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Use of Skin Strain Modeling to Assess Removal of Surgical Tape with Acrylate or Silicone Adhesive

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Background: Medical tape removal from skin may be associated with skin tears in patients with frail skin.1 To more fully understand how medical tape removal affects skin, tape removal models have been developed. Existing medical tape removal test methods include measuring peel forces of during medical tapes removal from steel, acrylic resin products, or skin. However, the peel force may not be representative of the actual strain that it imparts to the tissue. The current study assessed the differences in strain profiles for three commonly used surgical tapes using a finite element analysis (FEA) to measure strain and deformation that occurs at the tissue interface with the surgical tape.

Methods: A skin mimic was created from a 2-part silicone molding material with an adhesive overcoat. Three different surgical tapes with acrylate adhesive,* gentle acrylate adhesive, or silicone adhesive were place on the skin mimic and a high-speed imaging captured the surgical tape removal. FEA models of the tapes were based on mechanical test data geometrically configured for 180-degree peel tests. Peak strain values were determined by applying human skin peel force data.

Results: The FEA modeling showed peak strains ranging from 3.8 – 17.8% for the 3 surgical tapes tests. The average peel force associated with the same surgical tapes was between 94.33 -213.73 gf/in. The silicone adhesive surgical tape had the highest peel force and the lowest skin strain (213.73 gf/in and 3.8%, respectively).

Conclusions: Surgical tape removal may, in certain instances, be related to skin injury. Therefore, it is important to choose the best product for the intended job while providing the least potential damage to the skin. The silicone adhesive surgical tape may provide enhanced securement and less tissue strain upon removal; and may provide clinicians a new option for securement that is gentle to skin.

*3M™ Transpore™ Surgical Tape, 3M™ Transpore™ White Surgical Tape, 3M™ Micropore™ S Surgical Tape (3M, Maplewood, MN)


  1. McNichol L, Lund., C., Rosen, T., Gray, M. Medical Adhesives and Patient Safety: State of the Science. Consensus Statements for the Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment of Adhesive-Related Skin Injuries. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2013;40(4):16.