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—  Medical Design     Industrial Design     Human-centered Design  —


A better designed colostomy bag that brings back diginity for patients

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Derived from the name chameleon, Cameo is a compact ostomy bag design that expands when user needs more capacity. The design features discreet patterns that disguise waste and a foldable opening for easy drainage.

Cameo tackles an unique challenge in the world of medical design: How we do design a better patient experience for the “invisible diseases”?


the hidden Truth behind Ostomy

An ostomy pouching system is a prosthetic medical device collects waste from a surgically diverted system (stoma). 

There are more than 450,000 patients in the U.S. who have to wear ostomy bags on a daily basis. It’s a social taboo that people rarely talk about because it deals with human waste. Most current ostomy bag designs further stigmatize the disease and severely affect patient quality of life because they are visually unpleasing and hard to use. 


Understanding Ostomies

In order to design a better ostomy bag, I first need to understand the different kinds of surgical procedures. My goal is to create a design that is suitable for colostomy, ileostomy as well as urostomy since the users will face similar usability problems.



In a colostomy operation, part of your colon is brought to the surface of your abdomen to form the stoma.

A part of your small intestine called the ileum is brought to the surface of your abdomen. Stools in this part of the intestine are generally fluid.

An isolated part of the intestine is brought onto the surface of the of your abdomen. The ureters are detached and reattached to the isolated section of the intestine.

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What's currently Available?

Ostomy bags may include a one-piece or two-piece system. Both kinds include a skin barrier/wafer and a collection pouch. The barrier/wafer is designed to protect the surrounding skin. Pouches can be either open-ended or sealed at the bottom.



Empathic Exercise

It’s hard to imagine wearing a plastic waste bag that has to be replaced once a day for the rest of your life. To get a sense of how difficult that would be, I asked a couple participants to try wearing ostomy bags for a couple days. Many of them were frustrated by the whole experience.


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Design Opportunities

After talking to participants about their experience with wearing ostomy bags. We sat down together, listed all the pros and cons of current ostomy bag design, and came up areas to focus on.



Most ostomy bags are big, patients have to wear them even when they don’t have active bowl movement.

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Clear pouches help patients monitor how full their bags are, but the exposure of waste looks unpleasing.


Draining the pouch is a hard task for many patients. If not done properly, the process gets messy easily.

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The surrounding skin gets infected if the cleaning is not done properly.

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Sketch, prototype, iterate.

In my sketches I explored different ways of attaching the pouch to the skin barrier and how to make the connection water-tight. I also considered other aspects such as aesthetic and easy instruction. Sketches were then trasnlated into prototypes to test out my theories.


Final Concept

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The pattern not only disguises the waste, it also gradually fades out towards the top. The gradient reveals the waste when bag is full and alerts user to change the pouches promptly.


Foldable Drainage

With a secure velcro attachment, the tube extends below the crotch when it unfolds, allowing user to easily drain their waste without spilling on their pants.

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The user can easily expand the ostomy bag by pulling the tab. The extra volume can be used during emergency and it saves user from unnecessary embarrassment.