Whether you’re looking to protect your ostomy wafer from water, or to just get a more secure fit, wafer extenders have been a popular choice for many ostomates. They come in various sizes and styles, depending on the brand you go with, but I find that the most secure products are the clear, thin films that go on as one piece. Aqua Seal by Costa Medical, is the wafer extender that I’ll be reviewing today, based on my experience using samples that had been sent to me.
Aqua Seal rings are a cut-to-fit product, so a single size can be used on just about any ostomy appliance. The product is made using Tegraderm by 3M, so it has a good reputation for being skin-friendly and strong, and it’s currently sold in 6″ rings.
The Aqua Seal rings come with release liners on the top and bottom, and each liner is cut so you can peel back half at a time. Only one side of the film is adhesive, and that side is marked on the release liner.
Because they are made of a thin film, they can easily be stored in your ostomy travel pack without taking up too much space.
The Aqua Seal rings can be applied at any time, but I generally use them before I put on my pouch during an appliance change. If you use a one-piece or already have your two-piece pouch attached to your wafer, you can still apply the Aqua seal, provided you cut a hole big enough to feed the pouch through. As noted before, this product is cut-to-fit, so you’ll need to make sure that you cut the inner circle large enough to go over your flange (the part that connects the wafer to your pouch) and any belt clips/attachments that might be on your wafer. Cutting this hole can be tricky, since there are no guide lines (like what you’d find on the back of your wafer), but I found that tracing an appropriate-sized hole first can make things easier.
It’s important to make sure that if you’re going to trim the outer portion of the ring, to make sure you don’t cut it too short: there has to be enough of the Aqua Seal to go over the edge of your wafer and onto your skin. I found that the only part I needed to trim was a small section near my belly button. Depending on the location of your stoma, this may or may not be necessary.
Applying the Aqua Seal can be tricky, but with some practice, it gets easier. I found there are two ways that work for me, and either way effectively prevented water from getting to my wafer. I do recommend using a mirror to make things easy to see (I use a hands-free, tabletop mirror).
Method #1 (apply as one piece):
This is the most common way, but also the more difficult of the two methods. In this method, you peel back a small portion of the release liner on the marked side.; This is the side that will be sticking to your skin. I found that trying to remove too much of the release liner at once causes the film to curl and stick to itself. So once part of the release liner had been peeled, apply the Aqua Seal over your wafer and against your skin, peeling more the release liner as you go. You’ll want to do this until the entire Aqua Seal is on, then remove the top release liner. You can run your fingers over the Aqua Seal to make sure that it’s forming a good seal.
If you’re using a two-piece appliance, put your pouch on now.
Here’s a video where you can see this method in action:
Method #2 (apply as two pieces):
I tried this method to see if it still keeps a good seal, and found that it not only does, but it was easier to apply too. You may want to use this method if you’re using a one piece, or if you already have a two-piece pouch on, but it will work well with any configuration.
For this method, I cut the Aqua Seal in half and apply each half separately, making sure to overlap the ends of each half. This would be how other wafer extenders are applied, but it works quite a bit better with Aqua Seals since the thin film leaves no gaps when you overlap it.
I’ve been able to remove this product without adhesive remover, but it does help to use an adhesive remover spray if you have really sensitive skin or if you’re doing a full appliance change. If you need to remove the Aqua Seal before it’s time to change your wafer, starting by from the inner part of the ring and peel out without using an adhesive remover! Doing it that way will minimize your wafer coming off too, but I can’t guarantee that this will work with all wafers. I use the Aqua Seal while wearing Coloplast Xpro wafers, and those have a harder plastic; wafers with tape borders or very soft plastic may cause the Aqua Seal to stick too much, making it difficult to remove. If you find that happens with your wafer, then I’d recommend leaving the Aqua Seal on for the duration of your appliance.
I was pleasantly surprised at how gentle the Aqua Seals were on my skin. With other, similar products, I’d usually start to get irritation under the seal after a few days, but I wore the Aqua Seal rings for three days at a time (the entire length I wore my wafer), and for multiple wafer changes, so over two weeks without an issue. That said, I wore the Aqua Seal during many showers, and even when it wasn’t applied perfectly, the seal was never compromised.
I have no doubt that the Aqua Seal would protect my wafer during any kind of water activity, including swimming or a hot tub.
As for comfort, I’d say that I did notice the product on me, but the feeling was one of having more security with my wafer, not discomfort, and that’s a good thing.
At the time of this writing (Sept 2014), the Aqua Seal rings can be purchased for approx. US$17.50, and includes 10 per pack. The product is distributed mainly in the United States, but Costa Medical does offer international shipping. You’d have to check with your insurance policy to see if this product is covered. Currently, sample packs are offered through Costa Medical, but they aren’t free.
This type of product isn’t a necessity for all ostomates, but if you experience problems when getting your wafer wet, or if you’d like a more secure fit without the need for an ostomy accessory belt, then this is a product to try.
Updated: June 2, 2015