Why Support Wear Is Vital After Surgery

Why Support Wear Is Vital After Surgery

So you’ve had your stoma surgery and you’re well on the way to making a full recovery and getting back to normal life, normal life being pretty much whatever you did before your illness but with a few differences. Apart from the obvious mechanical changes your stoma imposes, there’s not much that you can’t do, that you could do before your surgery, provided you take the right measures to reduce your risk of developing a parastomal hernia. The literature shows that over 50% of those with a stoma will go on to develop a hernia within the first two years after surgery (Boyles 2010. McGrath et al 2006, Thompson 2008).

What exactly is a parastomal hernia?

When a stoma is formed it is passed through the abdominal muscles which becomes a potential weak spot. Pressure from internal organs pushes out into a hernia formation (a bulge on the tummy) around the stoma site. Once formed the hernia will tend to slowly increase in size and can become uncomfortable.

Why does this matter?

A hernia can effect quality of life in the following ways:

  • Changes to the stoma size and shape of surrounding skin can affect bag adherence, increasing the likelihood of leaks.
  • Leaks can cause skin problems as the output from the stoma comes into contact with the skin.
  • Changes in body shape can affect self confidence and desire to socialise.
  • Larger hernias can affect the ability to bend and could restrict movement and fitness.
  • Some hernias can feel very uncomfortable.
  • Serious hernias can cause complications such as bowel incarceration and strangulation leading to further surgery.

Factors that affect your risk:

  • Weight Gain
  • Smoking
  • Coughing
  • Wound Infection
  • Activity, which further strains the muscles around the stoma, e.g. heavy lifting and exercise 

What measures can you take to reduce your risk of a hernia?

The surgical procedure may not have been in your control but from here on out you have a lot of control about your health and what you can do to help reduce the risk of developing a hernia.

  • Get advice from your stoma nurse – he/she may be able to refer you to a physiotherapist for advice on safe exercises to strengthen core muscles.
  • Use support wear when excercising.
  • If you are overweight, by losing weight you will reduce intra-abdominal pressure pushing on those weakened muscles as well as gaining other health benefits.
  • If you have a persistent cough, ensure you wear some firm support to assist the muscles.
  • Try replacing regular underwear with light to moderate support wear. (Click here for ours!)

How beneficial can support wear be?

Support wear may not have been your passion before stoma surgery but it can now be your friend when it comes to your comfort and protection. A study in 2014 looked at this exact question to see if wearing support wear in place of regular underwear could in fact reduce the risk of developing a hernia; the results were, that when combined with complying with medical advice, yes! (Source) The study took place in Queens Hospital London, comparing incidences of hernias from one year to the following year, before and after support wear intervention. The incidence of hernias in patients who wore support wear was just 1% compared to 23% in the previous year. Patients were advised to wear Comfizz light support immediately after surgery on discharge from hospital then followed up at 3, 6 & 9 months to monitor compliance and possible needs for firmer support as they recovered and became more active.

Figure 1: Shows results from study published in the BJN March 2014.

Other benefits of wearing support wear:

  • Generally offers good coverage of the stoma site with higher than average waist heights, which can give the discretion you need.
  • Enhances body shape and reduce the visible bulge from the bag which can be a real boost to self confidence especially when dressing to impress!
  • Supports the weight of your bag as it fills, which will reduce that dragging feeling.
  • A life saver when it comes to giving you those vital extra minutes to contain a leak as the compression from the garment helps to hold the bag in place.
  • Contributes to improving bag adherence as again the compression gently presses the bag in place.
  • Contribute towards a peaceful nights sleep as it holds the bag in place while you sleep
  • Waistbands can make intimacy less intimidating as it hides and supports the bag.
  • Support wear by Comfizz uses breathable wicking fabrics which means you stay cool and dry.
  • Support wear by Comfizz contains two-way stretch knit so you get complete freedom of movement.

Support wear designed for ostomies is going to give you the confidence, comfort, and protection that you need

Comfizz's Three Levels of Support

Level 1 -  Light Support Wear
Premium support wear designed to overcome many common difficulties faced by living with a stoma, incontinence or post surgical wounds. Soft, gentle support, comfortable enough to be worn all day, every day without restricting the flow of a stoma.

Level 2 - Medium Support Wear
Ideal for supporting hernias, or for extra support during exercise activities. Also, ideal for discretely holding larger incontinence pants securely. Soft breathable fabric for ultra comfort.

Level 3 - Firm Support Wear
Premium firm support belt, ideal for holding hernias, protecting hernia repairs and giving extra support during strenuous activity.

Most of our garments are available on prescription in the UK*, however the quantity you are allowed each year will depend on your GP and location. Garments are always available for private purchase via our website or by getting in touch with us over the phone. Contact us!

*Scotland in 2020 have recently restricted the range of garments available on NHS so check with your GP or stoma nurse.

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