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

Ostomy Medical Tape


Mini Guide to Ostomy Supplies: Medical Tape
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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 without 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.

11 thoughts on “A Mini Guide to Ostomy Supplies: Medical Tape (w/ video)”

  1. Posted by: @dogtalkerer

     2 piece pancake failures with you guys seems higher, which suggests the question ; why? 

    I don’t know whether this is a statistical fact or not (it may appear that way because 2pc appliances are more popular), but anecdotally, I can say that a two-piece appliance may introduce more of an opportunity for leaks from one or more of the following reasons: 

    1) Heavy bags (i.e. one that’s full) will tug more on a 2pc appliance due to the extra leverage it has from the coupling. 

    2) The plastic coupling will not conform to the body like a 1pc system, so bending may create instances where the wafer lifts more. 

    3) 2pc appliances tend to get “caught" on things more easily (i.e. on a pant waist or belt). 

    That said, there’s no reason why someone can’t get reliable wear times with a 2pc. Appliance failures, when they happen, can happen regardless of whether a 1 or 2pc appliance is being used. 

  2. in this picture I have a leak that is migrating, just starting by the index finger.  the cut-to-fit bags have a wider transparent margin all around.   this visible indicator gave me a days notice that replacement was necessary, or replacement needed if kayaking more than 4 miles.  i went 2 days past this as a test.  a clear tape similar to microskin or better holding power than opsite would give me an addition day if wanted. say a sunday where I’m just sitting around.I feel bad  people have stinky leaks in public.with pancaking 85% – 90% of the time with my colostomy, pancake related failures have happened 4-5 times in 11ys.    those may have well been manufacturing tolerance problems or I did not spend enough time setting the flange to my skin.   2 piece pancake failures with you guys seems higher, which suggests the question ; why?     often my output is as thick as toothpaste from the refrigerator,  which mainly happens while I’m sleeping. 

  3. guess that depends on your own definition of Leak Prevention.   for me a leak is gas as well as liquid.    one always comes before the other.    in your picture below,  shows why I did not like the hollister taped flange.   my observations, this tape is useless to detrimental .a cloth tape has no ability to hold back gas or liquid as is clearly shown, also since that tape is not transparent, you have little to no early warning of a leak on its way.from my observations,  leaks are the #1 problem people face. 

    • @dogtalkerer

      I tend to define leaks and blowouts as two separate problems, with blowouts being a complete breach of stool outside of the perimeter of the wafer. 

      Blowouts should be rare to nonexistent.  Tape shouldn’t be used to prevent blowouts and blowouts point to a much larger problem.

      Leaks, on the other hand can vary from very minor to major (like the photo you posted) and can become a blowout if severe enough. 

      Certain tape can be used to prevent leaks (I.e. by applying added pressure to the after and helping to support extra weight of the appliance) and can sometimes help with blowouts depending on the tape that’s used.

      A gas leak or stool leak are still leaks, so the appliance needs to be able to withstand both. While leaks can be caused for different reasons, leak prevention at the appliance level should be the same. 

      I never rely on tape for leak or blowout prevention. Tape may be helpful, but it shouldn’t be what either makes or breaks an appliance’s reliability. 

      I have used tape strategically to help meningitis certain situations, but never use it for “everyday wear". 


  4. I found opsite doesn’t have the holding power as the cymed microskin film.   has limited abilities to block a leak.the hyafix is “"""Permeable to moisture and air"""" , so that doesn’t sound like a leak stop tape as well? does anyone use this as a leak stop?vegan,  did you test these for leak prevention or is this jest a general intro to tapes?

    • @dogtalkerer

      Tapes vary wildly depending on their application, so it’s up to the person using the tape to decide which product they’ll need to solve their problem. This article was more of an intro as not all tapes would be known to new patients.

      A tape I would use as a general wound covering would be vastly different from one I’d use as a wafer extender. 

      Interestingly enough, leak prevention can be enhanced by any tape (even porous ones) simply due to the fact that they apply more pressure to the wafer, which may be all you need. When I was treating a fungal infection, most of the underside of my wafer was unable to stick to the powder I was using, yet I never once had a leak in over a month because I used tape to secure the wafer. I’ll probably write about the experience with photos and all at some point. 

  5. 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!


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