Syringe needle or lancet gauge refers to the thickness or diameter of the needle. The higher the gauge, the thinner the needle, and in theory, the less pain involved with injection and testing. Other factors that impact how comfortable a lancet or needle is are the angle of the point and how deep and quickly they enter the skin.
Injection technique may vary slightly depending on needle size. For example, most health care professionals recommend that insulin be injected into the layer of fat just below the skin, called the subcutaneous fat. In order to inject the insulin into this layer (rather than into the muscle below or the skin above, which can affect the absorption rate), most people pinch a fold of skin and fat and insert the needle at a 90 degree angle. However, if you use a 4 or 5 millimeter mini pen needle to inject, you don't have to pinch the skin when injecting, because this shorter needle will not penetrate deep enough to hit the muscle.
The angle at which you inject and your injection technique are dependent upon your body type, the injection site, and the length of the needle you are using. Talk to your doctor or diabetes educator about what methods and supplies are right for you.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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