Lingerie designer urges medical professionals to end stigmas associated with stoma surgery

Nicola Dames (centre, left) with her Vanilla Blush team.

The founder of Vanilla Blush, a Glasgow based lingerie firm specialising in ostomy underwear and swimwear, appeared on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday to help end the negative stigmas associated with ostomy surgery.

Speaking to presenter Kaye Adams, Nicola Dames called on surgeons, doctors and nurses to speak positively to patients about the benefits of ostomy surgery and having a stoma bag.

She was joined on the programme by Dr Daniel Gaya, a specialist in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and Elaine Steven, a Health Service Development Manager at Crohn’s & Colitis UK, to mark Crohn’s & Colitis awareness week.

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Dames, who launched Vanilla Blush online in 2008, two years after undergoing stoma surgery, said that having a stoma bag fitted was a life enabler.

“Colitis is a very debilitating and disfiguring disease and, actually, having the surgery allows you to live your life again. Maybe you have to make some changes in your fashion, but there is nothing too outlandish that you couldn’t look as normal as the next person.

“Folk who walk into my store are so incredibly embarrassed about [their stoma bag] and they only need to sit down and talk to someone that is incredibly positive about it to feel better.

“They need to be surrounded with more positive people, and that needs to start with the surgeons, the nurses etc. Everybody needs to be a bit more positive that it’s not a negative thing,” she continued.

Dames designs high-rise, vintage style knickers and bikini briefs with an internal pocket that is designed to conceal a stoma bag.

She opened the first boutique in Europe to specialise in ostomy underwear in Glasgow in April 2014.

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