Understanding Fillers: Injection vs Cannula (guest post)


For the longest time, the only and most preferred technique for the placement of soft tissue fillers such as autologous fat, collagen, and hyaluronic acid to the face and hands has been through the sharp-tipped hypodermic needle. However, strides in technology have seen to the development of blunt tipped cannulas such as the micro-cannula. This has changed the placement and filling landscape in a big way.

Nevertheless, the choice to use a cannula over the hypodermic needle depends primarily on the aesthetician. However, the benefits offered by the blunt tipped cannula makes it the preferred option for most doctors.


What are cannulas?

Cannulas closely resemble needles. However, the difference is that their ends are blunt instead of sharp. This small detail, however, makes for all the distinction. The thing about sharp ended needles is that they are likely to cause unwanted damage to the tissue when executing routine injections.

An analogy that depicts the difference is that of a baseball bat and knife. If, for instance, you were to poke somebody using a knife, there is bound to be tissue damage depending on hard you poke them. Nevertheless, you would still puncture them and cause relative damage. However, if you attempted the same using a baseball bat, you would not be able to pierce them. The same is true for hypodermic needles and cannulas.


Injecting Properly

When you visit your plastic surgeon for a fat placement procedure, they will start their dermal injections by creating a small needle prick at the treatment site. They will then use this point to insert the cannula. As previously stated, a cannula resembles a needle in both shape and size. It is a metal tube that is slightly longer and flexible than a needle. And instead of a sharp tip, it has a dull rounded point.

It also has a tiny hole near its tip that is used to deliver the filler into the tissue.

The advantage of a blunted tip is that it spreads the nerves and blood vessels, and lymphatics gently so that it can penetrate safely.


Needle vs. Cannula

This can also be expressed as:

  • Sharp vs blunt
  • Stiff vs flexible
  • Short vs long

Advantages of Cannula over the needle

  • Less bruising

Once the surgeon has inserted the cannula, its rounded tip gently presses through the various structures beneath the skin’s surface. Thus, it pushes the veins and other blood vessels out of its way rather than piercing through them like a needle would do. When your surgeon feels any kind of resistance, the cannula flexibility allows them to navigate around the obstruction so as to create a path for the injection.

A needle, on the other hand, pierces through any structures that it comes across because if its sharp tip. Consequently, when a blood vessel is impaled, blood leaks into the neighboring tissue thus creating a visible bruise. Even though you can use makeup to cover up these bruises, one could afford not to get the bruising in the first place. Therefore, by opting to use a cannula over a needle, the surgeon is able to mitigate the risk of bruising.

  • Less pain

Another benefit to using a cannula for filler injections is that they are a lot less painful. In the past, cosmetic surgeons had to perform nerve blocks when doing injectables. Thus, they anesthetized the entire face by using specific approaches to each nerve. With cannulas, however, cosmetic surgeons are able to avoid this hassle.

Lips, for instance, are typically very sensitive. Thus, performing filler injections into the lips using needles can be a very painful procedure. The introduction of cannulas has seen to surgeons no longer needing to deaden the lips’ nerves prior to the injection. Thus, cannulas allow for a more pain-free and comfortable treatment as well as minimizing the subsequent swelling and bruising.

Less needle pokes

Using needles to inject fillers is a procedure that necessitates multiple entry points. This is because each specific needle prick allows the needle to deliver the filler only to that particular region. The needle has to be removed and inserted into another area, and so forth until the entire region has been treated.

Cannulas, however, are able to freely traverse through the tissue without having to be inserted into the tissue multiple times. Thus, from the single point of insertion, the cannula is able to access wide areas depending on its length.

For instance, a surgeon can inject a filler into your lips, nasolabial folds, and chin via a small needle prick at the corner of the mouth. Likewise, a small prick on the upper cheek could deliver filler into the cheeks as well as the tear troughs below the eyes.

With a needle, however, the doctor would need to make numerous needle pricks to achieve the same results.


The anatomy of injectables

While injectables do offer immediate results with little downtime, they do have significant risks involved albeit rare. Thus, choosing a reputable and highly skilled cosmetic surgeon is imperative.

The risks involved include the occlusion of blood vessels. During an occlusion, the filler blocks blood flow within a blood vessel. This may cause the death of tissue within that area due to a lack of blood supply.

Thus, to ensure that your procedure is a success, you will need to be operated on by someone who has knowledge, skill, and experience in doing fillings or placements.

A board-certified surgeon that routinely does facelifts, eyelid and forehead surgeries and rhinoplasties is the kind of individual you want to work on you as they have an in-depth knowledge about the various structures beneath the skin.


In the past, needles were widely utilized in fat placement. However, the pain, bruising, discomfort, and other risks made the procedure quite complicated. Cannulas have changed the way we go about placement procedures. Not only are they more comfortable and painless but save the surgeon a lot of hassle as well so that they can focus on treating you instead of avoiding hurting you.

Interested in improving your looks? The Glasgold Group Plastic Surgery is the leading cosmetic surgery center in the New Jersey region. We have a highly skilled and experienced team of specialists waiting to serve you.