Cannula vs Needle: Injection Technique Comparison

Cannula vs Needle: Injection Technique Comparison
Reading Time: 4 Minutes
Author: Cathy Longley

Non-surgical and minimally invasive facial rejuvenation treatments, such as Botox and dermal fillers, are still among the most popular in-office cosmetic procedures many years after they have been launched. They are still the go-to treatment for people who are seeking to enhance their facial features or put a stop on aging for a year or two without going under the knife.

Traditionally, these injectable cosmetic treatments were delivered using hypodermic needles, but over the years, aesthetic cannulas have emerged as viable tools for practitioners to use in administering soft fillers, especially for larger areas of the face and potentially leading to safer injections with less risk of side effects.

Despite being both suitable for the job, aesthetic injections using these tools have their own pros and cons. In this article, we’ll compare cannula vs needle against each other, break down their advantages and disadvantages, and find out how seasoned cosmetic injectors decide which one to use for specific situations.

Let’s delve right in!

Cannula vs. Needle: What’s the Difference?

There are many contrasting differences between cannula and needle, mainly in how they are designed, which significantly influences cosmetic practitioners’ injection technique. 

The biggest and perhaps most obvious characteristic that sets the two apart is the appearance of their edge or tip. The cannula is also called a microcannula or a blunt-tip cannula in the medical aesthetics industry. Its rounded edge cannot puncture the skin on its own. A needle would have to be used beforehand to make an entry point on the skin for the cannula to have access and deliver the product. Its blunt tip means that it can push veins and arteries out of the way, potentially resulting in less pain, swelling and bruising for the patient while decreasing the risk of severe side effects, such as a vascular occlusion.

True or false: minor bruising and swelling is common after lip injections

On the contrary, the needle has a thin and sharp tip that allows it to readily penetrate the skin and conveniently deliver the product without requiring pushing or manipulation from the practitioner.  There are ideal for doing very precise work or delivering product supraperiosteally.

However, the needle is stiff and limited in length, therefore making more entry points is necessary to access all the spots to ensure effective treatment. In some cases, this can result in trauma to the patient’s skin, particularly when performing a lip augmentation treatment. On the other hand, the cannula is the opposite with longer length and more flexibility to offer to reach treatment points with one insertion point.. 

Cannula vs Needle for Cosmetic Injection Treatments

These days, some dermal filler products ( like Belotero Volume) now come prepackaged with cannulas but most still are packaged with needles.  Additionally, practitioners will order cannulas separately thus providing aesthetic injectors more freedom in choosing which injection technique they feel more confident using.

Using cannula vs needle for cosmetic injection treatments comes with risks and benefits, which affects the patient’s safety, comfort, and overall treatment experience. Here’s a quick rundown of the advantages of using cannula in administering cosmetic injection treatments. 

Reduced Bleeding, Bruising, And Significant Downtime

The main concern when using a needle for dermal fillers is that because of its sharp and unbending nature, there are greater chances of puncturing or passing through a vein, blood vessel, or an artery. When this happens, the patient may suffer from pain, bruising, or swelling.  Additionally, if the needle gets into an artery, there is the risk of a vascular occlusion, which potentially could lead to infection, tissue death, and in extremely rare cases, blindness. 

There is a relatively lower risk of this from happening when using a cannula because its tip is

not sharp enough to rupture the veins or blood vessels.  This can be dependent of the gauge of the cannula used combined with the injection technique of the injector. The higher the gauge, the narrower the cannula combined with an aggressive or forceful injection technique can still lead to complications.  A wider cannula combined with a slow gentle technique can lessen the risk of complications. Another known advantage of the cannula vs needle injection technique is that the injector would discern if there’s an indication of slight resistance as it’s passing through tissue, giving them the opportunity to adjust the pressure or change its direction. However, some patients feel the cannula in their skin and while no painful, they describe it as   “odd”. 

Fewer Entry Points Required Equals Less Discomfort and Less Risk of Bruising

Because the cannula does not require multiple entry points, unlike the needle and can even re-enter the same one many times, the patient won’t feel any discomfort getting poked several times. Since the experience of receiving aesthetic injections is paramount, this is an important consideration.  Patients can, in general, return to their normal life immediately without bruises ans welling commonly associated with needles..

When to Use Needle Injection Technique

Despite the undeniable benefits of using a cannula for dermal filler injections, there are still some instances when a sharp-needle injection technique seems logical. The needle offers precision in administering minute amounts of dermal fillers when:

  • Doing quick touch-ups to maintain stunning and subtle results 
  • Delivering product deep under the SMAS to lift the lateral cheeks with bolus injections supraperiosteally.
  • Enhancing small treatment areas that should look balanced and natural, for example, the lip’s cupid’s bow
  • Improving extremely fine lines and acne scars on the superficial side of the skin

Learn Both Cannula and Needle Injection Techniques with APT!

Both cannula and needle injection techniques have their own merits in the world of medical aesthetics. This powerfully illustrates the importance for aspiring injectors to master both methods to feel confident about their injecting skills and come out prepared to take on whatever challenge they may face in a clinical setting. 

APT Injection Training is a leading learning institution that offers intensive training courses for registered medical practitioners. When you enroll for our courses, you don’t have to decide between cannula vs needle because we can help you become an expert on both injection techniques. Sign up for our Foundation Toxin & Basic Filler Certificate of Attendance and our Basic Lower Face Cannula Training to see what we’re talking about. 

For more information on our BOTOX and dermal filler certification courses, please contact us today! A member of the APT Team will get in touch with you immediately.

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