What to wear when you have an ileostomy

You will not need special clothes for everyday wear. Ileostomy pouches are fairly flat and hard to see under most clothing. The pressure of elastic undergarments won’t harm the stoma or prevent bowel function.

If you were sick before surgery, you may find you can now eat normally for the first time in years. As your appetite returns, you may gain weight. This can affect the clothes you choose more than the pouching system itself.

Snug undergarments such as cotton stretch underpants, t-shirts, or camisoles may give you extra support, security, and help conceal pouches. A simple pouch cover adds comfort by absorbing body sweat and also keeps the plastic pouch from resting against your skin. Men can wear either boxer or jockey-type shorts.

In its original form this document was written by the United Ostomy Association, Inc. (1962-2005) and reviewed by Jan Clark, RNET, CWOCN and Peg Grover, RNET. It has since been modified and updated by:

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: December 2, 2014 Last Revised: December 2, 2014

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