It’s time to tackle the stoma bag ‘poo taboo’ – here’s how a new brand has launched an innovative range of ostomy products to help reduce the stigma
The incredible work of Deborah James, lovingly known as BowelBabe was phenomenal in raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer and tackling the poo taboo debate.
Bowel cancer is the fourth biggest killer in the UK and early detection of the disease can be life-saving.
Talking about poo is definitely on trend right now, there’s been a huge shift to not shy away from the topic and there’s even a new TV show airing on C4 called ‘Know Your Shit’ with its very own Poo HQ.
It’s important to notice any bowel changes – if you experience anything different from what is normal for you, lasting longer than one to two weeks, it is definitely worth seeking help. There are a whole host of reasons why the conversation of ‘poo’ needs to be explored and changes in bowel habits are not just related to cancer.
one in 335 people in the UK are currently living with a stoma bag
Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and Diverticulitis can affect people of all ages causing changes in poo habits and often, a host of challenging symptoms.
In some cases, these conditions can require surgery, resulting in a stoma bag either permanently or temporarily. Certain cancers such as vaginal and cervical cancer can also result in needing a stoma if the cancer has spread to surrounding tissue.
It is now estimated that one in 335 people in the UK are currently living with a stoma bag and surprisingly there is still a lack of information and conversation around stomas and the terminology.
READ MORE: Common symptoms of an unhealthy gut – plus what can help
Colostomy Bag vs Ileostomy Bag
It is important to know the difference between a colostomy bag and an ileostomy bag and although they sound similar, they are very different. To add even more confusion to the mix, there are actually different types of stomas depending on where the stoma is surgically positioned on the abdomen.
A colostomy is a surgery in which an opening is made from the colon out through the abdomen. This hole is known as a stoma. The stoma allows stools/poo to pass out through the abdomen instead of passing through the bowels and rectum. As a result, the patient wears a colostomy bag to protect their stoma and collect their faecal output.
A bag is placed over the stoma to collect waste products that usually pass through the colon
Temporary colostomies may be in place anywhere from weeks to years, depending on the problem and how your body heals.
An ileostomy is where the small bowel (small intestine) is diverted through an opening in the tummy (abdomen). The opening is also known as a stoma. A bag is placed over the stoma to collect waste products that usually pass through the colon (large intestine) and out of the body through the rectum and back passage (anus).
Ileostomies can be performed for a number of reasons and they can also be temporary, as they can be performed to help reduce inflammation in the colon which can be needed with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.
There are 2 types of ileostomies:
Loop ileostomy – where a loop of small intestine is pulled out through a cut (incision) in your abdomen, before being opened up and stitched to the skin to form a stoma.
End ileostomy – where the ileum is separated from the colon and is brought out through the abdomen to form a stoma.
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Reducing the stigma
Despite improved surgical care and technological advancements, postoperative complications are vast, expensive and debilitating.
Psychologically, many find lack of bowel control difficult, suffering loss of dignity and confidence. It is estimated that over 25 per cent of ostomates suffer from anxiety, depression and even suicidal inclinations.
Many find the lack of product choice frustrating and stigmatising. Peristomal skin complications (skin around the stoma) including skin irritation and soreness, are the most common skin complications affecting +60 per cent of ostomates.
Having a stoma can happen from any age, it’s not just a condition that affects people in later life
The frequency and severity of skin complications alongside the fear of product leakage significantly impairs patients mental and physical health and subsequently, their quality of life.
Having a stoma can happen from any age, it’s not just a condition that affects people in later life. Living with an ostomy can be a daunting prospect for adults, let alone children and young people.
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Ostique – the innovative ostomy bag designed to improve comfort and quality of life
Stephanie Monty, Founder and CEO of Ostique Ltd, and also a Product Design Engineer, set up her own company to create a range of ostomy products that address the issues patients face with those currently on the market.
Inspired by her two brothers who both suffer from Crohn’s disease, she witnessed first-hand the devastating consequences of bowel disease.
Ostique’s first product is an innovative range of ostomy bag covers, which combine attractive aesthetics with ground-breaking material technology, designed to improve comfort, quality of life, optimise patient outcomes, and promote positive body image.
Stephanie says, ‘Many ostomates feel a lack in body confidence, or anxiety around having a stoma, especially in certain key moments such as during intimacy, when working out or being active, or when laying on a beach in the sunshine. Whereas others are body proud and want to celebrate their strength and resilience with ostomy products that express who they are and their style’.
Many ostomates feel a lack in body confidence, or anxiety around having a stoma
Combining technical innovation with empowering aesthetics, and created to work alongside any bag. Ostique.Sk.ns are made from a revolutionary material that is waterproof, environmentally friendly, vegan and delivers unparalleled comfort.
The exceptional material quality is matched with expert design. The curved edges ensure no scratching and the soft material bends with the user’s movements without increasing the profile of their pouch. Plus, they were designed for all ages and stages, so even those with reduced dexterity can easily apply and remove them.
Mike Farrar, ex CEO NHS Confederation, says: ‘Ostique have developed a new approach to stoma care products, service and experience. It has enormous potential to support patients needing stoma care by offering them higher quality appliances designed to offer more convenience and usability’.
Ostique are launching with four different Sk.ns bundles to begin (Intimacy, Workout, Essentials, Introductory). The range will quickly expand, and customisation will soon be available.
Each bundle contains three Sk.ns and retails at £43.99 RRP, Plus P&P. Individual Sk.ns are also available to purchase and retail at £16.99 RRP, Plus P&P. All Sk.ns are available from the Ostique website: www.ostique.co.uk
‘I love my stoma life. It is bold, it is bright’
Suzanne Dore – aged 49 from Braintree, Essex
In October 2009 my, at the time, 13-year-old son, Sam, was diagnosed with stage 3 Nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
It’s an incredibly rare cancer in the cavity behind your nose and throat. The shock of his diagnosis was indescribable. The fear and the agony of what the future held was incredibly traumatic.
It was during those day and nights on the ward that the bowel issues I’d suffered from since I was 18 really made themselves felt. I thought they had worsened due to the stress.
When Sam finished his inpatient stays at the hospital and his treatment was able to be administered at home, I decided to go and get my, what I thought was piles, treated.
It was at that appointment, that February evening that the surgeon decided to be thorough and did a sigmoidoscopy.
I felt more comfortable, more confident and in a weird way I felt whole, like the final piece of the puzzle was in place
He said, ‘Mrs. Dore you have a tumour and it is my belief it is cancer’. I sat there in shock, in utter disbelief that the nightmare of cancer could be hitting us again.
Anyway, we got the full diagnosis and treatment plan, and I got incredibly lucky. Because the type of cancer I had was unusual in a young body, it was a slower growing, older person cancer. Which meant that rather than the death sentence I had feared, it was treatable.
I had chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, an AP resection (permanent colostomy and removal of anus and rectum) and an oophorectomy.
I was so scared and traumatised about having to have a stoma that I went into the operation with tears streaming down my face. I was quite poorly in the op (but luckily I was asleep for all the drama. I do feel for the team working on me. I am so grateful to them).
When I came round from the surgery, I looked down at the newly formed stoma (they put a clear bag on to start with) and I felt a rush of emotion. I felt safe, I felt confident. And I just looked at it and said ‘oh, is that it?’…and I never looked back.
I love my stoma life. It is bold, it is bright. It is so much better than it was during the long and painful misdiagnosed years. It may sound weird, but it’s given me my life as well as saving my life.
Before Ostique Sk.ns I hadn’t ever covered my stoma bag whilst in a bikini. I felt naturally very confident and content. Then Sk.ns came along and I loved their reason for being, I loved that people were trying to improve the lives of stoma bag users.
I gave the Sk.ns a go on my recent holiday and I absolutely loved them! Even me, someone that hadn’t used a bag cover before – I felt more comfortable, more confident and in a weird way I felt whole, like the final piece of the puzzle was in place.
Without knowing or realising, I must have had a little chink of vulnerability prior to using Sk.ns. With them I felt covered, or rather my bag was covered. I felt confident and I felt complete.
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