What is a stoma?

    A stoma is an artificial opening in the abdominal wall for urine or stool so you can empty your bowels or urinary tract. It provides a solution when the natural outlet no longer works. A stoma can be either permanent or temporary in nature.

    There are 3 types of ostomy:

    • a urinary stoma (artificial outlet for urine)
    • a colostoma (artificial exit from the large intestine)
    • an ileostoma (artificial exit from the small intestine)
    Photo credits: Bellawear


    Of all ostomy wearers, only 13 percent experience no problems at all when choosing clothes. Six in ten can no longer wear the clothes they would actually like, according to recent research by the Stoma Association in the Netherlands.

    An ostomy pouch that is somewhat stuck by tightening clothes can prevent stools from flowing properly, posing a risk of leaks. A well-filled ostomy bag can then mark off again in clothing.

    Clothing tips

    Below, we are happy to share some interesting clothing tips for ostomy wearers that can boost your self-confidence without compromising on comfort.

    1. Choose the right support underwear

    With a stoma, the right support underwear is a must. Not only because it works preventively to avoid an ostomy rupture (or to support an existing rupture), but it also makes your ostomy pouch less visible under your clothes! The support keeps the pouch sitting nicely against your body. Your stool flow/urine is evenly distributed, so there is no 'bulge' at the bottom of your pouch.

    There are 3 types of support underwear:

    • Level 1 is designed to replace everyday underwear. You notice a slight pressure in the abdominal area compared to regular, non - supportive underwear. Because the underwear is so comfortable, you won't notice you are wearing it after half an hour. Level 1 is recommended for anyone who wants some extra support after surgery, when wearing a stoma or as figure-correcting underwear. Comfortable both day and night. Wear level 1 also preventively to avoid ostomy rupture.
    • Level 2 can be worn every day, all day long and can therefore also replace your daily underwear. It is firmer and gives more support than Level 1 but remains comfortable to wear. The support section in the abdominal area is double-lined, giving extra support. This is needed to support an ostomy fracture (parastomal hernia) or to provide extra support during heavier activities such as heavier work or sports. Be sure to wear Level 2 preventively to avoid an ostomy fracture too!
    • Level 3 provides firm support in the form of a strap (belt) that ensures pressure is evenly distributed. This level of support is designed to be worn for shorter periods because it is much firmer than Levels 1 and 2. Level 3 is recommended as support for larger ostomy fractures, as protection when repairing an ostomy fracture and essential as support during strenuous exercise or activities.
    level 3 stoma steunverband
    Level 3 support underwear for ostomy users. Photo credits: Bellawear

    For more info on support underwear for ostomy wearers, be sure to check out Bellawear, a webshop founded by Kelly who has a stoma as well.

    2. Choose the right shape

    By choosing the right shape or cut, you can greatly increase comfort. Moreover, the right clothes will help you feel confident if the clothes hide the stoma sufficiently.

    • High-waisted trousers that are narrow at the waist and flared wide not only have a slimming effect, but also hide the ostomy pouch well.
    • Choose trousers that sit just very high or very low, so that the edge sits just above or below the stoma. High-waisted trousers actually offer a bit of a protective layer over the ostomy pouch.

    Another tip: when trying on clothes, sit down for a while. Then you will immediately notice whether the clothing fits well around your stoma even then. Check that the contours of the pouch are not too visible and that the waistband is not too tight.

    3. Camouflage

    Provide distractions and camouflage your ostomy bag by following these tips:

    • A printed blouse or shirt can disguise your ostomy pouch. The patterns will make irregularities on your stomach less noticeable. Be careful though: some patterns such as lines or balls can accentuate irregularities
    • Ruffles can hide all kinds of imperfections, especially if they are on the same side as your ostomy.
    • Draw attention upwards. Wear trendy sunglasses or a hat.
    • You can also disguise a lot with a scarf or a shoulder bag. Not only does it help to hide a bulging ostomy bag, it also makes an unexpected leak less noticeable.
    • Choose dark colours and colourful prints as they camouflage better than light, plain fabrics.
    • Men can hide the ostomy bag by wearing a shirt with a slightly loose fit. Or with a nice shirt worn open with a shirt underneath.
    • Wear your blouse at the front a bit inside your trousers or completely as in the picture below. This will cause your blouse to 'bulge' a little more where your stoma is. This way you really don't see anything!
    broek op elastiek voor stomadragers
    A loose blouse that you casually tuck into trousers on elastic: comfort first and the perfect camouflage for an ostomy bag

    4. Choose the right fabrics

    Firm but stretchy fabrics are ideal for people with a stoma. There are many stretch fabrics, even jeans, that stretch comfortably with you. Anyway, trousers with an elastic waist are the most comfortable to wear. Do you like to wear suits as a man? There are also nice suit trousers with an elastic waistband.

    broek op elastiek voor mannen met een stoma
    Trousers with elasticated waist from So Yes

    Choose a fabric that breathes sufficiently. Preferably go for natural materials, such as cotton or wool. The clothes should be washable in case of possible leakage.

    And what about swimming?

    Special swimwear is available. Custom-made and with handy pockets for your ostomy bag.

    Men with a stoma are often helped by a larger model swimming trunks or even a men's swimming costume (similar to the one worn in triathlons)

    For women, tankinis are ideal and trendy. Convenient, because that way you don't see anything of your stoma. And models with pleats or ruffles are even more ideal, as they create an even slimmer effect. An ideal combination to feel confident when you go swimming.

    For more information on adapted underwear and swimwear for ostomy wearers, please contact Kelly at Bellawear.

    If you would like more info on adapted clothing, don't hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to give you more advice!

    Sofie & Jessie

    Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know about our latest collections, discounts and news.