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Vintage Ostomy Supplies

Ever wondered what the older ostomy bags were like? Well, thanks to KevinM I can now bring you pics of those old torture weapons. Kevin's stoma nurse bought a collection of vintage bags and wafers to one of his local ostomy meetings and he took these pictures for us. Kev has no explanations to go with these pics so I've put my own in where I can - others just have no words to describe them! If you happen to read this and can add an explanation as to how some were used, please email me at so I can add that explanation here.

The pics go to show, ostomy appliances have sure come a long way, thank goodness!

Comments From Carl (aka Hurkaru around the Message Boards):
My original faceplate (1959) looked much like the one 2nd from the top on the extreme right. It was red rubber and glued on with rubber cement. Its top profile was much like the one 2nd from the left in the same row, but without metal hooks. The bag was also red rubber, sized and shaped much like modern bags, but with no drainage at the bottom. It was held onto the faceplate by two rings, one under the gasket on the top of the faceplate and one under a similar gasket on the bag, which screwed together to make a seal. Emptying involved unscrewing the bag ring, dumping the contents through the hole, rinsing, or cleaning the gasket portions, including the one on the faceplate, and screwing the whole thing back together again. Of course, that left the stoma exposed during the process, so it had to be covered with tissue to (hopefully) prevent spillage. Naturally there were "those times" between removing or reattaching the bag and the application/removal of the tissue--nuf said.

The screw rings were originally plastic (lucite) which was very brittle. This meant that the threads broke easily, and then would not screw together tightly enough to make a good seal, or would fail completely. I finally had a machinist copy the rings in bronze (yes--this made the whole thing even more HEAVY and bulky than before) but at least those parts didn't fail anymore.

The complete assemblage was held on by a belt with hooks and a ring that went around the faceplate outside the screw rings.

You might wonder about wear time and skin care issues. Well, those things your are probably thinking are true. Excellent wear time was 24 hours. I think I got 2 days once or twice. I was lucky in that, because my stoma location is on a fairly flat spot on my lower right abdomen with no natural folds right there. Skin care was pretty minimal, and sores the rule, not the exception. The only skin care products I knew of were karaya powder, and tincture of benzoin, so that's what I used--on a daily basis. (While now I have minimal skin problems, I still use these products--they really work for me).

After removing the face plate, I washed the area and peeled off the remaining rubber cement from it and from my skin (ouch!). I then dried everything off and dusted karaya powder over the covered area. If there were sore spots (very common) I dabbed extra karaya on them. Following that, I painted benzoin over the entire area, using a cotton swab stick (both these products burn when put on sore spots). While this was drying (I used an ordinary fan blowing on it) I coated the skin side of the face plate with rubber cement--using my finger. After that I coated my skin with rubber cement (often also burned when applying over any sores). I then put on the faceplate--held it in place for a half minute or so, and then screwed on the bag and attached the belt with the holding ring. Don't forget that during all this time--5-10 minutes usually, not counting shower time--there was a high likelihood of stoma activity with the possibility of having to start over--not to mention the mess. I developed fairly effective techniques using tissue to keep these problems to a minimum.

One company produced an in-bag deodorant, but it smelled like an over-chlorined swimming pool, and caused really bad skin burns, so I quit using that very quickly. Bag deodorizing really meant thorough rinsing and washing with soap at change time.

Virtually all this I had to learn by myself. The nurses in the hospital itself were fairly helpful while I was there, and had a little experience, but not at lot. BTW--the best ones there were a couple of (cute- -hey, I was 22 at the time) Aussies in the US for training. While there may have been a few ET's in the world back then, I never heard of them. There were absolutely no support systems in place.

I used this system for almost 10 years, including 8 years of married life. I changed when I had to have my stoma revised and some nasty adhesions removed. Regrettably, my equipment got lost in the hospital. I wish I still had it for history's sake.

I hope this helps with understanding.

Pics of Old Ostomy Appliances

PS I think all of these are pre-1970's but I could be wrong.

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If you would like to use any of the images in these pages, please email me to get permission. Thanks.

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