How Exactly Does a Colostomy Differ from an Ileostomy?

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Reviewed by Christine Kijek, Registered Colorectal Nurse on, June 22, 2022

Introduction     |    Colostomy vs. Ileostomy     |    Colostomy Needs     |    Ileostomy Needs     |    Ostomy Skincare

Many people would think that any type of surgery to correct an issue with your intestines would be lumped into the same category, but that is completely untrue. While there can be many causes for the need for surgery, where this surgery takes place in the intestinal tract determines whether or not a colostomy is needed or an ileostomy. Both procedures involve bringing a section of the intestines through the abdominal wall so that waste can be expelled from the body. These two procedures are utilized for a number of different situations and there have been some alternatives, but these are the two most common solutions for problems involving expelling waste.

There are many reasons to have ostomy surgery such as bowel cancer, damage caused by inflammation in the intestines, or maybe an injury to the bowels that just needs time to heal. Both of these procedures require the surgeon to bring a section of your intestines through the abdominal wall creating what is called a stoma and then attaching a bag to that stoma to collect feces. The main difference between colostomy and ileostomy is that a colostomy involves part of the large intestine called the colon while an ileostomy involves part of the small intestine called the ileum (the end of the small intestine).

They also point out that both procedures can be temporary and reversed depending on the need for the procedure. An acute injury to the intestines may require an ostomy to allow the intestines to heal and the success rates of reversals may vary depending upon the patient’s overall health. Since the location of damage in the intestines determines which procedure is needed, there will be a difference in the physical characteristics of the stool. Waste that is collected in a colostomy will be formed since the colon absorbs water while the stool involved in an ileostomy will be more of a semisolid liquid since it bypasses the colon altogether. Below is a diagram of how a colostomy works:


Colostomy Needs

For those who have just had a colostomy, understanding what they need to manage their ostomy is important. At first, lifestyle changes may seem daunting but once a proper routine is established an active lifestyle is easily achieved. Your doctor or ostomy nurse will work with you to determine what options are available to you as far as choosing an ostomy appliance. Pouching systems, skin adhesives, stoma wafers, and skincare items are readily available in many variations so you can choose which will work best for you. You can choose between a 1-Piece or a 2-Piece colostomy pouch whichever will work for your lifestyle or just personal preference.


Many different manufacturers produce different variations of their colostomy pouching systems. For instance, the Cymed Micro Skin Colostomy Pouches are available in many different forms. Also, Hollister Premier Single Use Kits have a variety of options available to colostomy patients. Other options for patients included the Stomocur Brilliant & Select One Piece Cut to Fit Colostomy Closed Pouch with Filter. These systems include a built-in filter to reduce odor. For those that prefer a two-piece system Stomocur produces the Soft Two-Piece Colostomy Mini Pouch with Integrated Filter and the Stomocur Two-Piece Closed Colostomy Pouch with Locking Ring and Filter. What’s important to understand is that manufacturers produce many different variations of their products so that each patient can choose what is appropriate for their specific needs. For protection, a colostomate may wish to use the 3M Nexcare Stomaseal Colostomy Dressing. It’s a tape supported, soft, absorbent pad with a hypoallergenic adhesive and is totally inconspicuous.

What About an Ileostomy?


An ileostomy is different than a colostomy so it’s only logical that the needs of an ileostomy patient would be different from a colostomy patient’s needs, right? While both procedures are similar there are some very specific differences between the two. Since an ileostomy is done using the small intestines or ileum and bypasses the colon, the stool produced will be formed less and contain more liquid. The Stomocur Protect Ileostomy Pouches are manufactured to meet the needs of ileostomy patients. They offer both one-piece and two-piece pouching systems as well as other variations to fit most patients’ needs.

Marlen offers the Neoprene Rubber Ileostomy Pouch and the Weight Less Odor Ban Ileostomy Pouch made specifically for ileostomy patients. Cymed offers those with an ileostomy their MicroSkin Platinum Ileostomy Pouch and their MicroSkin Ileostomy One-Piece 9 Inch Clear Drainable Pouch. The Hollister Premier Single Use Kit can be used for an ileostomy as well as a colostomy. To deal with the runny nature of an ileostomy, the Montréal Ileostomy Pouch Absorbent Tablet, as well as the Montréal Ostogel Ileostomy Pouch Super Absorbent dissolves on contact releasing granules that form a gel with the liquid fecal matter making pouch emptying a simple pleasant task. The consistency of this waste can be affected by medications you take and food you eat. It’s because of this liquidy stool that the skin around your stoma must be monitored and cared for very carefully.

Colostomy or Ileostomy: Skincare a Must!!

While there are differences between the two procedures, the one thing that is critical is caring for the skin around your stoma. Many complications can arise if this skin comes in contact with fecal material. Aside from just common irritation, pain and infection can be a real issue. Many of the skin protectants come in powder, paste, spray or wipes.


One way to protect skin is to fill in uneven spots around the stoma by using the Coloplast Ostomy Paste to create a flat pouching site. Other pastes available to ostomy patients are the Hollister Karaya Paste, Cymed Micro Hesive Stoma Paste, and ConvaTec Stomahesive Paste. All work to level out uneven areas around the stoma to create a secure pouching area to avoid skin irritation. In order to protect skin against excoriation, a powder such as the Marlen Karaya Powder, ReliaMed Ostomy Pectin Powder, or Parthenon K-Gum Karaya Ostomy Powder is all readily available and easy to use. While there may be some differences between a colostomy and an ileostomy, they also have similarities that allow you the freedom to choose between many different products to maintain your freedom and lifestyle.


Where to buy Ostomy Supplies online?

Shop Ostomy has a wide wide range of Ostomy bags such as 1 Piece Ostomy bag,2 Piece Ostomy bag, Ostomy powder and many more from top Brands like Coloplast, Nu-hope, Hollister, Convatec, Marlen. Buy now and get best online discounts on every purchase.

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