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Tips and Tricks to Avoid Ostomy Pancaking

OstomyLife Co-Moderator
11/21/18  9:22 AM PST

A common issue ostomates face is pancaking. It can sometimes feel like you have tried everything with no luck. But don’t give up! I have compiled this troubleshooting guide based on my experience as an ostomate and dealing with my fair share of pancaking. Give these tips a try to limit pancaking in your pouch.

What is pancaking?

Pancaking is a term often used when describing ostomy output sticking to the bag at the stoma site and not falling down as it should. This causes the stool to form around the wafer and “smoosh” itself into the shape of a pancake.

Pancaking can be a hassle! I get it often because I have a colostomy which is more likely then an ileostomy to pancake because the stool is thicker. I also tend to wear tight pants with my pouch tucked into them – preventing stool from sliding down to the bottom of my bag. I’m going to be honest with you, my stool almost never falls into my bag on its own, I have to guide it with one method of another. So how do I manage?

Dress for Success

  • Loose fitting pants with a tight waistband. I find that dressing for my ostomy is helpful for many situations including the prevention of pancaking. Loose fitting pants with a tight waistband can be beneficial. Make sure to have the waistband sit just above the stoma, applying pressure to the top of the bag. This and more leg room will encourage the stool to fall properly. Scrub pants work well for me at work because the waistband applies pressure and the pants are loose, allowing the stool to fall down.
  • Tuck in your bag. Also, folding the top part of your bag down and tucking it into the waistband can limit the space available for pancaking. This also helps keep the stool from accumulating around the filter – preventing a clog.

When all of this fails, and sometimes it does fail, the crease is my bag has usually done its job of protecting my filter and top of my bag. Then I can just go into the restroom, squeeze the sides of my bag, and run my fingers along the pouch to squeeze the stool down. I also sometimes use a flat “karate-chop hand” and slide it down the front of the bag gently. But when doing this, I am careful not to put a large amount of force on the bag because this could compromise the seal by squeezing stool under the wafer. I slowly and carefully push the stool down a little at a time. It is important to just try and push whats on the outside of the wafer, not the stool that’s inside the flange circle. To deal with the stool inside the flange circle, I gently us my finger to guide it down into the bag, then squeeze it down as before.

Convex Wafers

When it comes to pancaking, some ostomates say that convex wafers cause more pancaking. Because convex wafers are curved to place pressure around the stoma, the thought it that stool can pool in the “cup” created by this shape. I find though, that pancaking is more of an issue of the stool spreading to the bag surrounding and sticking to the flange circle, creating a short stack you didn’t order.

When I first got my ostomy, pancaking was a problem and caused frequent leaks. This occurred until I began using convex wafers. I find that my convex barrier prevents leaks when pancaking occurs and creates a good enough seal to allow me to gently squeeze the stool down.

Other Tips and Tricks

When I was having major pancaking and leaking issues, nurses were still coming to my home regularly. While helping me adjust after surgery my nurses taught me some tricks:

  • Inflate the pouch. If your pouch does not have a filter, blow air into the bag and pull the walls apart from eachother before putting it on. This puffs the bag out so that the stool can fall to the bottom. If the bag is collapsed, it prevents stool from falling down.
  • Add toilet paper. If your pouch has a filter, inflating the pouch won’t work because air will leak from the filter causing it to collapse. Roll up a small piece of toilet paper and insert it into the bag. Roll into a little tube like a pie crust comes rolled up in a box – this keeps the bag open, allowing stool to fall properly.
  • Lubricate. Laura recommends lubricating your pouch. You can use things like baby oil or olive oil as long as these don’t compromise you seal or decrease your wear time. To prevent this from occurring when lubricating your pouch, try using a commercial lubricating deodorant made specifically for ostomies: Adapt, Adapt purse size, Brava, and Lubricating gel deodorant. When lubricating your pouch make sure that you are evenly distributing the lubricating drops around the pouch to ensure it is slippery. Try to get the gel around the wafer site as well as down into the pouch. You can do this by smooshing the pouch up in you hands with the drops inside and manipulating it around. Laura also recommends increasing your fluid and fiber intake to help make your output less sticky and prevent the stool from being able to stick to the bag.
  • Cover your filter. Eric from Vegan Ostomy says that sometimes a filter can work so well that it “pulls at” the bag trying to rid it of any gas, creating a vacuum within the bag. If this is occurring, it will certainly cause pancaking by almost vacuum-packing the stool around the stoma site as it comes out. If you think this could be the case with your filter, Eric suggests covering the filter on the outside of the bag with a sticker or a piece of tape to prevent the vacuuming situation. Then, if gas accumulates in your bag, you can simply remove the tape for it to be filtered out and recover it after.
  • Try a different pouch. If you have tried everything and still can’t avoid pancaking, you may want to look into changing the type of bag you use. A different appliance may have a less active filter, a more slippery inside, or different material that prevents pancaking of your stool.
  • Ostomy Liners. Colo-Majic is a plastic bag that goes inside your ostomy and fans out around the flange. You then clip your bag to the flange over the bag rim and the bag sits inside your pouch to collect the stool, leaving the pouch clean. Although I have not personally used this product, I think it might be worth a try. It seems like this would work because of the product’s hourglass shape. The top part of the liner bottlenecks, and the liner slides down into your pouch, with no room for it to slide up. If you are feeling adventurous, give it a shot. This product is also flushable!!! So you can flush your poo, not throw it in the trash at a friends house where their dog can pull in out and chew it open right in the living room… ahem.

I hope this long list of ideas contains something that can help you out!

Happy Ostomy-ing,


You can find more articles and videos about living with an ostomy below:

Serving Medicare Ostomates Nationwide
For the past few months, I've found my stool has been pasty and sticky. Please tell me what to do to prevent ostomy "pancaking" from sticky stool.
The first thing I would suggest is to make sure you're drinking enough fluids throughout the day.
Drinking fluids will help make stool less sticky ...

Recent OstomyLife


    1. Hi Mandee! Thank you for your comment and your question. We asked Kelsey, and she recommended her article about Dressing with an Ostomy, where she addresses wearing jeans. She also added, “If you are asking more specifically about low-rise jeans or something like that I can speak further, but I don’t wear these nor do I think they are at all ostomy friendly.” We hope that helps! Best of luck! -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

  1. As a follow up to dressing with an ostomy, these tips do not seem useful for me either because I’m male or the location of my stoma. It is almost perpendicular to my belly button and as a businessman, I often wear suits or dress jeans where the waistline does not come anywhere near my stoma (I would have to Steve Urkel it, which I would not do). I am extremely concerned about how a man in a suit and tie is supposed to check his bag for pancaking failures (as they cause blowouts for me constantly) consistently enough in a work environment without having to go to the bathroom every 45 minutes to untuck my shirt and physically look at it. Open to any ideas on this one.

  2. Just wondering if this is something to be concerned about. The week or so, my stool causes pancaking like crazy! I’ve had issues with my output being too hard, too watery, but now it’s so soft that Im having to clean my bag, stoma and flange from the top every time. This is a new problem for me. Should I be concerned? My doctor says that any change in stoma output should be reported. It’s also worse when I exercise, go for long walks or long drives. Hope someone can help me.

    1. Hi, Lorraine. Thank you for your comment! According to our OstomyLife Facebook community page some causes of your pancaking can be:
      1. Dehydration. Try drink water with electrolytes instead of plain water.
      2. Menses is known to cause changes in stool consistency.
      3. One ostomate eats chocolate and drinks caffeine to thin out their stool when it is too thick.
      4. It could be related to other foods consumed or constrictive clothing.
      I hope this helps and wish you the best!
      -Sarah at Shield HealthCare

  3. Great advice for pancaking,i`ve tried three different bags with leaked due to pancaking,one i use now with a wafer still pancakes but does not leak,i wondered about lube so i`ll give it a try,Thanks for the advice so good to find a site like this

  4. Lorraine. I love coffee, but it will fill your bag FAST! It seems to bypass food I have eaten, as food exits(thicker) much later. Ergo, I drink 1-2 cups in the am & dump it out before taking off for the day. Fear not, the consistency of your output changes constantly & it’s normal. It’s when you are obstructed(no output), you’ll go to the ER.
    As an Avid hiker, I eat a low ash light snack in the am, no caffeine. Sip(gulping fills my bag) my hydration mix & wear a stealth belt. 75% thru my hike, I eat a PBJ(in which I mix Propass). I go 5+ hrs w/o dumping the output. Sitting in a car will make your stoma more active.
    Last, please be careful in exercise. I developed a small Prolapse & hernia. They DON’T go away!

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