Basic Pouch Skills

Emptying the Pouch

Loving couple piggybackEmpty your pouch when it is 1/3 to 1/2 full to reduce the risk of leakage. You may also need to release gas from your pouch if it puffs up. One method is to sit on the toilet, holding the tail of the pouch up. Open the outlet and direct it into the toilet. A few sheets of tissue may help with any splashing. After the pouch is empty, wipe the edge and secure the opening. Wiping the edge is important because it can be a source of odor.

Removing the Pouch

Start at the top, and press down on your skin with one hand, while you gently lift the wafer away from your skin with the other hand. You may need to use a little adhesive remover. Place the pouch in a sealable plastic storage bag and discard. Do not flush it down the toilet. This is a good time to check the back of the barrier to see if there is any excessive wear. You can check the skin under your stoma by looking in a mirror.

Measuring Your Stoma and Cutting the Opening

During the first month after surgery, you will need to measure your stoma weekly because the post-operative swelling will continue to decrease. Use a measuring guide, and cut the opening no more than 1/8 of an inch larger than your stoma. If your stoma is an oval shape, you may need to cut an oval shape in your wafer so that you aren’t exposing to much skin to irritation.

Applying the Pouch

Clean the skin around your stoma with water. Don’t worry about a few tiny drops of blood on your stoma–just be very gentle. If you used any adhesive remover, use a mild soap and water to wash it off and rinse thoroughly. Baby wipes and scented cleansers shouldn’t be used because they can leave an oily residue behind. If necessary, shave the hair around your stoma using mild soap and water, and in the same direction as hair growth.

Make sure your skin is clean and dry. Hold your skin smooth, center the opening around your stoma and apply the wafer from the bottom up. Gently hold it in place for a minute to help it adhere better. Make sure the tail closure is closed and secure.

Patching a Leak

NEVER! There is no such thing as taping a leak to “fix it.” Every second that output from your ostomy is in contact with the skin under your wafer is a chance for your skin to start breaking down. Be prepared by having all the supplies that you need with you in case you have to change your pouch unexpectedly.

Changing the pouch

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