What Are Wafer Extenders?
Wafer extenders (which are also referred to as flange extenders) can be a handy tool for an ostomate. They can be used for a variety of reasons and they are available in many different styles.
Wafer extenders can provide the following benefits:
- Helps to keep your ostomy appliance secure during physical activity.
- Can be used to protect the wafer from water.
- Can be used to protect the edges of your wafer from peeling.
How Wafer Extenders Are Usually Sold
There are many different styles and types of wafer extenders, but I’ll break down the most popular options to simplify it.
I’ve seen wafer extenders sold in three distinct categories: Films, tape and “elastic tape”. They are also sold in either full extenders, which would cover the entire wafer, or segments, which you can apply to a specific trouble spot on your wafer. Most wafers are waterproof, but some do not handle water well, so their edges will peel or become sticky and annoying, which defeats their purpose!
You can see the photos below that each type is very different from the next.
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How to Use Wafer Extenders
Each brand and style of wafer extender comes with its own special instructions, but they are all applied over the wafer so that the product extends beyond the edge of the wafer enough to create a good seal.
While you can apply a wafer extender at any time, most ostomates will prefer to use them with each appliance change, and they’ll leave them on until the next appliance change. I’ve found that films work best for this, as some of the tapes and flexible “tape” tend to start peeling or even dry up after several days of use. If you are careful, you might be able to remove the film or tape before you need to change your appliance, but it’s not recommended that you so (it’ll leave residue that’s hard to clean without compromising the wafer).
Tips When Using Wafer Extenders
- Sample these products from as many different suppliers as possible, since you may find that some are too difficult to use or may not even work very well.
- For products that come in smaller sections, use as few or as many as you like. If there’s a single spot on your wafer that tends to be problematic, you don’t need to cover the entire circumference of your wafer for the extenders to be of use.
- If you don’t have a wafer extender handy, you can use medical tape in a pinch. It would be used in the same way, but it’s not as convenient to apply.
Are Wafer Extenders Vegan-Friendly?
Most wafer extenders are free of animal ingredients, but some still do contain gelatin, so either check with your manufacturer or refer to my vegan/non-vegan ostomy supplies list HERE.
I’ve reviewed several wafer extenders, which you can read about HERE.