A Mini Guide to Ostomy Supplies: Medical Tape (w/ video)



What is Medical Tape?

Medical tapes are used in a wide range of applications when it comes to having an ostomy. The most common use is as a wafer extender, which helps to secure your appliance with out the need to use an accessory belt.

How Medical Tape is Usually Sold

Medical tape is commonly sold in rolls of varying lengths and widths, although you may find tape strips for specific applications.

Medical tape
As you can see, tape comes in several shapes and sizes! From left to right: 3M Soft Cloth tape, Hy-Tape, Opsite Flexifix, 3M Transpore (bottom)
Comparing medical tape
Each tape is unique! From left to right: 3M Soft Cloth tape, Hy-Tape, 3M Transpore, Opsite Flexifix

Because medical tape can be used in so many ways, they also come in a huge selection of material: fabric, waterproof, breathable, stretchy, stiff, easy to remove, clear, opaque, etc.

Pricing for tape can vary wildly depending on the material used, or even by the size and length of the roll. I find that because tape can be cut to size, buying wider rolls and cutting it in half can save a bit of money. Many insurance companies cover medial tape.

Purchase on Amazon

You can purchase medical tape on Amazon (affiliate links): USA | CANADA

How to Use Medical Tape

Medical tapes are commonly used to hold wound dressing in place, but in the context of having an ostomy, we can get pretty creative!

Here are some of the things I’ve used medical tape for:

As a wafer extender:

Yup, you can absolutely use medical tape to replace traditional wafer extenders, however the results may vary considerable and they may not be as effective as commercial wafer extenders.  If you go this route, it’s important to pick the right tape for the job: do you need tape that’s waterproof? Flexible? Breathable? Do you want it to have weak or strong adhesive properties?  For wafer extenders, I tend to use something like the Opsite Flexifix, which is a thin, flexible and waterproof film.

Pink tape used to "picture frame" around my wafer as a DIY wafer extender.
Pink tape used to “picture frame” around my wafer as a DIY wafer extender.

To keep my pouch flat and close to my skin:

You can use regular medical tape to keep the top of your wafer from sagging when your filter has been clogged.  You can also use tape to secure the bottom of your pouch, although I’d rather use an ostomy wrap if I wan to keep my appliance secure.

As a protective barrier under my wafer:

This is an extremely useful trick that has come in handy for me when using specific wafers.  The idea is to apply a layer of film tape (like Opsite Flexifix or 3M Tegaderm) to your skin before applying the wafer so it protects your skin from being cut by the edge of your wafer.  I’ve dedicated an entire post and video to this trick, which you can find HERE.

Tips When Using Medical Tape

  • Some tapes are hard to remove, so use an adhesive remover if you find that you’re tearing out skin and hair when removing tape.
  • Some types of tape aren’t meant to be worn for the entire life of your appliance (3-5 days).

Are Medical Tapes Vegan-Friendly?

Tapes may or may not have animal-based ingredients. Most are made using chemical adhesives, but it’s best to check with the manufacturer if you have doubts.  I’ve put together a list of vegan and non-vegan ostomy products that can be found HERE.


Leave a Reply

newest oldest
Tara Cullen
Tara Cullen

I have a retracted stoma and use convex wafers from Coloplast Sensura. I found I would always have trouble with sticking, especially in the shower. I tried those expensive tapes made for ostomates, and also a film that ostomates on a message board liked. I hated both- I found the film made everything worse- not breathable, water would somehow get in during a shower, even just a drop but then it would eat away at the skin.
For the past decade I’ve sworn by hypafix medical tape (I’m in Canada too but it looks like your 3M tape above. It’s easy to apply, has some give to it, breathable, doesn’t leave adhesive, allergenic, and is so cheap! 1 roll cost $16 and it lasts me 13 months changing a pouch every 2-4 days. I can’t recommend hypafix highly enough!