Common misconceptions for life with an ostomy bag

Happy New Year!

I did a lot of research at the beginning of last year, even before I knew that I would be getting an ostomy bag, because I knew that I would probably end up with one and wanted to be as prepared with knowledge about living with an ostomy. I’ve written a few misconceptions below I’ve seen people ask about ostomy bags and wanted to clear up these common misconceptions with my experiences.

Misconception #1: You can’t bathe or swim with an ostomy bag.

  • False! You can totally bathe, swim, and shower with an ostomy bag. Just check your ostomy wafer to make sure it’s not loosening up around the edges. I haven’t had an issue with wear time on my ostomy wafer from any kind of soaking. Just make sure to dry your bag well, I always use my hairdryer to get it dry really fast.

Misconception #2: You can’t get a massage with an ostomy bag.

  • False! I just recently had my first massage since my total colectomy and it was amazing! I let them know about my bag when I went to schedule my appointment and they were very accommodating. I laid on my side for the back massage and it was just as good as a regular massage when I’ve laid on my stomach. I felt relaxed and that the massage therapist got all the knots worked out that I had.

Misconception #3: Ostomy bags smell.

  • False again! I always worried that someone would smell my output through my bag. The filters on ostomy bags help prevent just that, as well as helping with gas inflating the bag. I can only smell the output when I open the end of my bag to empty it.

Misconception #4: Ostomies are permanent.

  • False! Not all ostomies are permanent. I’m actually a candidate to have my ostomy reversed. My surgeon and GI said because of my ulcerative colitis I have a better chance of a successful reversal. The surgeon makes a part of your small intestines into a j-pouch, which will act as your new rectum, and after it has healed takes your ileostomy away and hooks everything back up.

Misconception #5: You can’t exercise with an ostomy.

  • False! Obviously check with your surgeon on when you’re ok to resume exercise/physical activity. I asked my surgeon after 6-8 weeks post op and got the go ahead with no restrictions. I do make sure to modify any core work and listen to my body. There are belts you can buy to help keep your ostomy bag tucked in and help prevent getting a hernia.

I hope these answers have helped clear up any common misconceptions you’ve heard or had yourself about ostomy bags.

Until next time,


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