Quality CareFind out why Mayo Clinic is the right place for your health care. Make an appointment.
Meet the StaffFind a directory of doctors and departments at all Mayo Clinic campuses. Visit now.
Research and Clinical TrialsSee how Mayo Clinic research and clinical trials advance the science of medicine and improve patient care. Explore now.
Visit Our SchoolsEducators at Mayo Clinic train tomorrow’s leaders to deliver compassionate, high-value, safe patient care. Choose a degree.
Professional ServicesExplore Mayo Clinic’s many resources and see jobs available for medical professionals. Get updates.
Give to Mayo ClinicHelp set a new world standard in care for people everywhere. Give now.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
Most of us aren't crazy about needles, and many people just plain freak out around needles. Recently, I had a patient tell me, "I've had diabetes for 19 years, and I still have trouble with the needles and insulin injections — I even have a couple of tattoos!"
In years past, we diabetes educators at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., promoted the longer, 1/2 in. (12 mm) insulin injection needles for our overweight patients. But we've recently adjusted our recommendations after doing a literature search for peer-reviewed studies and publications on needle length published last year. Our questions as we did this search were:
What we found is that the shorter, less intimidating, needles of 5/16 in. (8 mm) provided the same blood glucose control as the longer, 1/2 in. (12 mm) needles, with no increase in insulin leakage at the site. Those studied also reported less pain and increased satisfaction.
We now recommend that overweight or normal weight adult individuals use the shorter 5/16 in. (8 mm) insulin syringe needle. However, technique is important when injecting insulin and can make a big difference in the absorption and dosing. The preferred injection site is the abdomen, although other sites can be used. And a person should inject straight in at a 90-degree angle, holding the needle in place for a count of 10 before removing. Very lean people using 5/16 in. (8 mm) needles may need to pinch the skin and inject into a skin fold to prevent the possibility of injecting into muscle. Individuals already using the 1/2 in. (12 mm) needles should also use a skin fold.
Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E.
Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E.
Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.