Updated: Jun 12, 2019
Traditionally, dermal fillers have been injected using needles. In fact, most dermal fillers are still packaged with two short (1/2 inch) needles to use for injecting the product. However, there are several reasons to not using the supplied needle and to, instead, use a blunt tipped cannula for the injection of dermal fillers. In fact, Galderma is the first dermal filler company to package their Restylane ® Silk with cannulas.
A needle has a sharp point with the hole from which the product flows at the tip. A cannula looks like a needle but has a blunt tip with the holes on the sides. If a needle comes up against a blood vessel it can pierce it causing bleeding and bruising. If a cannula comes up against a blood vessel it usually just pushes it aside. Think of a q-tip gently pushing something away. No bleeding equals no bruising. Also, the risk of injecting filler into a blood vessel is greatly reduced. In that rare case, serious
complications could occur. All that being said, you can bruise with a cannula but the risk is much lower than with a needle.
You might ask, how does the cannula penetrate the skin if it is not sharp? A needle slightly larger than the cannula is used to create an entry hole through which the cannula is passed. Since the cannula is longer than a needle, one hole can be used place the filler to many places in the face thereby reducing the need for multiple uncomfortable needle sticks. Most people only feel a little pressure from the cannula. A drop of lidocaine is sometimes used to reduce the pinch from the needle prick for the hole.
Cannula use is especially helpful when filling the hollow spaces under the eyes. Years ago people often had black eyes for a week or more after treatment to those “tear troughs”. Now there is usually a bit of swelling but bruising is greatly mitigated. Another nice area to use the cannula is for upper lip “smoker’s lines”. Being able to treat that sensitive area without multiple sticks with a needle is much more comfortable. Next time you get filler, ask your injector if she has experience with cannula use. Your face will thank you for it!
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