The Needle Jammed Into Your Haystack

Today, I’m going to tackle a side effect of Diabetes that I never have before. Although I’ve touched on it briefly in previous posts, I’ve never really taken the time to examine it and put a name to it. Well, today is the day. No time like the present. I’m talking about a well-known condition that usually remains unnamed for most Diabetics called Lipohypertrophy.

So what is Lipohypertrophy? According to an article posted by HealthLine.com, it’s defined as “an abnormal accumulation of fat underneath the surface of the skin. It’s most commonly seen in people who receive multiple daily injections, such as people with Type-1 Diabetes. In fact, up to 50 percent of people with Type-1 Diabetes experience it at some point.”

In layman’s terms, Lypohypertrophy is the scar tissue that one accumulates from repeated injections in the same area. This is especially true if you wear an insulin pump and/or test your blood sugar frequently throughout the day. The difference between Lypohypertrophy and actual scar tissue is that the former isn’t permanent. Providing you take the proper steps. I’ve read a number of different sources in relation to this, and most of them recommend everything from mildly massaging the area, all the way to liposuction to remove the fat deposits. I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in such extreme measures (I mean the liposuction).

For the most part, Lypohypertrophy will pass if you allow some time between injection sites. Sometimes when I remove an infusion site, I’ll see a hard, red spot where the cannula pierced my flesh. That spot will disappear. Typically. This process, however, can happen as quickly as days or take as long as months. So it’s important to rotate your injection sites regularly and try to avoid always jabbing a needle into the same spot, constantly.

Other important steps to prevent Lypohypertrophy is to ensure to always use fresh needles. Although on a microscopic level, needles will start to bend at the tip after only one use. Many Diabetics will try and save a few bucks by re-using the same needle over and over. But doing so can result in thicker scar tissue and possible infection. Rotating your site and even considering smaller needles can be good ways to prevent and avoid Lypohypertrophy. I’m not sure how acupuncture would help, but I’m certain your local acupuncturist could explain it. In extreme cases, liposuction can provide an immediate solution to elimination the unsightly lumps, but you face the same risks as you would with any surgery.

The reality is that although we don’t think of it in that way, there’s plenty of real estate to inject your insulin, so you should avoid repeated use of the same injection sites. Some people even keep a log to ensure they avoid repeated sites for as long as possible. You’ll know it’s time to visit your doctor if your injection sites become red and swollen, are hot to the touch or painful without touching, all of which are signs of infection.

The same can be said of your fingertips, although this is straight up scar tissue and there’s little you can do to heal it once it forms. The difference is that Lypohypertrophy will affect how your body absorbs insulin. But as long as blood is drawn, the desired result is achieved. Maybe take it easy on the guitar practice while your fingers heal, but otherwise you’re good to go. Just one more aspect of the Diabetes rollercoaster one needs to think about. ☯

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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