“Pancaking” has been a problem for many ostomates and any solution would be welcome.
I’ve received a sample of the Stoma-Pro, which is marketed to be an “anti-pancaking” device. In this review, I will go over my (brief) experience with it, and why I feel it misses the mark.
About the Stoma-Pro
The product listed below was used for this review. Other sizes are available.
Advertised as being an “in-pouch stoma protection and anti-pancaking system”, the Stoma-Pro is made in the USA and sold by the company Stoma Solutions.
“Pancaking”, if you aren’t aware of the term, describes when your output gets stuck around your stoma or at the top of the bag. This is an annoying issue that can cause leaks if it’s not prevented. I’ve written a guide on how to deal with pancaking HERE.
It’s manufactured using a special nylon that’s quite rigid, but the company says that it can also be made of other materials like plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, etc. It feels really nice in the hand and is precision made to fit your appliance perfectly.
Its design reminds me vaguely of a “pizza saver” (the white plastic thing used to keep a pizza box from touching pizza), but it’s shaped in a way that’s supposed to divert stoma output downwards towards the bottom of your bag. In theory, this should help prevent “pancaking” while offering protection to the stoma at the same time.
Each Stoma-Pro is made to fit the size of the flange coupling on a two-piece ostomy bag. It can only be used on two-piece systems from select brands due to how it actually works.
Using the Stoma-Pro
Using the Stoma-Pro is fairly straightforward: You insert it into the plastic hole in the back of your ostomy bag where it snaps into place. From there, you attach the bag to your wafer as usual. Nothing else needs to be done and there are no other attachments required.
Because it’s attached to the inside of your appliance, you can’t remove or adjust it unless you take your bag off. Obviously, you would only want to do this when you change your appliance. But not everyone removes their bag only when changing their appliance.
If you like to swap bags to keep your filters going, or if you have a tear in the bag and need to replace it, things can get a little (a lot) messy.
Removing the Stoma-Pro is not for the faint at heart. You will be in contact with your feces or urine (depending on the type of stoma you have) and it can be pretty inconvenient if you’re doing an emergency appliance change.
I had to struggle to remove mine, and when it finally did come out, it flung into my skin. I’ll explain the ordeal in the next section, but keep in mind that you’ll need to remove, clean, and replace it with every appliance change.
I wore the Stoma-Pro for two days before I had a very painful, messy blowout.
When I first put it on, I felt quite self-conscious about it because not only does it stick out quite a bit, but I found that the “bump” it leaves ends up being quite vulnerable as it hit the edges of tables and countertops too easy for my liking.
While it does act as a stoma guard, because it relies on your flange for support and because it’s so small, it tugs at your appliance (also causing pain) when it’s hit.
It did do an ok job protecting my stoma from the seatbelt in my car, but that’s about it. If you need real protection from life events then you’ll want to get a guard that goes over your appliance and covers a larger surface area.
As I wore the Stoma-Pro, I noticed that I was getting a lot of stool trapped underneath it. This was really ironic, considering that it’s supposed to be an anti-pancaking device, yet it was causing pancaking instead!
My day went on as usual, and I continued to experience this pancaking with the feeling of pressure on my stoma. Normally, if I’m wearing a guard or support garment and I feel pressure caused by my output looking for a place to go, I can lift the product up and give my stoma some space. Unfortunately, since the Stoma-Pro is fixed, you don’t have this option.
In between the frustration of this pancaking, I was getting intermittent liquid output, which is very unusual for me. I wasn’t feeling sick, so I assumed it that maybe it was something I ate or drank.
Pancaking and pains continued onto the next day where things finally came to an end as my output was forced backward towards my appliance and under it (causing a large leak).
After removing my appliance, my stoma began to happily output like normal. It dawned on me at that point that the liquid output I was having was my body trying to push through stool, which was being blocked because of the Stoma-Pro!
As I mentioned earlier, removing the Stoma-Pro was no easy feat, especially when it’s covered in stool. The idea is that after you remove it you can wash it (and/or disinfect it) and place it in your next bag.
That’s the idea, anyway. In practice, cleaning it was a nightmare and my output was stuck to the inside of it. Cleaning this was not my proudest moment as an ostomate.
At the time of this writing (March 2017), the Stoma-Pro can be ordered starting at US$16.99. While it doesn’t say on the website, I do assume that it can be mailed internationally.
The Stoma-Pro did not work as intended to prevent pancaking and it’s not nearly as protective as other stoma guards.
If you have thick output, then you may be at risk of a painful blowout and/or blockage. And if your output isn’t very thick, then this product won’t really be needed as pancaking won’t be as much of an issue for you.
Urostomates and ileostomates who have liquid/thin output may be able to use this as a lite duty stoma guard, but I’d still recommend an external guard that you can easily remove or reposition for comfort.
Finally, the fact that you have to dig through your own feces to recover the Stoma-Pro, and then wash it if you want to use it again, is a problem not only when it comes to convenience but hygiene as well. I’m not sure many ostomates would opt for that.
While this product may very well work for a small group of ostomates, I can’t recommend it to the vast majority of them.