An ostomy belt is a medical device designed to hold a colostomy bag against the body. Though not required to use an ostomy bag, an ostomy belt properly secures the bag during physical activity, a plus for patients who wish to maintain an active lifestyle. As belts come in many shapes and sizes, a patient may need try more than one before finding the best belt.
After a colostomy, a patient must use a colostomy bag to eliminate solid waste from the body. This bag rests against the abdomen and is attached to the body by an adhesive that surrounds the ostomy site. This system is appropriate for sedentary activities such as working at a desk; during physical activity, however, there is a possibility that the colostomy can come loose and detach. This has been known to happen to patients who toss and turn during sleep. Thus, the ostomy belt is an added layer of protection that allows patients to perform a greater range of activities without fear of embarrassing accidents.
The first ostomy belts, still commercially available, are simple elastic bands 1 to 2 inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm) in diameter that run across the abdomen, holding down the bottom portion of the colostomy bag. Though these belts provide an extra layer of protection to patients, they are not appropriate in all situations such as swimming or sexual activity. A new generation of ostomy belts cater to patients who do these or any other strenuous activities on a regular basis.
Ostomy belts developed in the last few years have three advantages that the first ostomy belts do not provide. The first is that a new ostomy belt covers the entire ostomy bag. Roughly 10-inches-wide (25.4 cm), they resemble a truss; an invisible colostomy bag reduces any possible embarrassment a patient may feel by having had the procedure. The second advantage is that the new belts do not allow moisture to reach the colostomy bag; this feature is an advantage for swimmers. These belts also firmly hold the colostomy bag in place, allowing a patient to perform many physical activities without fear of releasing waste from the ostomy bag.
Before purchasing an ostomy belt, it is best to first evaluate one's specific needs. If one does not do much physical activity, purchasing only a smaller belt may be the best option. For those who decide upon a larger, watertight belt, investing in a smaller belt as well might be a good; using a smaller belt for sleeping increases one's range of motion and reduces discomfort.