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Is A Micro-Cannula A Better Bet For Injecting Dermal Filler?

Woman getting dermal filler
Woman getting dermal filler

Today’s dermal fillers do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to rejuvenating areas in which Father Time has failed you. Fine lines, volume loss, and gravitational pull can all be fairly successfully improved through the use of injectables like Juvederm, Belotero, Restylane… the list is long and growing. And the advancement buck doesn’t stop there. As variations in dermal fillers evolve, variations in the ways in which your doctor administers said filler also evolves.

You: Variations, you say?

Us: Yes.

Variations in particular products can include how thick, thin, flexible or stiff a product is, as well as how long a product’s results will last—this makes particular products more appropriate for treating different areas of the face. And now doctors are discovering that variations in the way that a filler is administered can also prove beneficial when it comes to bruising, swelling and downtime.

Traditionally, dermal fillers were strictly administered with an extra sharp needle used to pierce the skin in the proper place and administer the filler in the appropriate depth to the tissue below. Now, some plastic surgeons are switching to administering fillers with a micro-cannula for the unique advantages they feel it affords them over the needle.

You: A micro-what?

Us: Exactly.

A micro-cannula is a teeny-tiny (hence the “micro-“), flexible tube (hence the “-cannula”) with ports on its side as opposed to the sharp, ported tip of a needle. The injector makes a small opening and inserts said micro-cannula into the area in need of filler. For those of you hoping to completely avoid the needle, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. The aforementioned small opening is indeed made with a needle. And if you’re not seeing the benefit yet, here’s where it starts: A micro-cannula allows the injector to avoid hitting vessels, nerves (*ouch), and any other structure’s lurking under the skin. Because the tip of a micro-cannula is rounded, it simply pushes all those things out of the way—if the injector feels a little resistance, they are able to work around it due to the micro-cannula’s flexibility, and because they tend to be longer in length than needles, a micro-cannula can fill multiple areas with just a single entry point. All this equals less trauma to the skin, less chance of bruising and greater and inserts the micro-cannula into the area.

But don’t take our word for it. Dr. Bruce Van Natta, an Indianapolis based board-certified plastic surgeon weighs in with, “There are far less risks with a micro-cannula since it has a blunt tip and won’t typically cause as much bruising. Most importantly, the chances of directly injecting a vessel are very much reduced. From a patient safety standpoint, the use of micro-cannula is a significant advance towards achieving optimal patient outcomes while minimizing complications— especially helping to avoid an intra-arterial injection which can result in major complications.”

Here’s how it works. Your doctor will determine whether the use of a cannula is appropriate and which size cannula to use. For example, certain filler’s are thicker in viscosity and might require a larger bore cannula, while others are thinner and won’t require the larger bore holes. (FYI, certain fillers will also be better injected through a direct dermal injection via a needle, too—your surgeon will use his/her best judgement to decide.) And before you ask… no… micro-cannula’s are not useful for neurotoxin injections like Botox, Xeomin or Dysport. Sorry.

But isn’t all of this really in the hands of your doctor? Yes. Of course it is. But it's important that you understand your procedure, the product your doctor is recommending and your surgeon's qualifications. Some doctors will prefer to stick with the needle method of injecting filler, while other will extol the virtues of the micro-cannula. A visit with your board-certified plastic surgeon is the best resource to see what's best for you.


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