Moldable ostomy wafers aren’t as popular as they probably should be, but ConvaTec has been making them for many years now. In this review, I’ll be looking at their SUR-FIT Natura moldable wafers.
I purchased all the products in this review.
About ConvaTec SUR-FIT Natura
The moldable wafers from ConvaTec are just one of many (and I mean MANY) ostomy products offered by ConvaTec. It’s a natural extension of their flat and convex products, and it really is a unique product among them.
This product comes in both flat and convex varieties, so all ostomates are covered. And because it’s part of the Natura line of products, it also has a mechanical coupling to attach the bag to the wafer.
The Natura line of products, including these moldable wafers, are ideal for colostomates, ileostomates, and urostomates; you can get bags with drainage spouts that are more appropriate for urostomates.
I will point out that this plastic coupling is not a “floating flange”, which I will explain a bit further in the review, but ConvaTec does offer an “accordion flange” (a.k.a. “floating flange”) and a low-pressure adapter for people who prefer that style.
Also of note is that these wafers come with a white tape border, which some people may not like (both the color and style).
While these wafers come in both a regular wear and extended wear adhesive (Stomahesive and Durahesive respectively), I’ve only used the Durahesive products; neither are free of animal ingredients, so keep that in mind if that’s something you try to avoid.
The packaging is pretty standard for an appliance. There is a stoma measuring guide included with the wafers, although this probably isn’t required since they are moldable. I do like that the wafers are in their own sealed packages, but this also adds bulk to them (not as easy to travel with).
Both the bags and wafers come with instructions, but the bags also come with filter stickers; neither come with disposable bags, which is a bit of an inconvenience.
What exactly is a moldable wafer?
That’s a question I asked myself when I first heard about these. Traditionally, you have two types of wafers: pre-cut and cut-to-fit. I’m a huge fan of cut-to-fit products, as they allow me to measure and cut the right size for my changing stoma. On the flip side, many ostomates may find pre-cut wafers work well if their stoma stays at a consistent size.
Moldable wafers are in-between those two: it allows you to “mold-to-fit” around your stoma without the need for cutting or measuring.
You can see a demo of how this works in the video review above.
I was really excited to try these out!
Because I tend to always measure and cut my wafers, I found that it takes more time than it should to change my appliance. Not only that, but it’s way easier to travel with a pre-cut or moldable wafer, since you don’t need to bring scissors, a stoma measuring guide, pen, etc.
The tape border on this product is made of a white fabric, which I’m not too keen about. Most ostomy appliances use a beige-toned fabric, which blends into my skin, but white stands out quite a bit no matter how damn white my skin already is!
I do prefer tape borders on my wafers, so it’s nice to see on this appliance, but the thicker hydrocolloid center piece looks and feels less than ideal.
As you can see in the photo below, the transition between the hydrocolloid and tape border is not smooth, and it leaves a bump that’s also felt when wearing the appliance. Compared to the Hollister New Image line of products, which have seamless transitions, these could be improved upon.
One thing I found odd is that the wafer seems disproportionately larger than the flange. Not sure if that’s because of the moldable technology or to give it better support, but it does make things seem a little off. At 32mm, my stoma felt a little cramped in the 45mm flange, but it still fit just fine.
Using the moldable part couldn’t be easier. ConvaTec has a clear, plastic release liner on the back that allows you to roll the center of the wafer to the size you need. Once that’s done, you simply remove the liner and apply the wafer to your skin. ConvaTec suggests you press the portion around your stoma down to get a better fit.
The beauty of this system is that it doesn’t matter what shape or size your stoma is because the moldable tech will accommodate it. Even better is that this wafer will swell quite a bit more than any other I’ve seen, which further helps to prevent leaks and to get a better fit.
In ConvaTec’s own studies, they’ve found that a significant number of ostomates who tried these moldable wafers experienced better skin health as a result. [SOURCE]
In practice, while I do find that it helps to prevent leaks from under my wafer, it did not improve the health of the skin around my stoma. In fact, my skin was more raw after several weeks of wear than it was before I started.
Disappointing to say the least.
The Natura pouches I used for this review seemed pretty standard, that is , until closer inspection.
Unlike other brands, who tend to use (cheap) fabric to cover the back and/or front of the pouch, ConvaTec uses a unique plastic “fabric” instead.
It’s slightly squishy to the touch, and a little more durable than most fabrics, but it has a few flaws that really bothered me.
First, this material stretched and tore quite easily for me, which means that the bag not only looked like hell after a few days, but the pouch outlet wouldn’t stay up after the fabric tore up.
Secondly, the damn pouch stays wet forever after showers! I would have expected a plastic cover to dry pretty quick, but water seems to get trapped under the cover and it doesn’t properly evaporate from there.
I also find that the tape border looks and feels wet for longer than I’ve noticed on other appliances with tape borders.
The outlet is fairly easy to open and clean, and it doesn’t require any creasing like Hollister outlets do. This bag features a Velcro-like closure that rolls up and can be secured with a few gentle presses.
There’s an extra flap that acts as an additional “lock” for the closure. I’m honestly not sure if this extra flap has been added because the outlet isn’t secure enough on its own or simply just for some extra assurance.
Regardless of the reason, I found that flap a little awkward to use, especially when emptying the bag.
As I mentioned earlier, this appliance has a mechanical coupling to join the bag to the wafer. I found the coupling extremely difficult to snap together, and it required a lot of force to get it done – if I had just come out of surgery, this would NOT have been a pleasant experience.
ConvaTec does have another version of this wafer that has an “accordion flange”, which can make this much easier on the wearer, but it does seem to add more bulk to the system (I haven’t tried it yet, though).
I was extremely disappointed in the filters on these bags. They consistently leaked on me, which is something I’ve never experienced in any other product – ever.
This is a shame, as it means I’m either having to replace bags after only a day or I’m putting a sticker on it (defeating the purpose of having a filtered pouch).
If you plan on having a shower or getting wet while wearing these bags, you will have to put a filter sticker on them. This adds some inconvenience to daily wear, but it’s not uncommon to see this requirement in other appliances.
Overall, I would say this is a fairly solid system. The convenience of using a moldable wafer is apparent, however, there is one significant deal-breaker that prevents me from using this appliance more often: adhesive residue.
Wafers stick, that’s what they’re supposed to do, but wafers should also come off cleanly. This wafer leaves so much residue around the tape border perimeter that it takes an incredible amount of effort to remove it.
It also leaves quite a bit of residue under the wafer, which needs to be cleaned for me to even shave the area.
So while the moldable part might save me a few minutes, I have to waste so much time to remove it, negating the convenience factor.
Keep in mind that I do use adhesive remover products, so this is unacceptable to me. If I needed to do an emergency appliance change and had to battle this adhesive, I would imagine the situation would be far more stressful than it needs to be.
I still think there’s value in using moldable wafers, especially for people who struggle with leaks or who want to save money on extra supplies to manage leaks .
At the time of this writing (June 2016), a wafer costs approx CDN$86.09 per box of 10 and the bags go for approx. CDN$5.17 each. These are more expensive than many other ostomy systems, but if they save you from using barrier rings, then they’ll make up the difference.
ConvaTec will send samples, so try before you invest in these as they are sold in packages of 10 or 20 and it would be quite expensive to purchase them only for testing (like I did).
These products are also sold around the world.
While I see some tremendous value in using a moldable product, I don’t feel that this product is ideal for everyone.
There are several annoyances that add up to a less-than-ideal experience, but the time wasted removing this appliance really does make me second-guess wearing it again.
For more info, please visit ConvaTec at: www.convatec.com