Moldable wafers aren’t too common, but both ConvaTec and Hollister offer their own unique versions of this category of product. In this review, I’ll be looking at Hollister’s FormaFlex product!
This review is based on products I purchased following the trial of a few free samples that I requested through Hollister customer service. Hollister had to exchange some of the ones I purchased as noted later in the review.
Table of Contents
About the Hollister FormaFlex Wafers
Product I’ve used:
Product name: New Image Flat FormaFlex Skin Barrier
Product #: 14103
Size: 57mm flange w/ 43mm opening.
Quantity per package: 5 per box
The FormaFlex by Hollister is a moldable, extended wear ostomy wafer that doesn’t need to be cut and is designed to fit around nearly any size or shape of stoma. This style of wafer is also commonly called a “shape-to-fit” product.
These wafers are compatible with Hollister New Image pouches, and it has a similar look to their Flextend wafers (including the CeraPlus versions).
Like other Hollister New Image products, the FormaFlex has a tape border and floating flange.
Currently, there is no convex option, and I doubt that there will be as flush/recessed stomas would be difficult to fit around.
What Is a Moldable Wafer?
A moldable wafer offers the convenience of a pre-cut wafer while allowing the precision of a cut-to-fit. The beauty of a moldable product is that you don’t have to cut anything to get the right fit – it simply stretches out and hugs around your stoma. Like magic!
The main feature that really got me excited to try the FormaFlex was that I wouldn’t have to measure my stoma or cut my wafer with each appliance change; this not only saves some time but can be really handy in an emergency when fumbling to trace your stoma isn’t something you want to be doing.
FormaFlex can also be a huge time-saver when it comes to applying a wafer around an irregularly shaped stoma or one that’s still changing size or shape since it’s often quite challenging to get a good cut out directly onto the wafer.
But saving time isn’t usually why someone would use moldable wafers; preventing leaks is one major reason, too!
Since the point of using moldable wafers is to get the best fit possible around your stoma without needing to cut your wafer to the desired size, I was curious to see how it would work for me.
I found that not only do I get a pretty damn good fit with FormaFlex, I also notice that it “swells” around my stoma much more than regular wafers do; this helps to seal any gaps that might still be there, and it completely eliminates the need to use stoma paste or barrier rings (at least in theory).
In my experience, tape borders work great in terms of flexibility, water resistance, and comfort. If you’ve ever used other Hollister tape border wafers, then you’ll be at home with FormaFlex, since it offers the same clear plastic release liner and paper liners that you’re used to.
Using a shape-to-fit wafer is pretty straightforward:
- You remove your old appliance.
- Clean your skin and shave if necessary.
- Stretch (not roll) the inner part of the wafer to the approximate size of your stoma.
- Apply the wafer to your skin, making sure that your stoma does not touch the adhesive under the wafer.
- Smooth out the wafer around your stoma, making sure there are no gaps.
- Apply your bag, then hold your palm over your stoma for about a minute so that the adhesives can form a better bond using the heat of your skin.
It’s important to remember that FormaFlex should not be rolled like the ConvaTec moldable wafers.
Removing this wafer is similar to other New Image products that have tape borders. I find the tape to be harder to remove compared to the inner, hydrocolloid part of the wafer, but it’s still pretty easy with adhesive remover.
It does come off cleanly, and I don’t notice much residue left on my skin.
How Well Does It Work?
The tape border holds up to showers quite well, just like other Hollister New Image products do, and I had no complaints about edge peeling or dry/irritated skin.
But here’s where things disappoint: I get poor wear time with FormaFlex wafers!
When I initially tried a few samples, I seemed to be getting 3-day wear, which is totally normal for me. But as I started to use the product more (weeks and months), I noticed that it would melt below my stoma, exposing quite a bit of skin to my output.
This melting sometimes occur within 24 hours, which is crazy to me!
Having contacted Hollister, we suspected that I might have used a bad batch, so replacements were sent, and I gave them another go – same results as before – short wear time.
This is rather unfortunate, as I would have loved to continue to use this product and be done with measuring and cutting my wafers, but sadly, this just didn’t work out.
I will note that during the entire time I’ve used the FormaFlex products, never once did I experience a leak under my wafer (i.e. where stool actually gets under it). I was a bit surprised by that, considering the melting issue I was experiencing, but Hollister does have a pretty strong adhesive on these extended wear products.
It’s entirely possible that my body chemistry and output simply aren’t compatible with this product, and another ostomate may have wonderful luck with it, so I’m not quick to dismiss the usefulness of the FormaFlex wafer.
For me, however, saving 30 seconds on each appliance change, only to be changing my appliance daily isn’t a good trade-off.
At the time of this writing (Aug 2016), FormaFlex can be purchased for approx. CAN$43 or US$32 per box of 5.
Hollister seems to have made these available in Canada and the US, but I’m not sure they are sold in other parts of the world.
You should be able to easily request samples in North America directly from Hollister.
- The tape border is comfortable and contours nicely.
- The floating flange works perfectly.
- Using the moldable part is easy and perfect fits are to be expected with no cutting required.
- The minimal coupling is easy to “burp”.
- For some users, using this product may eliminate the need to use stoma paste or barrier rings.
- Individual packaging is convenient for travel.
- Free of animal ingredients.
- Pretty low profile for a two-piece that has a mechanical coupling.
- Doesn’t last as long as other Hollister wafers (this could depend on the person).
- Available only in North America.
- Slightly more expensive than other Hollister products.
The Hollister FormaFlex offers convenience and leak protection that trumps regular wafers. Unfortunately, not everyone will have a great experience with these and short wear time may be the norm.
But for those who don’t have the same issues with the premature melting that I experienced, this could end up being one of the best wafers out there.