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No Trauma: Dressing Strategies for Negative Pressure Wound Therapy

Industry News
August 10, 2018

by Hy-Tape International


Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) is an effective means of promoting wound healing and removing fluids from the wound area. NPWT helps to create a moist wound environment, removes exudate, and stimulates the wound bed.1,2 Because the technology has been shown to be a valuable tool when treating pressure ulcers or injuries and other wounds, health care professionals have begun using it with increasing frequency, allowing them to promote rapid wound healing and improve outcomes for patients.1,2 However, dressing a wound treated with NPWT can be challenging. NPWT presents many difficulties not found in more traditional wound care techniques. Because the wound interface must be attached to a vacuum pump to create negative pressure, the dressing is at greater risk of being pulled off or dislodged. Health care professionals must take special care to ensure that the dressing is secure and that the proper dressing materials are used to ensure optimal results.1,2

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Dressing Strategies

Choose the Right Wound Interface – An NPWT wound interface connects to the vacuum pump device and distributes the pressure evenly over the wound bed. It has two primary components: wound filler and an optional non-adherent wound contact layer. Health care professionals must generally choose between foam and gauze for the wound filler. Foam filler creates thick granulation tissue and may be used when scarring is not a concern. Gauze offers greater comfort and is easier to apply. It is also useful in highly visible areas when it is important to reduce the appearance of scarring.3,4

Use Strong Medical Adhesive – Keeping the NPWT device secure is critical to ensuring that pressure is maintained and that the dressing does not become dislodged. The medical adhesive must keep an airtight seal for multiple days between dressing changes. This makes it imperative that health care professionals choose a medical adhesive that is secure and has long-lasting adhesion.

Choose Water-Resistant Medical Adhesive – Moisture from incontinence or other sources can break the seal of an NPWT dressing and cause it to become ineffective. To prevent this issue, health care professionals should choose a medical adhesive that is water resistant and can maintain an effective seal, even when it is exposed to liquid.

Use Gentle Adhesives – Although it is important that the medical adhesives keep the NPWT dressing secure, it is also important that they do not irritate or damage the underlying skin. Foam NPWT dressings should be changed approximately every 48 hours to prevent ingrowth, whereas gauze dressings should be changed two to three times a week. The frequency of these changes means that overly harsh medical adhesives may damage the skin and exacerbate the wound. Health care professionals must ensure that the medical adhesive used is gentle enough to prevent skin irritation and damage.5,6


NPWT is an effective treatment, helping to promote rapid wound healing and improve patients’ outcomes. However, it is important that proper dressing guidelines be followed to reduce the risk of pressure loss and help the treatment be as effective as possible. By choosing the right wound interface and using medical adhesives that are strong, long lasting, and gentle, health care professionals can help ensure that they are optimizing the performance of NPWT treatment.


1. Banwell PE. Topical negative pressure therapy in wound care. J Wound Care. 1999;8(2):79-84.

2. Argenta LC, Morykwas MJ. Vacuum-assisted closure: a new method for wound control and treatment: clinical experience. Ann Plast Surg. 1997;38(6):563-76; discussion 577.

3. Borgquist O, Gustafsson L, Ingemansson R, Malmsjö M. Micro- and macromechanical effects on the wound bed by negative pressure wound therapy using gauze and foam. Ann Plast Surg. 2010;64(6):789-93.

4. Fraccalvieri M. Negative pressure wound therapy using the gauze and the foam: immunohistological and ultrasonography morphological analysis of the granulation tissue and the scar tissue. Preliminary report of a clinical study presented at the Third CORTE Congress, March 4–6, 2010. Accessed April 2018.

5. Morykwas M. Sub-atmospheric pressure therapy: research evidence. Presented at the First International Topical Negative Pressure Therapy ETRS Focus Group Meeting. London: European Tissue Repair Society; 2003:39-44.

6. Campbell PE, Smith GS, Smith JM. Retrospective clinical evaluation of gauze-based negative pressure wound therapy. Int Wound J. 2008;5(2):280-6.

About the Company

Hy-Tape International offers high-quality adhesive tape and has served the market for 70 years. Tapes are available in strips, patches, and kit rolls giving health care providers a wide range of options for securing dressings and devices. Free product samples are available at or by calling 1-800-248-0201.

Industry Voices is brought to you by health care industry sponsors. All content is developed and paid for by the sponsoring company. Kestrel Health Information, Inc. is not involved in the creation of this content. 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, HMP Global, its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.