size
Less Intrusive
More Discreet
Supports Active Lifestyle
Less Capacity

Moldable Ostomy Bags

Ostomy bags with moldable flanges are an innovation of Convatec. A moldable skin barrier not only allows a snug fit around an irregular shaped stoma, but also helps reduce the risk of leaks. Below is a video from Convatec that demonstrates the advantages of a moldable ostomy appliance. Following the video is a chart that summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of a moldable ostomy pouch.

Convatec Moldable Ostomy Video (2:00 minutes)

Ostomy Bag




Accommodates Any Stoma Size/Shape
Personalized Fit
No Cutting with Scissors

Higher Cost

Ostomy Belts

An ostomy belt is designed to support the weight of the pouch and to fix ostomy appliances in place. They also help to conceal the ostomy appliance and protect the appliance from being jarred loose from incidental contact with the world around you. Ostomy belts keep your pouch in place to prevent leaks.

Ostomy Appliances



Ostomy Belts

Supports the Weight of the Bag
Supports the Waste Weight
Helps Keep Ostomy Pouches In Place
Conceals Ostomy Appliance

Belt May Dislodge
Possible Pinching
Possible Ulceration

Vitality Medical provides a list of manufactures that offer specific ostomy bag options that may be of importance to you. This Ostomy Bag Options List displays alternatives like multi-chambered ostomy bags, filtered ostomy bags and moldable skin barrier bags along-side the manufacturers that make them. The Best Ostomy Bags listed by highest sales volume can also be examined.

For new ostomy patients, it can be a challenge to find an ostomy appliance that has a special feature that your are looking for. Below is a chart of special ostomy features matched to manufactures and brands to help you begin your search.

Ostomy Bag Options Matched To Brands

Ostomy Bag Options

Multi-Chambered Bag Coloplast Sensura Multi-Chamber
Mini Pouch/Bag
Hollister Lock n Roll Mini
Hollister Closed Mini Pouch with Filter
Hollister Premier Mini
Hollister CenterPointLock Mini
Coloplast Assura New Generation Mini
ConvaTec Esteem Synergy Mini
Convex Base Plate
Coloplast Assura Convex
ConvaTec ActiveLife Convex
Genairex Securi-T Convex
Filtered Ostomy Bags
ConvaTec Esteem Synergy
Coloplast SenSura Click
Genairex SecuriT
Moldable Skin Barrier
ConvaTec Moldable Stomahesive
ConvaTec Esteem Synergy
Convatec Sur-Fit Moldable Durahesive
Ostomy Belts and Belt Tabs
NuHope Nu-Support Ostomy Belt
Tytex StomaSage Ostomy Belt
Coloplast Brava Belt SenSura Mio
ConvaTec Ostomy Appliance Belt
Hollister Ostomy Belt

What is the Best Ostomy Bag?

Ostomy bags are constantly changing with new technology and new designs. Construction materials and features for ostomy appliances are always improving. To determine which ostomy appliances are the best, we examined consumer voting. Consumers vote by their purchases. Consumers tend to purchase the best product that offers the most value for their money. The chart below displays the best selling ostomy appliances by category.

Best Ostomy Bags List

Ostomy Bag Type

Top Selling Ostomy Bags
One-Piece Ostomy Bags
Coloplast Assura
ConvaTec ActiveLife
Hollister Premier
Two-Piece Ostomy Bags
Hollister New Image
Coloplast Assura Maxi
Hollister CenterPointLock Urostomy
Drainable Bags
ConvaTec ActiveLife
Coloplast SenSura
Hollister Karaya
ConvaTec Sur-Fit
Closed Bags
Hollister New Image
Hollister Premier
ConvaTec Sur-Fit
Moldable Skin Barrier
ConvaTec Sur-Fit Natura Durahesive
ConvaTec Esteem Synergy
Ostomy Belts and Belt Tabs
Hollister Premier Pouch with Belt Tabs
Hollister Karaya 5 with Belt Tabs
Hollister Ostomy Belt
Tytex StomaSafe Ostomy Belt
Coloplast Brava Ostomy Belt
Filtered Bags
Coloplast SenSura
ConvaTec Sur-Fit
Hollister New Image
Convex Ostomy Bags
Coloplast Assura
Hollister New Image

Free Samples of Ostomy Bags and Supplies

Ostomy Medical Studies

Posted in: Ostomy Supplies