Managing your type 2 diabetes with insulin therapy requires a lot of work. There are constant blood sugar checks, plus carb counting and exchanging, and all the other headaches that come with managing a chronic illness.
Even with all this hard work, you may be missing a key piece that is vital to managing your diabetes effectively. And this missing element is likely having a huge impact on your overall control.
I’m talking about injection site rotation.
Whether you are the type of insulin user who is doing everything else right, or you have room for improvement in some areas, incorporating a healthy site rotation into your routine can help you achieve your BG goals. And with a new product that has hit the Canadian market, it is easier than ever.
Why Is Site Rotation So Important?
Whether you only inject basal insulin once a day or are on multiple daily insulin injections to keep your blood sugar under control, you need to be rotating your injection sites. That means switching between multiple areas of your body, such as the back of your upper arms, thighs, stomach, and upper buttocks, each time you inject, as well as ensuring using as much real estate within those areas.
You may or may not have heard this advice before. But more than likely, you haven’t heard just how important it is to follow.
Failing to rotate your injection sites can lead to a common complication in insulin users known as lipohypertrophy. When you frequently inject insulin, a growth hormone, with a needle into the same area, it can cause trauma to the cells. This can lead to the growth of excess fat beneath the skin. It is estimated that up to 65% of insulin users suffer from lipohypertrophy.
While the complication itself isn’t dangerous, it can lead to some serious problems when it comes to managing your diabetes. That’s because this fatty scar tissue can affect how well your body absorbs insulin. In fact, research has shown that injecting into a lipo site results in 37% less insulin being absorbed.
One of the simplest ways to avoid developing this troublesome fatty tissue is to simply rotate where you inject your insulin each time you give yourself a shot.
A 2013 study published in Diabetes & Metabolism found that, of the insulin users who correctly rotate their sites, only 5% had lipohypertrophy while, of the patients with lipohypertrophy, 98% either did not rotate sites or rotated incorrectly.
A worldwide study has also shown that insulin users who use proper site rotation have, on average, a 0.6% lower A1C than those who don’t. But, if you already have developed lipo tissue, it is not too late. Changing to a healthy site rotation routine and adopting proper injection techniques can still help bring down your A1C by an average of 0.5% to 1.0% after six months.
SiteSmart Keeps Track So You Don’t Have To
Clearly, site rotation is an important piece of your diabetes management routine. But, incorporating this concept is easier said than done. After all, with all the other information you have to remember, how are you supposed to keep track of your injection sites day after day?
This is where the brilliance of the new SiteSmart pen needle comes in. This super simple product will help you consistently rotate your injection sites without adding any extra steps to your routine.
Just like your typical pen needles, these ones come in boxes of 100 and are used exactly the same way you use yours now.
These needles are color-coded. Each box is filled with four different colored needles, 25 of each. On the box is a body diagram, with color-coded stickers, to help you create your own injection site rotation plan, by simply assigning each of the 4 colors of pen needles to an injection site on the body map. Then, each time you pick up a pen needle, you simply inject in the area associated with that color.
And that’s it! No need to track or remember where you injected last – the color of the pen needle simply guides you where to inject!
While it is possible to pull the same color two or three times in a row, probability dictates that over a box of 100 pen needles, you will use each site evenly. And, best of all, it all works without you having to remember anything. In fact, if referring to the package diagram is too cumbersome, you can access directly through your phone by scanning the QR code on the packaging.
SiteSmart is such a simple concept that you may find it hard to believe that it can have such a large impact. But a recent clinical trial has shown just how effective this little tool can be in helping insulin users remember to rotate their injection sites. 203 insulin users were randomly chosen to receive their typical pen needle prescription or the new SiteSmart pen needles when they went to the pharmacy.
Those participants who received the color-coded needles didn’t receive any additional training or information other than what was contained on and in the box of pen needles. Despite this, at the end of the study, researchers found that SiteSmart pen needles resulted in a 134% increase in the likelihood to improve site rotation over conventional needles.
Bringing This Simple Tech to You
If this super-simple product sounds too good to be true, you are half right.
Right now, the new SiteSmart insulin pen needles are only available to insulin users living in Canada.
But people living in the US can probably get SiteSmart soon.
Montmed (website), the company behind this innovative idea, is in early discussions with potential US partners to bring this tech down south.
While this is still a new product, we are confident that it won’t be long before an American company shows interest. After all, this is a product that could be easily produced at no real extra cost by any company that already manufacturers pen needles. Given the potential to increase positive outcomes by reducing the rate of lipohypertrophy and decreasing A1Cs, this would be a no brainer for payers and healthcare professionals to get behind.
In fact, a product concept test conducted by dQ&A (website) found that 90% of certified diabetes educators (CDEs) polled would be likely or highly likely to recommend this product to patients. And nearly 90% of CDEs rated the SiteSmart concept as more valuable than any other improvements in technical attributes (i.e., needle gauge, length, etc.) of pen needles.
Clearly, this product has a high potential for not only cornering the pen needle market but also improving the lives of those who rely on insulin pens to control their diabetes.
It’s such a simple idea, but color-coded pen needles may be all it takes to help insulin users around the world incorporate injection site rotation into their daily management routines. We here at Type2Nation are all about tools that make managing this condition easier without adding to the workload already required. We may have to wait a little longer before this product is available in the states, but it seems it will be well worth the wait.