Guide to Colostomy Bags

If your bowel needs to heal after a health problem or part of your colon needs to be taken out because of a condition or disease, you may need a colostomy bag. There are several types of colostomy bags by different manufacturers.

During surgery, the end of your colon is brought through an opening in your belly to form what's called a "stoma." This is where your feces (poop) will come out. Unlike your anus, your stoma doesn't have muscles or nerve endings. So you can't control when you move your bowels. Instead, a pouch, called a colostomy bag, goes over the stoma to collect your poop when it comes out.

Whether you'll only need it for a brief time or it's a permanent change, a colostomy bag can take some getting used to. But most people adjust and soon return to their normal lives.


Types of Bags

One colostomy bag doesn't fit all. There are different types to choose from:


  • One-piece system: This fits around your stoma and is attached with a gentle adhesive. When you need a fresh bag, you take the whole thing off and replace it with a new one. Some of these systems use flushable liners.
  • Two-piece system: A base plate fits tightly around your stoma, and you attach a bag to it. You'll change the bag as needed; the base plate usually is changed every 2 to 3 days.
  • Closed bags: These are best used with firm stools. You'll change it twice a day. Some have special liners inside that can be flushed down the toilet.
  • Drainable bags: These are best if your stools are very liquid. You empty them through an opening at the bottom. They need to be changed every 2 or 3 days.
  • Mini pouches: These are small bags you wear for only a short amount of time.

Your doctor or a nurse trained in stoma care will help you choose the one that's right for you and your lifestyle. Many times, it's possible to try one before you decide.