Pancaking is the term used to describe the vacuuming which can occur in your stoma bag, making the internal layers of the bag stick together and contents cannot drop to the bottom of the bag as they usually do.
As a result of this vacuuming, stool then gathers around the top of the stoma bag which can potentially block the filter and lead to leakage or forcing your bag off your body.
Pancaking usually happens with colostomy bags as the stool is a little bit thicker. Therefore, people with an ileostomy or urostomy don’t usually experience this problem.
If you experience a pancaking stoma, you may find yourself having to push or guide the stool down to the bottom of the bag. However, there are a number of other methods you could try to help stop stoma pancaking occurring…
Add a little air to your colostomy bag
After covering the filter, blow a little air into the stoma bag before application, making sure each side of the plastic isn’t touching as a result. This will encourage the walls of the colostomy bag to separate and hopefully stay this way after application. The stool should then drop to the bottom of the stoma bag as it should. You could also try putting a ‘pleat’ into the bag before applying, again to prevent the internal surfaces sticking together.
Try the ‘loo roll trick’
Another tip that can work for many colostomists who are experiencing pancaking is to roll a square piece of toilet paper into a sausage shape and drop it into the bottom of your colostomy bag before application. The weight of the toilet roll will help the walls of the bag stay separated and therefore help to avoid a pancaking stoma.
Lubricate the stoma bag
Home remedies such as olive oil can also be helpful for preventing stoma pancaking. Just pop some olive oil on the end of your finger and insert it through the aperture (hole) of your stoma bag to grease either side of it. If olive oil doesn’t work, you can always try a lubrication gel which you can order via your home delivery service. This is often thicker than olive oil and can be used in the same way. Simply squirt some lubricating gel into the colostomy bag prior to application and swish it around the bag. This helps to ensure the stool moves down to the bottom of your stoma bag. Make sure you do this before removing the release paper on your flange to prevent problems with the adhesion.
Covering the stoma bag filter
Covering the filter on the stoma bag can help. The filter covers are those little circular or square shaped stickers, which are found at the bottom of your box of stoma bags when they arrive. On occasions, the filter itself can actually pull the stoma bag flat in an attempt to get rid of the gas, which as a result, creates a vacuum in the bag. To resolve this, pop the sticker over the filter or even half covering the filter, to stop stoma pancaking from happening as a result. If there is too much gas in your bag, simply remove the cover and replace it afterwards.
Try another type of stoma bag
If you have tried all of the above and you are still experiencing a pancaking stoma, it might be time to try another stoma bag completely. Your stoma care nurse or delivery company will help you choose an alternative which may have a different style, filter or different material which won’t stick together. Alternatively, you can order free stoma bag samples from Oakmed, using our handy stoma bag product finder to discover a bag that works for you.
For more helpful colostomy advice and support, visit Colostomy UK.