Ostomy wafers adhere to the skin around your stoma and connect to an ostomy bag. Ostomy wafers are also called baseplates, barriers, and flanges. The barrier is designed to protect delicate stomal skin from caustic output. Some ostomy wafers are pre-attached to the bag and cannot come apart. These are known as 1-piece ostomy systems. Others are separate and are connected to one another by the user. These are called 2-piece systems. If you use a 1-piece system, both the wafer and bag must be disposed of when the bag is full. With a 2-piece system, you can remove the bag from the flange and throw it away, leaving the wafer attached to your body.
Cut to fit wafers allow you to customize the size and shape of the opening in the barrier. They are beneficial for new ostomates, because after surgery the stoma will change size and shape. These are also helpful for people who are in between sizes or don’t have a perfectly round stoma. Pre-cut flanges have an existing hole cut out, preventing you from having to cut the opening yourself. For those with established and rounder stomas, using a pre-cut flange can save you the time of fitting the wafer once you know which flange size works best for you.
If you choose to use 2 piece ostomy bags, keep in mind that flanges will only connect with a pouch system from the same brand’s product line. You cannot use a flange from one brand and connect it to a pouch from a different brand. This also applies to different product lines manufactured by the same company. For instance, you cannot use a Coloplast Sensura flange with a Coloplast Assura pouch. Brands often use colors to represent stomal opening sizes, making it easier to match up the wafer with the corresponding pouch. This is another benefit of staying within the same product line once you find the wafer size that works best with your stoma.
It is rare that an ostomy barrier will fit perfectly around your stoma. Usually there is a small gap between the stoma and the hole of the barrier. Leaving open gaps can cause output to leak under the wafer, which could damage stomal skin. Ostomy seals are be placed underneath your wafer to fill in the gaps between the ostomy wafer and your stoma. These barrier rings are made from a flexible material and can be fitted to the size and shape of your stoma. We also carry moldable flanges, which have a barrier ring-like material already built into the flange.
Skin prep wipes and ostomy barrier sprays can also protect your stoma from redness and irritation or help treat damaged skin. Barrier sprays and wipes form a thin layer on the skin that shields it from moisture and output. Some ostomates apply stoma powder to the skin and follow up with skin prep product afterward. This process, known as crusting, protects the stomal skin and helps the wafer adhere to the body.