Cannulas or Needles for Fillers: What’s The Difference?

By Florence Goulbourne

If you’re new to the aesthetics industry or preparing for your aesthetics appointment, you may be wondering about the difference between using a cannula or needle for fillers. In the past, needles were the only option available for administering injectables like dermal fillers and skin boosters. However, as the aesthetic industry continues to evolve, practitioners are increasingly exploring the use of cannulas as an alternative delivery method for fillers.

Choosing the right delivery method is crucial when it comes to performing a treatment. By selecting the best consumable, practitioners can minimise the risk of complications and ensure that the final result meets exceptional standards. This article will explore the difference between using needles and cannulas for injecting dermal fillers, providing insights to help practitioners make informed decisions about which method to use.

What is the difference between needles and cannulas?

Practitioners can choose between needles and cannulas for injectable treatments, as these two methods work differently and offer distinct advantages. By understanding the differences between the two, practitioners can determine which option is best for a particular treatment.

The main differences between cannulas and needles for fillers are:

  • Different sizes and shapes
  • Different injecting capabilities
  • Entry points required
  • Downtime and recovery process

Different sizes and shapes

When comparing cannulas or needles for filler injectables, it’s important to note that needles have shorter lengths and sharp tips, while cannulas have longer lengths and blunt tips. Needles are static during injection, while cannulas are flexible and feature a thin tube.

Different injecting capabilities

Cannulas and needles have different ways of penetrating the skin for dermal filler injections. Cannulas have a rounded edge and blunt tip, which makes them unable to puncture the skin by themselves. As a result, a needle is usually used to create an entry point for the cannula. 

Needles, on the other hand, have a sharp tip and can easily penetrate the skin, delivering the filler into the targeted area without requiring further manipulation from the practitioner.

Entry points required

Compared to cannulas, needles have a shorter length and require more entry points to access the full treatment area. Conversely, cannulas require only one insertion point due to their longer length and flexibility. Since cannulas can re-enter the same entry point multiple times, they eliminate the need for multiple entry points like needles.

This means that patients are less likely to experience discomfort, which is essential for both the practitioner and the patient.

Downtime and recovery process

When it comes to dermal fillers, one of the primary concerns with using needles is their sharp and rigid shape. 

However, cannulas offer a distinct advantage over needles. The blunt tip of a cannula allows it to navigate through tissues in a more targeted and precise movement, providing the practitioner with more control over the injection process. This means that they can feel resistance from surrounding structures and adjust their approach accordingly.

On the other hand, needles have a greater risk of accidentally puncturing veins or arteries, which can lead to complications such as swelling and bruising, or in severe cases, intravascular injection. This occurs when the filler is injected directly into a vein or artery, which can result in dangerous conditions, like vascular occlusion or necrosis.

Cannulas, with their rounded tips, are less likely to cause these types of issues and therefore result in fewer side effects and a quicker recovery time. In fact, the blunt tip of a cannula tends to gently push aside veins and arteries as it passes through the tissues.

Should I use a needle or cannula for lip augmentation?

Considering the advantages of both techniques, the choice between using a needle or a cannula usually depends on the practitioner’s personal preference. Some practitioners may feel comfortable performing lip filler treatments solely with a needle or a cannula, while others may opt to switch between the two depending on the specific case.

To gain some insights into the preferences of leading medical practitioners in the field, we conducted out some interviews.

The NMC-registered and lead Nurse practitioner at Nurse Billie Aesthetics, Billie-Jae Darragh said: “I typically tend to opt for needles for the lip because they give you more precision, which you can only get with a needle. However, for facial contouring such as cheeks, jawline, and pre-jowls, I tend to use a combination of both needles and cannulas.”

Healthcare professional and former clinical pharmacist, Reem Marstani at Reem Aesthetics also joined the conversation, saying: “I agree with Nurse Billie. I use needles for everything aside from when doing a tear trough filler treatment. Needles are much better for precision typically, but cannulas are great for tear trough filler to reduce the risk of any complications, as it’s an area prone to lots of bruising with a needle.”

Cannula or Needle for Filler – A Summary

In summary, needles and cannulas each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, highlighting the need for practitioners to have expertise in both methods of injection in their clinical practice. This is particularly crucial when it comes to prioritising the safety and well-being of patients.

If you’d like to find out more about cannulas or needles for fillers, and the type of products at Fox Pharma, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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