My Ileostomy Stoma, aka Fred, sat slightly in a dip on my stomach, I was absolutely paranoid about leaks, in the first few months of having my surgery I checked my bag seal constantly, I was always peaking and prodding, I was so scared I may leak, it is not easy to accept something that causes so much trouble! it was after a few months when I discovered I was more suited to convex bags my confidence grew.
I only had one leak in the 18 months I had Fred, and that was within the first few weeks when I had a blockage and my output was water, before I discovered a better setup.
I started using a convex 2-piece system with a convex base plate and a drainable bag. I would use a barrier wipe that protected my skin as I was sensitive, stoma powder to absorb any extra moisture from the base of Fred that may interfere with adhesion, and a barrier seal to fill any dips in my skin. Then I would use a base plate and ensure it was well stuck before I attached the bag.
The 2 piece system, I found, allowed me to see what was going on easier. If my output was particularly nasty at any time, I could just click off and change the bag, without a major fuss, quick and easy, between main base changes.
I have extremely sensitive skin that reacts to anything new, this caused many issues initially as the area around Fred would burn and itch, as soon as stool came into contact with it, I knew it! especially if I had watery output. This set up reduced that dramatically.
I have since discovered I have Bile Sale Malabsorbtion, this causes, as well as many other things, acidic, watery output. Had I known that then, medication would of helped hugely.
Once I had the system in place, before I added the click on bag, I would use a Stomaplex Equalizer! This is a small piece of rubber tubing that I could use to apply pressure inside the base plate ring, I would hold it in place for about 20 seconds and it would make a great seal between my skin and the base.
After attaching my click on bag, unless the weather was very warm, I would place either a heat bag or warm pad against the area, this would again warm the sealant to ensure full adhesion. I would do this for a few minutes whilst I relaxed.
This may all sound very lengthy but trust me it's worth it! a total change would take me approx 10 minutes and was something I grew to accept as part of my weekly routine.
Below is an example of a two piece detachable bag with click fitting and drainable.
I never had a leak, the base would last approx. 5 days, at which time I changed it, but it wasn't because it leaked, it was because of my sensitive skin and irriatation would start after that long as the seal broke down from the acidic stool. If needed I could just change the bag on days in-between.
I managed to swim, climb and more and never lost the seal! When I went swimming I would towel dry around the outside of the bag and seal and that was all that was needed!
It never shortened the time a bag lasted in any way, if it was possible, I would dry with a warm hair drier (not hot or it may melt the bag!) just for my own comfort.
Occasionally I would shower with no bag, I would time it right when Fred was at its quietest and shower bag-less with just the base plate on. or off, depending if it was change day.
The seal wasn't affected by water. To slow my output down ready for a change I would sometimes have a few marshmallows shortly before, so I didn't poop on myself in the shower :).
Finding the right bag for your stoma is vital, I tried out several different makes, some made me itch or didn’t last long on my skin, however, once I had it right, I was confident and never worried I would leak, even at night when it would often fill with air!
The Stomaplex Equalizer was the best thing I ever discovered for Fred and, although expensive in my opinion for what it is, it's worth every penny and more!
The longer you can go between changes, the better for you and your skin, bag seals have ingredients in them to promote skin repair and constant changing is pulling away a layer of skin each time making the site more vulnerable and sorer.
If like me, your Stoma saved your life, you deserve the best relationship with it that you can achieve, I hope my experiences I have shared may help you to reach that! I know if I ever have to have Fred back one day, ill cope!
There are many videos on you tube to help learn and once you get over the squeamish side of it, they are fantastic to give ideas and support! This is just what worked for me, I encourage you to keep trying things until you feel confident, we have enough things to worry about without leakage being one of them!