Approximately 1 in 500 people in the United States are living with a stoma and require the use of some type of ostomy barrier as part of their healthcare. But even with more than 100,000 new ostomies performed annually, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding what an ostomy is and what it means for an individual living with a stoma.  

Because of the misinformation and hesitation to take about continent diversion surgeries and procedures, there might be some confusion about the terms being used. So before we discuss ostomy barriers, let’s go back a bit to explain what comes before.

Ostomies and Ostomates

An ostomy is a surgical procedure performed in response to an issue in the bowel or urinary tracts. This could stem from a birth defect, trauma to the abdomen, cancer, or other illnesses that affect the bowel, bladder, or nearby tissues in those areas. 

In most cases, an ostomy requires some lifestyle adjustment but ultimately leads to a better quality of life for people suffering from diseases or injuries that cause pain, continence issues, and limit the ability to live life to its fullest. 

People who have experienced an ostomy have adopted the common title of an “ostomate” and can find a community of understanding and support for themselves, their families, and friends. 

Types of Ostomies

There are three types of ostomies — colostomy, ileostomy, and urostomy. While these procedures are very similar, each type focuses on a different body part and is used to treat various medical issues. These could be permanent measures or temporary until another surgery is performed. 

What is the difference?


A colostomy is an operation in which the bowel pathway is redirected to the abdomen instead of continuing to the rectum. A colostomy is usually performed after or in conjunction with a colectomy when a colon section is removed. 


The ileum is the lowest part of the small intestine, and an ileostomy is a procedure to bypass a section of the ileum in the same way a colostomy does for the large intestine. 

In both cases, the bowel is redirected and attached to the abdominal wall creating a stoma for waste to exit the body — we will explain this in more detail later. 


Colostomies and ileostomies deal with the pathway of solid waste exiting the body, while a urostomy procedure redirects the trajectory of urine leaving the body. Instead of flowing through the bladder and urinary tract, a pathway is created from the kidneys to the abdomen, allowing urine to pass through. 

In many cases, this also includes removing the bladder damaged by disease, injury, or birth defects. Stomas are also created in the process of a urostomy.


A stoma is the opening in the abdomen where waste can exit the body. It is usually a small, round, and dark pink color once the surgical wounds have healed. The stoma is the site where waste can be collected and disposed of using pouches that one can wear discreetly against the body. 

Stomas require consistent care with proper equipment. While the stoma itself should not be painful, the skin around it can be sensitive and needs to be cared for properly to prevent infections or other complications. 

Ostomy Barriers

Ostomy barriers, also called ostomy wafers, help connect an ostomy pouch to a stoma while protecting the peristomal skin, the skin surrounding the stoma. The barrier is applied with adhesive and should fit comfortably and correctly to prevent damage to the peristomal skin and leakage from the pouch. 

Because all stomas are different, there are different types and sizes of ostomy barriers or wafers. It’s important to make sure that the proper barrier is being used, and that sometimes means a bit of trial and error untilyou find the right one. 

Here are some of the different types of ostomy barriers that are available. 



These barriers are produced to fit the most common sizes of stomas and are more uniform in shape and size than other types of barriers. If a pre-cut barrier fits a particular stoma, it can be applied immediately without additional preparation. However, not all stomas are the same size or shape, so a pre-cut barrier may not be the best choice. 


If the stoma is not perfectly circular or the size changes over time, like most stomas, a cut-to-fit barrier will work better than a pre-cut barrier. Most cut-to-fit barriers come with a design printed outside to help guide sizing and shape.This allows individuals to cut the barrier to fit the exact shape and size of the stoma before applying it to the peristomal skin. 


Moldable barriers are newer than the previous cut types. Instead of using scissors, the moldable barriers can be rolled and shaped to the exact size needed and are applied directly to the stoma. Moldable barriers tend to fit more snug and do a better job of preventing waste from coming in contact with peristomal skin. This means greater comfort and a longer time between replacing barriers. 

Floating Flange

Flange is another word for an ostomy barrier, with some slight differences. A floating flange allows a person to insert their fingertips between the skin and the barrier when connecting the pouch to the stoma. This can make the process easier and more comfortable, especially if the individual struggles with dexterity or the abdomen is soft or tender.

Medical Supplies from Allied USA

With a wide range of ostomy barriers to choose from, Allied USA can supply the necessary supplies to care for your or a loved one’s ostomy with confidence. 

Allied USA is dedicated to innovating and providing a broad portfolio of solutions to protect the environment and human health in sustainable and responsible ways. Contact us today to request a quote for your next order of medical supplies.