You may have heard about convexity stoma products and often wondered what they are. Soft convex products are beneficial for those ostomates who have a problematic stoma and are having constant issues with leaks and sore irritated skin around the stoma.
They are not suitable for everyone but are aimed at those who have a stoma with an uneven shape, unusual size, or other irregularities with their stoma and the skin around the stoma (peristomal). They can give protection to your skin, provide security and peace of mind that your stoma bag will not leak. It is also important to know that convexity must be used with some caution as it can cause damage to your skin and stoma if they are not used appropriately.
There are different types of soft convex ostomy bags available to ostomates, but soft convexity is the most well tolerated. It is designed with a shallow profile which minimises pressure, conforming well to your body making it comfortable to wear.
Read more to understand the benefits of convexity and how soft convex ostomy pouches may help.
How do soft convex stoma products work?
Soft convex products can work well for ostomates as it can apply sufficient pressure around the stoma to create an effective seal to protect the peristomal skin. Unlike most stoma bag flanges which have a flat adhesive back to them, soft convex products have a circular outward shape built into it. This area of convexity protrudes giving the flange a stepped side-profile appearance. Soft convexity applies a gentle ring of pressure on the skin around the stoma, creating a more effective seal to provide maximum leakage protection.
Understanding the different depths of convex products
There are different strengths, firmness, and depths of convexity stoma products available, and they each provide different pressure. Knowing which one to use can be a little confusing. Your stoma care nurse will decide which one will be appropriate and also the most comfortable for you.
Depending on the severity of your leaks and skin irritation, you will usually be started on a soft/shallow convex and will be regularly assessed to see that this is helping, is not causing any skin damage and is comfortable for you to wear. Soft convexity is often well tolerated by most ostomates, and its effectiveness will help with decision making as to whether this is enough convexity or whether the ostomate would benefit from a deeper/harder convex product.
Often convexity works better with a belt, which simply fits around your waist and hooks onto the belt loops of your stoma convex product to provide more security.
Who would benefit from a soft convex stoma product?
Flush/retracted stoma spouts: For most ostomates, their stoma will have a small spout which helps their output go directly into their stoma pouch. But for some ostomates, their stoma spout is level on their stomach (flush to the skin) or can even be retracted below the skin surface. This can result in their output not completely dropping into the stoma bag as it should, but instead the output starts to seep/leak out the side of the stoma flange and onto their skin, which can soon lead to sore and inflamed skin.
Folds, wounds, scars and uneven stomachs: Stoma bags are designed flat because the area of skin around the stoma to which they are designed to stick to is, in an ideal world also flat. However, most of us don’t all have a flat stomach but have creases and folds and scars following stoma surgery. This can create an uneven skin surface which is difficult for a flat stoma bag to stick to.
As a result, this can lead to an imperfect seal between the baseplate and peristomal skin, creating small gaps which can allow the stoma output to leak onto the skin. This can be damaging to the skin, as well as potentially causing discomfort and odour, so stopping this occurring is vital. This is where convex pouches come in, as the shape and pressure can mould the skin, again applying sufficient pressure in order to gain a better seal with the pouch.
Liquid and high output: The output of different stomas varies in consistency. The more liquid the output, such as from a urostomy or high-output ileostomy, the more it is more likely to leak. A soft convex ostomy pouch can help to avoid this.
Advantages of wearing soft convex stoma bags
- Convexity is flexible and fits to body contours for comfort and easy positioning
- Convexity can promote healthy skin and feeling of security. The hydrocolloid skin barrier is made to stay firmly in place, helping to minimise leakage and consists of soft tapered edges which help with the removal of the product
- The base of the convex flange can be made with alginate, which can help soothe sore and excoriated skin
- The material within the convexity is a soft quiet fabric
- Soft flexible belt loops available for added security
Contacting your stoma care nurse for guidance
The majority of ostomates will not need to use a soft convex ostomy bag, but if you are having constant issues with leaks or sore skin, speak with your nurse who will assess your stoma and skin for a soft convex pouch. This decision whether to use convexity or not, should be based on a full assessment by your stoma care nurse, who will examine the nature of the stoma as well as the abdomen and its contour, identify the root causes and the extent of the skin damage.
It is vital that this full assessment is carried before moving onto a soft convex stoma product, especially during the early postoperative period with complex stomas. Often, the patient is assessed in different positions such as lying, sitting, and standing. Ultimately, if your stoma care nurse decides to recommend the use of a soft convex system, regular re-evaluation is suggested, as improper use can lead to complications such as skin damage, bruising or pressure ulcers.
What convex products are available?
- Convexity is available for all types of stomas: urostomy, ileostomy and colostomy
- One piece or two-piece systems are available
- Closed and drainable stoma pouches are accessible
- Pre-cut or cut to fit flange can be arranged
- Opaque or clear material options
- Most of the convexity flanges have a hydrocolloid border with a high tack adhesion with a tapered edge with integral border
- For those ostomates who are experiencing sore skin or have hyper-sensitive skin, another option is to try the alginate convex flange which can absorb moisture, soothe and help heal irritated skin.
- Convexity barrier rings are also available for use with flat stoma products
If you would like to sample soft convex products, please speak to your stoma care nurse.