Ileostomy vs. Colostomy Bags: What’s the Difference?

An ostomy is a surgical procedure where a small hole is created to allow bodily waste and fluids to be collected outside the body through a bag. The bag is called an ostomy pouch, which the patient will be required to wear.

There are several reasons a person might require an ostomy, such as inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, ulcerative colitis, and many other conditions. If your loved one recently underwent an ostomy procedure or is about to have one, it’s best to stay informed regarding the type of medical condition they have since it will give you an idea of what kind of bag they will use.

Helping a loved one adapt to new lifestyle changes due to an ostomy bag makes a difference. You must know more about colostomy vs. ileostomy and the differences between the bags used after both surgeries.

Learning More About Colostomy & Ileostomy

The two common types of fecal ostomy surgeries are colostomy and ileostomy. While they both result in the need for an ostomy pouch, they are distinct procedures. Both are stomas, but colonoscopy is a procedure involving your colon, and will generally produce solid output. On the other hand, an ileostomy refers to your ileum, which is the small bowel. Because the output of an ileostomy bypasses the colon, it will almost always be liquid exclusively.


A colostomy is a well-known procedure that millions of people have each year. During the surgery, the doctors will direct a part of the large intestine out of the abdomen. After that, the doctors will create an opening, which is the stoma. It allows your body to expel waste into a pouch. Doctors will generally place the stoma on the left side of the lower portion of the abdomen.

The four types of colostomy

  • Transverse colostomy. This procedure is usually temporary. However, there is a permanent transverse colostomy. It allows the stool to leave the body before it reaches the descending colon.
  • This treatment is typically performed on the right side of the tummy, with only a small colon area remaining active.
  • A sigmoid colostomy is done at the bottom part of the large intestine, and waste is moved to the rectum.
  • Typically located on the lower left side of the abdomen, and is made from the descending part of the colon.

Keep in mind that each of these colostomy procedures will result in a stoma. Therefore, using a colostomy bag is required.


An ileostomy is a surgery performed on the small intestine rather than the large intestine. It is a necessary procedure for individuals with ileum disorders that prevent it from working properly. It is also performed when a condition affects the colon so that it must be bypassed temporarily, allowing it to heal.

During ileostomy surgery, the lower segment of the small intestine is passed through an incision to establish a stoma. The stoma is usually located on the right lower abdominal wall. An ileostomy is typically only required for three to six months, though may be required permanently if the condition is more serious, or the colon needs to be removed altogether.

As mentioned, an ileostomy causes liquid stools. Therefore, the ostomy pouch has to be emptied often and can be more difficult to manage generally.

Deciding Between a Colostomy vs. Ileostomy Bag

When considering a colostomy vs. ileostomy bag, you should know the different designs available. There are several options to choose from, including one-piece/two-piece pouches and open/closed pouches. A medical professional can often advise you about which ones are the best for your or a loved one’s condition. It may also depend on whether an ostomy bag is needed for a short time or more permanently.

One-Piece Pouches

One-piece ostomy pouches are used for those who want a smaller, more discreet bag. They are easier to attach and can be changed in half the time of two-piece bags. However, the patient may feel discomfort with these bags compared to others. One piece drainable pouches are generally suitable for colostomy or ileostomy patients.

Two-Piece Pouches

There are two-piece bags, which are often more comfortable since the skin barrier is separate from the ostomy bag, compared to a one-piece bag where the skin barrier is attached. You can wait up to four days before changing the skin barrier, and changing the ostomy bag is much easier. As above, drainable two-piece bags will work for both colostomy and ileostomy. While closed two-piece pouches should only be used for colostomy.

High-Output Pouches

For those with ileostomies, high output drainable pouches can be a great option. They are designed specifically to mitigate the need to constantly empty the pouch due to an ileostomy’s heavy liquid output. Available in one-piece and two-piece configurations, they can allow you to get a good night’s sleep without constant trips to the bathroom. Additionally, a high-output drainage bag has recently been introduced that extends your capacity even further.

Choose an Ostomy Bag that Fits Your Needs

Everyone has different preferences, even with ostomy bags. So it’s best to consider your comfort level and what you need before choosing one. It will make a lot of difference in your lifestyle, whether your stoma is permanent or not.

At Medical Monks, different ostomy bags are available, ideal for your need. Find the best from the biggest brands that will suit your preferences.

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