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How To Change an Ostomy Appliance

Part Of Living With An Ostomy Includes Regular Appliance Changes


Updated June 05, 2014

Ostomy surgery is difficult to contemplate, but it improves the lives of many people, and in fact, saves lives as well. An ostomy requires special care. Here are the steps necessary to change an ostomy bag.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 10-20 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Wash your hands!
  2. Set out your equipment within easy reach. You will need: adhesiver remover, skin protector, wafer, pencil, measuring guide, stomahesive paste, plastic bags, washcloth, clean towel, new pouch, scissors.
  3. Empty your pouch as normal.
  4. Wipe the tape surrounding the old wafer with the adhesive remover. Hold skin with one hand, and gently pull wafer off with the other. Use adhesive remover as needed.
  5. Put old pouch, wafer and other waste (not the clip!) into a plastic bag for disposal. Sealable sandwich bags work great.
  6. Clean the skin and stoma with a washcloth and warm water. This is best done in the shower, but don't use scented soaps, as they will leave a film. Any waste coming out of the stoma can wash down the drain.
  7. Pat skin dry, and measure stoma with measuring guide. Leave only 1/8" to 1/16" between the measuring guide and the stoma.
  8. Trace the correct size onto the back of the wafer with the starter hole in the middle. Cut out the hole.
  9. Apply skin protector to the peristomal skin where the wafer will be.
  10. Peel the paper from the wafer and apply stomahesive paste around the cut circle in the wafer. Smooth it out with a wet finger (the water will help to keep it from sticking to your finger).
  11. Remove paper backing from tape and apply the entire appliance over the stoma. Make sure the stoma is in the center of the hole. Press firmly and smooth wrinkles.
  12. Snap the new pouch onto the wafer, and give it a small tug to be sure it's in place.
  13. Press gently on the wafer for a minute to help it get a good seal.
  14. Close the bottom of the bag with the clip, and you're off!


  1. Stand over an old towel or some paper towels when changing bags to catch any waste from the stoma.
  2. Don't eat late the night before a change. That way, stoma output will be less.
  3. Some bleeding is normal when touching your stoma, but report any unusual color, size, shape, or bleeding to your ET nurse.
  4. Try different products. Call your ET nurse or ostomy supply companies and ask for free samples. You may have to shop around to find what works for you.
  5. Always follow any special instructions provided by your health care professional. This How To is only a guideline.

What You Need:

  • adhesiver remover
  • skin protector
  • plastic bags
  • washcloth & towel
  • wafer
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