Cold Hands Embalming Tip of the Week
We are excited to collaborate with Cold Hands and Monica Torres, renowned licensed funeral director, embalmer, cremationist, cosmetic reconstructive specialist, desairologist, and owner/founder of NXT Generation Mortuary Support! Every week Connecting Directors will now share “Cold Hands Embalming Tip of the Week,” which Monica posts each Sunday afternoon to her Instagram channel@coldhandshosts.
Cold Hands Embalming Tip of the Week: Use autopsy gel to pack colostomy bag
Surface gel (a.k.a. autopsy gel) is a “jelly-like” surface preservative. These incredible scientific wonders typically come in two viscosities. One can be poured or brushed on and the other is thick and similar to the consistency of hair gel. Both can be used in a variety of ways to aid in the surface preservation of adipose tissue, muscle or skin.
These products are such powerhouses and should never be confused with formalin surface creams. The penetration capabilities are intense and they are no doubt one of the most powerful products I carry in my kit.
I do not use this technique on every case. Rather, I do what is best for the particular case at hand. I have encountered ostomy stomas that were quite large and almost impossible to stitch tightly enough to guarantee a leak free seal. In instances such as this a non traditional approach has worked well for me. The seal on the colostomy bag to skin is generally better than any stitch. Scar tissue around the stoma edges can make closure with needle & thread a gamble. Here is a useful alternative to traditional methodology.
Rather than removing the colostomy bag from the decedent, I clean out the bag with anti microbial soap and waterjust as they would in life. I remove any excrement or urine and DISINFECT the bag with disinfectant spray. Once the bag is cleaned 🧼 and disinfected I pack the bag and stoma with autopsy gel and a half dollar sized amount of cotton and add a tiny bit of sealing powder. I then reclose the bag and voila! Dignity is preserved for the decedent and my job as an embalmer to disinfect and preserve the body is complete.
I make sure and aspirate the cavity extremely well to prevent the opportunity for gas build up in the bag. I always make sure that there is no air left in the bag before closure. This technique should be avoided if possible with obese or other such hard cases.
Hope you like this weeks Desairology tip! Until next week…Happy Embalming! ⚰️
Deathcare professionals: To gain online support for the embalming tips, visit Cold Hands Answers at
NXT Generation Mortuary Support offers ongoing online continuing education opportunities for deathcare professionals! Next up is Embalming the Infant Death – Advanced Techniques for Infants, Stillborn and the Unborn on May 6, 2021, for which you can register here.