Ostomy Accessories Guide: Hernia Belts

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Video

https://youtu.be/QZiqViLYimE

What is a Hernia Belt?

A hernia belt, which can also be referred to as a hernia prevention belt or a hernia support belt, is an accessory used to either prevent or support a parastomal hernia.

Basko healthcare hernia belt
Hernia belts will have a hole that you put your appliance through. The hole is surrounded by a stiff material that’s designed to keep pressure around your stoma.

A parastomal hernia is a type of hernia that’s common among ostomates. So common, in fact, that up to nearly 50% of ostomates may develop a hernia at some point (SOURCE).

This occurs when the gut breaches the abdominal wall muscle and creates a bulge under the skin. Parastomal hernias can be quite large and cause other complications like leaks, improper appliance fit, etc.

You can see photos of parastomal hernias on Google search HERE (warning: some graphic content). I don’t want to post photos without permission, but if you have a photo of a parastomal hernia that you’d like me to share here, please CONTACT ME.

It’s important that anyone who has a parastomal hernia be in contact with their stoma nurse or surgeon to make sure that it doesn’t become larger.

Sometimes, surgical correction is required (or desired), while at other times a hernia support belt will be used.

Some Benefits

  • Hernia belts can be used to minimize the chance of developing a parastomal hernia.
  • If you already have a parastomal hernia, a hernia support belt may help to prevent it from getting worse.
  • Hernia belts also provide support for a hernia to allow for better appliance management.
  • Hernia belts can often allow an ostomate to get back into exercising with heavy weights, play sports, or do heavy lifting at home or work.

Potential Issues

  • There is no guarantee when it comes to hernia prevention, so hernia belts aren’t 100% effective.
  • Hernia belts often need to be fitted, which can be inconvenient.
  • Hernia belts tend to be made of a stiffer material compared to fabric bands, which may not be as comfortable to wear.
  • Depending on where you live, hernia belts are an out-of-pocket expense.
  • Hernia belts may generate more heat and sweat around the abdomen, which may be uncomfortable. Fortunately, some brands do allow for better air flow.

How Hernia Belts are Typically Sold

Nu hope hernia belt_credits Deb_FB_small
One style of hernia belt from Nu-Hope. Photo used with permission.

Hernia belts are often sized to a specific wearer. Not only does it have to fit snugly around your abdomen, but it also has to allow your ostomy appliance to fit through a hole that’s exactly the right size.

I would recommend speaking directly with the manufacturer of your belt to find the right size for you. Better yet, have your stoma nurse take the measurements for you.

In some cases, you may be able to be fitted at a local medical supply store before they place an order for you.

Here’s a video by Nu-Hope, a company that makes hernia belts, showing how to take measurements for their Nu-Form belt (other manufacturers may have different instructions):

https://youtu.be/DF5yJN7MDf4

Hernia belts can easily sell for over $100, but most insurance companies will cover the cost if you have a prescription from your doctor. Even if you don’t have a parastomal hernia, I would still suggest getting a prescription so that you can get a hernia prevention belt.

If you’re looking for suppliers of hernia belts, I have a list of companies who make them on THIS page.

Purchase on Amazon

You can purchase ostomy hernia belts on Amazon (affiliate links). Many of the belts come in at under $50: USA | CANADA

How to Use a Hernia Belt

Hernia belts are meant to be worn around your abdomen.

Most will have an adjustable waistband with a fastener to close the ends (usually Velcro). They will also have a hole for your appliance to fit through, and surrounding that hole is usually a stiffer material to give you better support around your stoma.

To put one on, you’ll want to place it on your abdomen with the hole just over your appliance. You may loosely attach the Velcro ends to hold it in place.

Next, you’ll want to feed the bottom of your appliance through the hole in the belt. Pay close attention that the flange of your bag isn’t being pressed on.

You can now tighten the band appropriately – this should be fairly tight as it needs to apply pressure to your skin, but not so tight that’s it’s uncomfortable.

Some hernia belts may have an extra flap that goes over your appliance (as in the photo above). This extra flap may restrict the flow of your output, causing pancaking, so be aware of that.

Tips on Using Hernia Belts

Here are a few tips to make wearing a hernia belt more useful.

  • Wear it. The thing with hernia belts is that they are only helping you if you wear it! I know it sounds like common sense, but sometimes we get lazy or neglect these things.
  • Have another belt fitted if you gain/lose a lot of weight. If your body shape changes drastically, your current hernia belt may not fit 100%. Get it checked or refit yourself for a new one.
  • Some belts are designed to offer better air flow. If you live in a hot climate, this might be something to ask about.
  • If you change brands or the style of your appliance and the hole on the belt no longer fits snugly around the base (or flange), you may need to get a different belt.

Alternatives to Hernia Belts

There aren’t many great substitutes for true hernia belts, although some manufacturers who make ostomy support bands will claim that their products can help prevent or support parastomal hernias.

I would take those claims with a grain of salt unless their bands use a stiff material to press against your skin. If they use stretchy fabric, there won’t be enough support there.

Additional Resources

If you have a hernia and are looking for moral support, check out the Community Forums.

More accessory guides will be added to this series. SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter to find out when a new guide is available.
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2 thoughts on “Ostomy Accessories Guide: Hernia Belts

  1. I’ve heard that one surgeon has suggested NOT using a hernia belt. He feels that the abdominal muscles need to be worked to regain their ability to carry out their function of supporting the abdomen. He felt that these muscles are hindered in fulfilling this function if a hernia belt is doing the supporting. Is this a commonly held view?

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