New ostomy products get me excited, and nothing excites me more than a new ostomy appliance. I’ve been fortunate enough to be the first North American patient to use the new Flexima 3S by B. Braun, and I’m so happy to be finally able to present this review.
Disclaimer: B. Braun has provided me sample products to use for this review ahead of the official, North American product launch. As with all my other reviews, I’ve received no other compensation, and my opinions are purely my own.
If you’re interested in the video review, check it out below:
Products I’ve used for this review:
The Flexima 3S is the latest ostomy product line in the B. Bruan stoma care catalog. And who is B. Braun? Well, if you’re from North America, you’ve likely never heard of them, but are they are a huge medical devices manufacturer out of Germany, and they’ve been helping patients around the world for over 175 years!
I’ve been able to use their flat baseplates, and both the medium (midi) and large (maxi) opaque pouches, but you can also find closed, high-output, and urostomy pouches in the Flexima 3S line; all pouch styles are compatible with the 3S wafer I’ve been using.
The Flexima 3S is regular wear, semi-rigid wafer, and most ostomates can expect to have it on for about 3 days. I’m use to wearing extended-wear products, but even with those, I only get around 3-4 day wear time before my skin becomes itchy and sore.
I have used other regular wear products from both Coloplast and Hollister, and the Flexima 3S appears to outperform them in my experience. Going 3 days with relatively minimal erosion was really nice to see.
Edge peeling and wafer wrinkling is something that I tend to experience when using hydrocolloid wafers (not tape border products), and I’ve noticed some of it with this wafer, too.
Wrinkling can sometimes cause channelling under the wafer, and in some cases, this could result in a leak if you’re around water a lot, so I do recommend using a wafer extender to keep the Flexima 3S protected; I find that using wafer extenders eliminates this issue completely for me, but it may not be necessary for other ostomates.
Oddly enough, there is no cutting guide included in the box, so you’ll either need to use a previous cutout or guesstimate. Chances are you’ll have cutting guides lying around from other products you’ve used, but it would be nice to see these included in the package; I have been told that some distributors will receive cutting guides separately.
For the vegans out there: The flat, Flexima 3S wafers are free of animal-based ingredients.
The Flexima pouches I use feature an opaque cloth covering. If you’ve seen my Hollister New Image review, you’ll know that I’m really picky when it comes to the cloth quality used on pouches. I’d say that the Flexima pouches are between the Hollister New Image (worst cloth material I’ve seen) and the Coloplast Sensura Mio (best cloth material I’ve seen), which isn’t that bad. I found that the pouch dries relatively fast when wet, and there weren’t too many issues with it falling apart after 3 days (like Hollister fabric tends to do).
Emptying the pouch is pretty easy, and the Flexima 3S has a few features that are worth mentioning:
- The outlet opens easily and does not have any fabric near the tip (unlike the Coloplast Sensura/Assura drainable pouches), so it’s a breeze to clean.
- The tail of the outlet does not have sharp edges, so it won’t scratch if you wear your pouch under your clothing.
- The outlet is longer than what I’ve seen in other pouches, and that’s a good thing in my opinion. The longer outlet allows me to empty my pouch further down into the toilet, which reduces splashing.
- It’s quite easy to open the outlet, and it doesn’t require any fumbling or creasing to get it open; this is in stark contrast to the Hollister New Image drainable pouches, which most people would find frustrating to open without creasing the ends first.
B. Braun also offers an optional accessory belt for added support. This belt can be hooked onto the pouch, regardless of whether the pouch has been angled or not.
It should be noted that just like the omission of a cutting guide with the wafers, the pouches do not come with disposal bags.
If there’s one thing that I tend to focus on when trying any new pouching system, it’s the filter. My past experience with filters has been mostly negative, since I find that they clog quickly and become useless for preventing pouch ballooning.
The Flexima 3S pouches use LT (short for: laminar technology) filters, and I’m happy to say that ballooning was rare, and it’s never gotten to a point where I felt uncomfortable, or experienced a leak because of it. This is a pleasant surprise, and I’m quite happy to see that B. Braun has done a wonderful job with this filter.
However, it must be said that the filter does have one minor flaw: you must protect the outer filter covering from water or it will clog. This is a common problem for most filters, and the Hollister AF300 filter (on New Image pouches) is one of the rare few that don’t have this need. To remedy this, B. Braun includes large stickers to put over the filter before you hop in the shower or hit the pool. The stickers do work well, and they aren’t that inconvenient to use, but that assumes that you’ll remember to use them in the first place!
Something else I noticed is that the positioning of the filter on the pouch reduces the chance of “rabbit-ears”, as I like to call it. “Rabbit-ears” happens when a filter becomes saturated and droops forward; this can cause the pouch to be more noticeable under clothing, too.
If there is one feature that really makes the Flexima 3S different from anything else I’ve seen, I’d say it’s the coupling mechanism. This two-piece system has a built-in guide that makes connecting the pouch “fool-proof”, and can help if you’re unable to get good visibility of your wafer when applying the pouch; The guiding system also helps to align the pouch with your flange if you’ve got dexterity issues.
The guiding system also allows you to position your pouch at three different angles, and it comes with a really great locking mechanism that’s easy to use and enhances the pouches security. You could also rotate the pouch horizontally and use it without the guiding system or lock, since it’ll still snap into place like most other mechanical couplings would. While you can stick the wafer on horizontally, it is a bit awkward in that position, and it’s not recommended.
The lock is a nice thing to have if you find that your pouch has come off or separated during certain activities (or when climbing down a ladder – you know who you are :) ), and it’s easier to engage compared with the Coloplast Sensura Click two-piece systems.
While these unique features can greatly enhance this pouching system, it does create a little extra bulk that some ostomates may not like.
I’ve worn this appliance with several different accessories, wraps and ostomy belts, and the extra bulk from the coupling did not interfere with most accessories, but there were a few that work better with appliances that don’t have locking mechanisms (i.e. the Nu-Comfort belt by Nu-Hope or the Ostomy Resolutions stoma guard).
At the time of this writing (Sept 2015), the B. Braun Flexima 3S system is available through select distributors, and pricing of the pouches and wafers are similar to what you’d expect from a top-tier brand. With the addition of the North American market, these products are available globally, and you can request samples through B. Braun and select distributors.
The B. Braun Flexima 3S ostomy system is a strong contender, and it offers unique features that set it apart from other products out there. I would recommend that any ostomate try the Flexima 3S, especially if they feel that their current pouching system lacks in security or filter capabilities.
For North Americans, this is an exciting product line that I believe can hold up to any other brand on the market.