Can I use short pen needles?
Rumor still has it that people who weigh a bit more have to use longer needles to reach the fatty tissue. So, the general assumption is that short needles only work for skinny people. Do you believe that, too? Then read how in reality everybody can use 4 millimeter pen needles.
Facts about your skin
Your skin is always between 1.9 and 2.4 millimeters thick. Just the thickness of your fatty tissue is linked directly to your weight: The more you weigh, the bigger the fat layer.(3)
Benefits of short pen needles
Benefits of short pen needles
Using short pen needles has a lot of advantages. Below you find the facts which speak for themselves:
1. Suitable for everybody
Everyone’s skin is around 2 millimeters thick. It makes no difference whether you are female or male, a little on the heavier side or rather thin. The complexion of our skin plays no part either. Therefore, you will definitely reach the fatty tissue with a 4 milimeter pen needle.(3, 4)
2. Less pain
The shorter the needle, the lower the pain: A short needle allows you to enter the fatty tissue perfectly, but you are less likely to hit the muscle below. That happens more easily with a longer needle. And that hurts.(1, 2, 3, 4)
3. Same efficacy
Short pen needles have proven to be as efficient as longer ones. Insulin is administered just as reliably with a 4 millimeter pen needle as with any other – with the nice side effect of reduced pain. As with all needles, you need to keep it in for 10 seconds after the injection.(4, 10, 11, 14, 16)
4. Reliable absorption
It makes no difference whether insulin is injected deeply into the fatty tissue with a longer needle or superficially with a shorter needle: The absorption will be just the same. So, there is no medical reason to opt for longer needles.(3, 14)
5. One-hand usage
This is only possible with short pen needles: You can inject yourself using just one hand. No pinching up is needed. So, injections with 4 millimeter needles are less stressful than with longer needles. With some practice, the process will become as easy as winking.
6. The safest option
4 millimeter pen needles are considered to be the safest – for both adults and children.(3) That and the combination of all the above listed benefits make them an ideal option for everyone. This has been proven in numerous studies.(3, 11, 14)
Tips: short pen needles
✔ Everyone can use 4 millimeter pen needles.
✔ 4 millimeter pen needles are considered to be the safest.
✔ If you have further questions, talk about short pen needles with your diabetes team.
1. Karges B. et al., Early hypoglycemia after accidental intramuscular injection of insulin glargine, Diabetes Med, October 2005;22(10):1444-1445.
2. Vaag A. et al., Variation in absorption of NHP insulin due to intramuscular injection, Diabetes Care, January 1990;13(1):74-76.
3. Frid A. et al., New Insulin Delivery Recommendations, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, September 2016; 90(9):1231-1255.
4. Hirsch L. et al., Comparative glycemic control, safety and patient ratings for a new 4 mm 32G insulin pen needle in adults with diabetes, Current Medical Research & Opinion, June 2010;26(6):1531-1541.
10. Bergenstal R. et al., Safety and Efficacy of Insulin Therapy Delivered via a 4mm Pen Needle in Obese Patients With Diabetes, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, March 2015; 90(3):329-338.
11. Frid A. et al., New injection recommendations for patients with diabetes, Diabetes and Metabolism 2010;36:3-18.
14 Sim K. et al., The Appropriateness of the Length of Insulin Needles Based on Determination of Skin and Subcutaneous Fat Thickness in the Abdomen and Upper Arm in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes, Diabetes Metabolism Journal 2014; 38:120-133.
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