What is an Accessory Belt?
Accessory belts are used to help support an ostomy appliance by applying gentle pressure to the flange of the appliance.
When used correctly, accessory belts can provide support to your bag while it fills up. This support may also help to prevent leaks caused by the bag being tugged, and it will make wearing a full or filling ostomy bag more comfortable.
Indirectly, accessory belts may help to lower the profile of your appliance by pulling it closer to your skin.
If you are active throughout the day, an accessory belt can offer support while doing exercise, although it’s not the best option available.
Sometimes, too much support can be a bad thing, and wearing an accessory belt too tight can cause issues.
Pressure sores, which are common when people using accessory belts that are too tight, can cause deep, painful ulcers under the wafer. People who wear convex appliances should be especially cautious about tightening the belt too much.
Another problem that some wearers may have if their belt is on too tight is that it can cause the flange on a two-piece system to bend and open up (resulting in a leak). This is especially true if your bag is heavy from being full and you’re wearing a two-piece that snaps together without a lock (i.e. Hollister New Image appliances).
How Accessory Belts are Typically Sold
There are many different styles and sizes of accessory belts available, but not all will be appropriate for every appliance.
When purchasing an accessory belt, it’s important to make sure that any hook system being used is compatible with the belt hooks on your appliance.
Each manufacturer has their own style of belt hook, and not all of them will be interchangeable among other brands.
There are products, such as the Nu-Comfort Belt, which is compatible with most two-piece systems (and some one-piece appliances). However, they are ordered to fit a specific flange size and may not fit a different appliance if you switch down the road.
Along with making sure that you have the right hook style, you’ll also want to make sure that the belt itself is large enough to fit around your waist with room for adjustments.
Many of these belts tend to have rather narrow bands, measuring approx. 1″. This helps to keep things minimal, but it may also create challenges depending on your body shape.
Fortunately, many accessory belts are covered by private insurance, and they don’t tend to cost more than $10 or $15 each.
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How to Use Accessory Belts
Most of the “hook” style accessory belts work on the same principle: Each end of the hook attaches to the loops on the bag (or in some systems, the flange) of a two-piece ostomy appliance.
Once the hooks are fastened, the belt should be adjusted so that there’s approx. enough room to fit two fingers between the belt and your skin.
If you are using a belt like the Nu-Comfort belt, then the idea is to place the hard plastic ring of the belt over your flange and adjust the tightness of the band to suit your preference. Unlike with the hook style belts, this style applies pressure around the entire circumference of the flange and should help to avoid some common issues.
Tips on Using Accessory Belts
- Certain hook style belts will fit various appliances, so don’t replace a belt until you try it out with a new appliance.
- While these belts tend to be pretty durable, they still need to be washed so keep a few on hand for convenience.
- If you outgrow your belt, consider donating it before throwing it away.
Alternatives to Accessory Belts
If the goal is to better support your ostomy bag, you may find the following products to be suitable alternatives to using an accessory belt:
If you’re having trouble getting your appliance to stick onto your skin, THIS article may be helpful.