Is it better to inject dermal filler using a cannula or a needle? Both methods are effective and each have their place.

In recent years, cannula have become increasingly popular – but what are the differences between the two – and which works best?

Delivery via cannula often results in less discomfort and bruising, along with many even more important benefits…

What is a Cannula?

A cannula (or microcannula) is a fine needle-like metal tube. It looks similar to a needle, yet is longer and more flexible, with a blunt tip that can not pierce skin. A needle must first be used to pierce a tiny hole in skin that a cannula can then be inserted through.

Key Differences: Cannula and Needle.

A cannula is:

  • Not sharp due to its blunt tip
  • Longer
  • More flexible

Benefits of Cannula for Patients

  • Less entry points are needed to inject a cannula = less overall discomfort
  • A single entry point can be used to treat multiple areas
  • Less intrusive due to its blunt end
  • Results in lower risk of bruising & swelling
  • Safest approach in some areas of face as cannula glides past vessels

Benefits of Cannula for Injectors

  • Safe & effective to use
  • Reduced risk of piercing vessels such as an artery or vein
  • Less likely to lead to bruising
  • Less likely to cause complications such as vascular occlusion
  • Length and flexibility allows for smooth, continuous delivery of filler


How to Choose between Needle and Cannula?

Both needles and cannulas have their benefits & limitations – and an experienced injector will always choose the best tool for the safest, optimal results.

While cannulas are most often used in larger areas such as the mid and lateral cheek, they can in fact be used to inject dermal filler anywhere in the face. For example, while I normally use a small, fine needle to inject lip filler, I will sometimes choose a cannula for a patient who bruises or swells a lot. Both will achieve great results, whereas one may be more comfortable for you – and that's important to me!

A lot of it is also down to personal choice. A cannula allows me to fan filler beautifully across the cheek, while I personally prefer to use a needle on smaller areas for even greater precision, such as perioral (smokers) lines around the lips.

While using either cannula or needle can achieve similar aesthetic results, the best outcome ultimately lies with the knowledge, skills and experience of your injector. As I always say, choose yours carefully!



Clara McLoughlin, Aspire Aesthetics NI
BSc (Hons), PG Dip, SCPHN, RGN, RCN, Independent Nurse Prescriber

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with me at:

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