Dressing with an Ostomy: A Clothing Guide for Men (with video)

Men's guide to dressing with an ostomy
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While there are many clothing options for women who have an ostomy, it’s not so easy for men. Surprisingly, I haven’t found many resources which deal with men’s clothing challenges, so I’m hoping this post helps you guys out.

Attention Ladies: I’ve published a guide for dressing with an ostomy that I think you’ll love! Click on HERE to see it. XOXO Eric

Video Guide

http://youtu.be/dZkP5koouQs

Depending on your weight, and whether you have any other challenges, like a peristomal hernia, you may need to modify these suggestions a bit. These tips should be applicable to other ileostomates and colostomates, but urostomates and people with a high-output stoma may need to empty their pouch more often to feel comfortable.

Useful Options

Before I break down some scenarios, here are a few options that we have available to us, which can help to accommodate various stoma positions. Where your stoma is located will have a big impact on how you wear clothes. I’ve reviewed several of these items HERE.

Stoma Guards

Stoma guards can be extremely useful if your stoma is at, or above your belt line. They offer protection from impact, seat belts or pant belts, and they’ll often allow you to wear your pouch inside your pants with your shirt tucked in.

Depending on the style of your stoma guard, output is usually not restricted, however, pouch capacity is usually reduced.

StomaShield guard with jeans
StomaShield guard with jeans

Support Bands

One of my favorite accessories are support bands, which allow you to wear your pouch horizontally. There are other styles available, but this article will focus on using the horizontal version of this product since it’s the most unique. I’ve reviewed the popular Stealth Belt Pro HERE.

Stealth Belt Front
The Stealth Belt Pro allows you to wear your pouch horizontally.

Here’s an example of how I’d wear my support belt (with my bag sideways) under clothing:

Ostomy Support Wraps / Maternity Bands

These can range from basic maternity wraps to more specialty wraps made for ostomates. They allow for the concealment of your appliance, and offer some support, too.

Wraps designed for ostomates usually have pockets which you can fit your pouch into. This helps to keep the bottom of the pouch from hanging below the bottom of the wrap.

Ostomysecrets classic wrap
The Ostomysecrets classic wrap has two internal pockets to keep your pouch secure.
An inexpensive, basic maternity wrap can help keep things secure and concealed.
An inexpensive, basic maternity wrap can help keep things secure and (somewhat) concealed.

Pouch Covers

Typically made to hide the contents of your pouch (if you’re using a transparent pouch), these don’t offer protection from impact, and usually add a bit of bulk to your appliance, but there are many kick-ass patterns, styles, and materials available.

Frontal view pouch cover grey
Pouch cover from Pretty Little Curls
Grandmas Hands Camo Ostomy Pouch Cover
Camo cover with the bottom folded in.

A more recent take on pouch covers comes in the form of a very cool product called the Ostomy Amigo.

It works like a cross between a support band and pouch cover, but also contains a special pocket for extras and looks like a fashion accessory!  You can check out my full review of it HERE.

ostomy-amigo-revealed
The Ostomy Amigo looks like a fashion accessory!

High-Waisted Pants (Trousers)/Undergarments

There are high-waisted products which are designed specifically for ostomates, but you can also find high-waisted products in most clothing stores or online. These are intended to keep your pouch below the belt line without the need for any other accessories. They sometimes offer security (if they include a “pouch pocket”), but don’t protect your stoma from impact.

High Waisted Trousers for ostomates by White Rose Collection
High Waisted Trousers for ostomates by White Rose Collection

Underwear designed for male ostomates are nearly always high waisted and the ones below feature a hidden pocket to help support your appliance.

Mens Classic Briefs from Ostomysecrets.com
Men’s Classic Briefs from Ostomysecrets.com

Seat Belt Covers

Used when riding in a vehicle that has seatbelts, these special covers protect your stoma from the belt. These are only required if your seat belt comes directly over your stoma. If you’re using a stoma guard, a seat belt cover isn’t necessary. I’ve reviewed the Comfee Drive product by Weir Comfees HERE.

Comfee Drive product shot
Comfee Drive Seat Belt cover.

Clothing Examples

Now, onto some specific examples of basic styles that most men will wear at some point in their lives. I’m a pretty simple guy, but many of these examples will apply to other clothing styles as well.

Casual

Dressing casual is one of the easiest ways to dress with an ostomy. Since casual clothing often goes with untucked shirts and loose-fitting clothes, there’s less of a need to worry about concealing or protecting your appliance.

If I’m at home, I’ll leave my pouch over my pants (trousers), and let me shirt cover it. I may wear a pouch cover if I’m using a transparent pouch since nobody appreciates seeing the contents of my pouch (although, I find it quite entertaining to see my stoma work!).

When going out, I’ll put on a wrap, and that tends to do the trick. The stealth belt will also come in handy, but it’s a matter of preference.

Ostomysecrets Classic Wrap
Ostomysecrets Classic Wrap
Wearing the Ostomysecrets Classic wrap under that shirt.
Wearing the Ostomysecrets Classic wrap under that shirt.
The Stealth Belt with casual clothing can keep things very secure and hidden.
The Stealth Belt with casual clothing can keep things very secure and hidden.

I don’t tend to wear stoma guards when I’m at home in casual clothes, but they work quite well for going out. They don’t offer a low profile like wraps do, so they tend to stick out a bit. The StomaShield works well with jeans.

The StomaShield is a great option when wearing jeans.
The StomaShield is a great option when wearing jeans.
The StomaShield under clothing is well hidden.
The StomaShield under clothing is well hidden.
Dora the Explorer
Don’t let an ostomy stop you from exploring the world! I’ve got a stoma guard keeping my pouch tucked in under my pants.

Jeans shouldn’t be tight, and I’d highly recommend getting a pair that has some stretch to the denim, especially if you plan on putting your pouch in your pants. If you don’t like jeans or want to get even more casual, sweatpants and track pants are other options, and they tend to have elastic waists which accommodate most stoma placements.

Semi-Casual / Semi-Formal

While semi-casual can mean leaving your shirt untucked, things begin to get tricky when you want to tuck in your shirt. Because stoma placement differs from person to person, some of these tips may need to be adjusted.

For me, I can only get away with a shirt tucked in if I’m wearing a stoma guard or the Stealth Belt Pro (with my pouch horizontally). My stoma is above my belt line, so having my pouch under my belt is far too restrictive and cuts off the flow of my output. Certain stoma guards correct this problem by channeling output to flow down to the bottom of your pouch, without being cut off by your belt.

I've got the StomaShield under this dressy attire.
I’ve got the StomaShield under this dressy attire.

The Stealth Belt Pro works by keeping my pouch above the belt line, so clothes can be tucked in easily. This does come with one drawback: because of the horizontal placement, you need a pouch that can rotate or you need to adhere the pouch horizontally when you do an appliance change. I discuss these points in my review of the Stealth Belt Pro.

The Stealth Belt Pro with a shirt tucked in
The Stealth Belt Pro with a shirt tucked in

For ostomates who have their stoma below the belt line, there shouldn’t be many problems with tucking your shirt in and keeping your pouch under your pants.

An alternative to belts, which many male ostomates find useful, are suspenders. I don’t own a pair of suspenders, but I’ve seen them in action when worn with an ostomy pouch. If you go for this option, be sure that your pants waist is large enough to accommodate the pouch; too tight and you’ll defeat the purpose of using suspenders.

You can find suspenders in many department stores, stores specializing in suits, or even online.

suspenders from hold up suspender co
Screenshot taken from http://www.suspenders.com/

Sweaters can work great for semi-casual dress as they tend to offer quite a bit of concealment.

Formal

Like semi-casual with a shirt tucked in, you’re going to want to apply the same methods when wearing formal clothing. That means using a stoma guard, the Stealth Belt or suspenders when necessary.

For pants (or trousers, as my friends in the UK like to call them), some ostomates might find high-waisted options or even elastic waist bands to be the most comfortable. As mentioned in the previous section, if your stoma falls below the belt line (which it should with these high-waisted pants), you won’t need any additional accessories to comfortably tuck your ostomy appliance under your pants.

If your stoma is below the belt line, you usually don't need extra accessories. Warm Handle High Rise Formal Trouser by Chums.co.uk
If your stoma is below the belt line, you usually don’t need extra accessories. This is the Warm Handle High Rise Formal Trouser by Chums.co.uk

Don’t be discouraged when it comes to suits! An advantage of wearing a suit is that the suit jacket also provides concealment of your appliance; if you wear a vest, it’ll come in handy too.

Tip: when being fitted for a new suit, make sure the tailor understands your needs so they can accommodate your ostomy. They may be able to add elastic to the waist, or provide a means to expand the waist size slightly when needed.

Sleepwear

This is another easy one, for me at least. I either sleep in shorts or underwear with my pouch left out. You can also go naked if that’s how you like to sleep (nothing wrong with that!). In the winter, my shorts are replaced with pajama pants.

High-waisted shorts are great for sleeping in
High-waisted shorts are great for sleeping in

While there’s no harm in wearing a wrap or stoma guard to bed, it’s really only doable of your pouch doesn’t fill too much overnight. If you have a tendency to wake up to a very full or ballooned pouch, these accessories will be uncomfortable.

If your partner is put off by the sight of your dangling pouch, wearing a t-shirt or loose-fitting wrap should help keep things out of sight. And for Pete’s sake, don’t expose your transparent pouch to unwilling bystanders! Your partner might put up with a lot of your crap, but they don’t have to see it too!

Intimacy

For most men, there’s a lot of concern over whether their ostomy will negatively impact their sex life. It shouldn’t, and there are several ways of dealing with body image post-op.

I have a full guide on sex and intimacy with an ostomy HERE.

I find that ostomy wraps or the Stealth Belt Pro to be the most ideal when having sex. They provide concealment and support, without restricting your range of motion. Regular maternity bands, or wraps without a pouch pocket, can cause your pouch to be exposed on the bottom of the wrap, so this style of wrap will likely be inconvenient during sex, but folding the bottom part will help (see photo below).

If you’re wearing a longer pouch, it’ll probably get in the way of things, so fold it in half before putting on the wrap. This isn’t an issue with the Stealth Belt Pro, as your pouch is horizontal and kept well out of the way.

Always empty your pouch before getting hot and heavy with your lover, so you won’t be distracted or have to empty midway through a passionate love-making session.

With a folded pouch and a basic maternity band, there should be no problem with having sex.
With a folded pouch and a basic maternity band, there should be no problem with having sex.
Stealth Belt intimacy
The Stealth Belt Pro works well for sexy time.
The Ostomysecrets Classic wrap can be folded in to be more compact.
The Ostomysecrets Classic wrap can be folded in to be more compact.

Sex Tip: Use whatever accessory or method you feel is appropriate for your situation! Don’t let the thought of having to put on an accessory make you lazy when it comes to sex (it’ll hurt your relationship in the long-run). And if the mood hits you and your partner when you don’t have any belts or wraps around? Just go with the flow and enjoy yourselves!

Undergarments

While not a necessity, there are underwear that have a high waist and can act as a wrap for your pouch, keeping it low profile and more secure. These are usually suited best for men with lower stoma placements.

I’ve worn ostomy underwear by Alternative Ana and they feel quite nice. They offer really nice support and can be worn under clothing if you’re mindful of keeping the bag as empty as possible.

Regular Boxers are another option, and these can be found in a high-waisted option as well if you want to put it over your pouch. Go for loose-fitting boxers to help with pouch expansion, or tighter boxers if that’s not a concern.

Alternative Ana Men's underwear small
I’m wearing men’s underwear by the Canadian company Alternative Ana (these are made for ostomates).
Men's High Boxer from Comfizz.com
Men’s High Boxer from Comfizz.com

Swimming / Beachwear

High-waisted swimming trunks are a great option if your goal is to hide your appliance. Just keep in mind that these will work best if your stoma has a lower placement; if it’s too high, they won’t look very flattering on you. There are specific high-waisted swimming trunks made for ostomates, which feature an inner pocket. Here’s one from Ostomysecrets.

Swimming trunks from Ostomysecrets.com
Swimming trunks from Ostomysecrets.com

Wraps or a Stealth Belt can also come in handy at the beach, and either will be fine getting wet (although it may take your pouch longer to dry). This option works great if your stoma is too high to wear the high-waisted trunks. Stealth Belt does offer a neoprene version, that’s meant specifically for water sports and activity. I haven’t tried that version, so I can’t comment on how quickly it dries compared to the Stealth Belt Pro.

There’s no shame in going shirtless with your ostomy, provided that you’ve got an opaque pouch or a pouch cover on it. Since the pouches are designed to be waterproof, you shouldn’t worry about getting it wet; although if you find that your wafer tends to peel when wet, you may want to use a product that’s designed to protect your wafer, like the Aqua Seal rings, or wafer extenders.

Ostomy at the beach
It’s just an ostomy pouch!

Activewear / Sportswear

If there’s a risk of impact, including amusement park rides, it’s always best to go with a hard stoma guard. Keep in mind that they may limit your range of motion, especially when squatting down, so choose one that fits comfortably, and make sure you keep your pouch as empty as possible.

Geared up to go Zip lining
A stoma guard allowed me to wear this harness comfortably.
stoma guard front crop
This stoma guard from Ostomy Resolutions will keep your stoma protected from impact.

For activities that don’t carry a high-risk of getting hit in the stoma, including jogging, running, hiking or golf, wraps or a Stealth Belt are great options for support and comfort. An ostomy accessory belt may also be useful if you don’t have other accessories.

Hollister ostomy accessory belt_small
Accessory belts can help to support the weight of your appliance.

If you’re doing a lot of strenuous activities, you may find that sweat creates a problem with your wafer. Use extended wear appliances or change your appliance more often if this becomes a problem. Some ostomates find that a cotton pouch cover will help to keep sweat off the skin. Alternatively, ostomy underwear with pockets should also help to keep your skin dry.

Tip: Talk to your surgeon about hernia-prevention (or support belts). These apply pressure to the areas around your stoma and help to prevent hernias. These belts may be particularly important within the year following abdominal surgery.

Bonus Tips

  • Keeping your pouch empty will help keep you comfortable. Don’t wait until you have a balloon for a pouch! Empty it BEFORE it reaches 1/3 full.
  • Don’t worry too much about whether your pouch is obvious or not; most people aren’t looking for your appliance.
  • Patterned shirts will help with concealing your pouch.
  • When buying pants, it’s always better to get one waist size larger if you’re planning on keeping your pouch under your clothes.
  • I find that shirts are usually more comfortable and hide my pouch better when they are a size up.
  • It’s always wise to keep a spare change of clothes around if you’re going for an extended outing away from home. Keep this in your vehicle, along with an ostomy travel kit.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways in which you can dress with an ostomy. Although there are more clothing options available for women, men still have several accessories and clothing choices at our disposal. You might find yourself using different options for different occasions, and that’s perfectly fine!

Additional Resources

You can find a directory of ostomy clothing manufacturers and suppliers on THIS page.

I gave a presentation about the “Secrets to dressing with an ostomy” which you can check out HERE.

For various ostomy accessory reviews on products that work for both men and women, check out THIS page.

QUESTION: Guys, do you have any clothing tips you’d like to share?
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14 thoughts on “Dressing with an Ostomy: A Clothing Guide for Men (with video)

  1. I came across your posting after doing an internet search about ostomies and swim suits. I just booked marked it for further reference, but I watched the entire video and read the text a few minutes ago. It’s tremendously helpful. In my case, I am scheduled for an ileostomy in two weeks; I’ve been participating in an ostomy support group here in Albuquerque for the past few months so I am psychologically ready for the operation. The support group has been great and I’ve met several men who have shared their experiences about what to wear and how to dress, but your site is the most comprehensive and I”m glad that you included pictures of yourself since it makes it “real and personal.” I have yet to discover where my ostomy will be placed, but I have a long torso and my pants tend to slide down to my hips even when I do wear a belt, so I anticipate some problems with pants and underwear. I’ve always been a low rise brief man, so I don’t find boxers and high waisted underwear particularly “sexy,” but I suspect that will change. I particularly like your comments about sex and intimacy since both of those are my greatest fear at the moment. I know that I will just deal with it when the time comes, but still… it’s daunting while I still have my colon inside me. Basically, thanks for posting your site. I know that I will refer to it frequently.

    • Good luck, David!

      When your stoma site is being marked, be sure to let your stoma nurse know of your concerns with clothing. They will mark the stoma in a place that’s most convenient and best for long-term success.

  2. Thanks for your video. This is very useful information. I’m a big fan of the “Hold Up” suspenders you mentioned from the Hold Up Suspender Company as they have clips that don’t slip and they also have “next to the skin” models for summertime. The guard I use is “StomaPlex” which works well. As my stoma is at my belt line, I’d like to have high waist pants but they’re hard to find. Are you aware of sources?

    • Hey Richard,

      Glad to see you found a few solutions! I don’t normally purchase high waist pants, but if you have trouble getting them at a regular department store, you may have better luck at a place that sells garments and offers tailoring.

      I personally look for pants (both dressy and jeans) that either have a stretchy waist band or expands at the waist. These work really well with stoma guards.

      Take care,

      Eric

  3. Hi,

    I’ve been shopping with / for my husband and together we have a few tips for gents in the UK
    Trousers – Marks & Spencers have trousers with a higher cut waist as standard, and many styles have an “active waist”, which is slightly elasticated, allowing room for pouches / bags to expand.
    Underwear – you can have three pairs of the high waisted pants with pockets (like those available from Supportex) on prescription, after that they are £12-14 each. With the time taken to arrange prescriptions, I’d buy a set at the same time as putting in a prescription request, this also applies to support bands (For those with a Urostomy, avoid tight wraps or bands as this increases degrading of seals, particularly hydrocolloid).
    As well as spare trousers, always have spare clean socks, if you have an accident with a liquid output it will invariably drip on your feet! With this in mind, look for shoes that can be washed if needed, such as sneakers.
    For casual wear my husband likes sports trousers like jogging bottoms, or hiking trousers from companies like Regatta or Trespass., as they have elastic in the waist. Straight cut trousers are best if you require a leg bag at all.
    I’d really love to hear from anyone else in the UK if you have tips to share :-)

  4. So glad to know about the stoma guard. This should help with problems around the waist. My husband is one month post op and has resorted to wearing overalls. The guard looks like it will provide more options. Also didn’t know about pouch covers. Thanks so much.

  5. thank you for this, my husband is now 7 days post op, there are a lot of good tips here. step one will be to get a stoma guard!

  6. Really great video, thanks. I’d never thought about wearing a stoma guard to protect my stoma from the trouser belt.
    I was surprised that you wear the wraps / waistband so loose, I wear mine a lot tighter, partly to help protect against hernias, and also mine (from Comfizz) has a band at the bottom so it helps support the bag if it gets full.
    Would you mind if I posted a link to this page on the Colostomy Assoc UK FB Group page. There are often men within that group asking about clothing options

    • Thanks Sue! I would be honored if you shared this information!

      I like wraps to be comfortable, but not too tight, as I find I get more pancaking with tighter accessories on. This may not be an issue for others, but it’s my preference. I find the tighter stuff to work best when I’m active or engaging in sexual activity.

      Have a wonderful day!

  7. Brilliant video. I’m two years in but when I was having the surgery this was probably one of my biggest worries – especially how I would wear smart clothes for work. Also a better solution for seat belts is a clip that fixes the length of the lap belt – like for pregnancy… Very discreet if you are not ‘out of the closet’… Keep up the excellent work!

    • Thanks Bob! I’m going to look into those clips. I’ve read about people using their own DYI solutions, but several seem to pose a safety risk if the belt were to lock in an accident.

      Hope you’re doing well!

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