An important part of our mission here at Purely Aesthetics is to inform and educate our patients on the most up-to-date technologies, procedures and products available in the arena of minimally invasive facial aesthetic medicine. As part of this mission, we’re happy to share our first Q&A-style blog post with Dr. Foley to discuss the administration of dermal fillers using cannulas vs. traditional needles.
What is a cannula? And what does it have to do with dermal fillers?
A cannula in this context is a blunt-tipped, hollow tube that functions as an alternative to a needle when administering dermal fillers. Dermal fillers (such as those sold under the Juvéderm brand name) have traditionally been administered using sharp-tipped needles. While both methods of injection have their roles, the approach of using blunt-tipped cannulas offers several benefits to the patient not previously possible using sharp needles.
How does the cannula method work?
Whether using a cannula or needle, it is imperative to first make a full assessment of every patient who presents for treatment, analyzing each individual’s facial structure and overall loss of volume before administering any dermal filler or botulinum toxin product. The conversation starts by asking what the patient’s primary concerns are and, from there, discussing what products and methods are best suited to achieve his or her desired results.
Often, what is bothering the patient is an area that would benefit from increasing volume in the face overall, not necessarily in the location of the worrisome area. Using the cannula method works especially well in these cases, as it allows the injector to replace lost volume as needed throughout the face using only a few punctures with a tiny introducer needle.
With the cannula method, a small introducer needle is used to create an entry point for the cannula. The cannula is then inserted into the puncture site and maneuvered along the natural planes of skin tissue; this provides a large area to place the dermal filler through a single entry point.
This large area made available by the cannula means that the injector is now able to accurately place the filler in multiple areas of the face via the one entry point in the skin (rather than the multiple injections that needles require to achieve similar results). And because the filler can be distributed smoothly and uninterrupted along the tissue plane, a more flawless, natural look is achieved.
What kinds of benefits are patients seeing using the cannula method?
Both physicians and patients are seeing the benefits of this approach.
For physicians, using a blunt-tip cannula allows for a more accurate placement of filler, as they are able to feel resistance as the cannula travels underneath the skin and can manipulate where the filler is deposited. Because the cannula allows the injector to more seamlessly place a smooth layer of product rather than multiple dollops, less massaging and manipulation of product is needed to achieve a beautifully smooth and natural looking result. Additionally, because the blunt tipped cannula is much less likely to pierce a vessel, the rare risk of intravascular compromise is further reduced.
For patients, the cannula approach is less painful than traditional needles as there are far fewer entry points. There is also a decreased risk of bleeding, bruising and swelling. While needles are more likely to cause bruising and swelling because their sharp tip can penetrate a vein or artery (causing bleeding), cannulas are less likely to do so, because their blunt tips typically push these obstacles aside.
Finally, decreased swelling and bruising results in minimal downtime and patients typically return to their normal routine immediately following their treatment.
Do you administer all dermal fillers using the cannula technique?
While the cannula method for injecting dermal fillers offers many benefits, there are cases when using the traditional needle may be more appropriate. As with any treatment, we take a personalized approach to ensure the patient achieves his or her desired results in the safest and most effective way possible.