Whether you’re new to using ostomy supplies or if you have been a seasoned ostomate for some time now, you are probably aware of the wide variety of ostomy supplies and accessories available on the market today. It’s great that there are so many options available to help suit one’s individual needs, but you might still be looking for the right products to fit your needs.
Here at 180 Medical, we like to make sure you have correct and up-to-date information on your product options, so in today’s blog post, we shed some light on what wafers, or skin barriers, are all about and how the right one for you can make a big difference in your ostomy experience.
What Is a Wafer?
Ostomy pouching systems are offered in two main options: a one-piece system or a two-piece system. In a one-piece system, the wafer and pouch are all in one, which can be best for those who don’t have to change out their pouches as often. For instance, many ostomates using urostomy supplies may find they don’t have to change out their pouch as often, because many prefer to use drainable bags for their needs.
In a two-piece system, the wafer and pouch are separate from one another, which allows for quicker changing of your ostomy pouch. It’s an easier system for those who utilize closed pouches versus drainable or for those who change their ostomy pouches more frequently, as it as it reduces the wear on skin from removing and reapplying the adhesive wafer too often.
What Types of Wafers Are Available?
Because stoma sizes and shapes vary from person to person, there are three main types of wafers currently available on the market:
- Pre-cut wafers: These are manufactured for the most common sizes for circular stomas. No cutting or alterations needed on these, but not everyone’s stoma is a common size or shape.
- Cut-to-fit wafers: These wafers come with varying sizes printed directly on them, which serve as a guide to allow you to cut your own opening to fit your individual stoma size and shape. This is a great option for those who are in between sizes or have an irregular stoma shape.
- Moldable Wafers: This is the newest technology on the market today. Moldable wafers provide the same benefits as the cut-to-fit wafers with some additional conveniences. They are made out of a flexible, stoma-safe material which allows you to roll the material back snugly with your thumbs or fingers to the right size and shape for your needs — no scissors required! After the wafer, or skin barrier, is molded, it is placed on the skin around the stoma, just as with all wafers, except the moldable technology allows the material to fit more snugly around the stoma (this process is called “turtle-necking”). This provides maximum comfort and helps to prevent those leakage issues that everyone wants to avoid with their ostomy system.
Flat Vs. Convex Wafers
Just as every individual has their own unique stoma size and shape, everyone will have some difference in protrusion lengths. While some may have a significant protrusion from the skin, others might have a stoma that lays flat with the skin or even retreats a little bit into their body.
For those whose stomas protrude from the body more than a quarter of an inch, the best wafer will typically be a flat variation of the wafer. This type of wafer is very flexible in order to accommodate the contours of one’s body. For those whose stomas are flat to the skin or more shallow, there may be more leakage issues, since the stoma isn’t protruding enough to empty efficiently into the pouch, which can cause effluent to leak underneath the wafer and even irritate skin.
For shorter stoma protrusions, or for the stomas that lay flat or retreat inwards from the skin, the better option may be a convex wafer, which positions the hole in the center of the wafer in a bowl shape. This creates a protrusion around the stoma so it will drain cleanly and efficiently into the pouch without leakage. Convex wafers, however, are not as flexible as flat wafers, but they can save a lot of time and trouble for those with shorter stomas or more rounded abdomens.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact one of our highly-trained Ostomy Specialists during business hours at 1-877-688-2729. We’ll be happy to help you find the right ostomy products and accessories for your individual needs and preferences.