Learn about lipohypertrophy and what you can do to avoid it
Lipohypertrophy, or just "lipo," is a common complication, affecting anywhere from about half to three-quarters of people who inject insulin. In addition to being unsightly, lipos can affect your blood sugar control if you are not careful about keeping your injection sites healthy.1
Lipos are thickened, rubbery swellings under the skin that can happen to people who inject insulin. These lumps may be soft or firm. Because they are under the skin, you may not always be able to see lipos—you may have to press on your skin to feel them.2
If you inject into a lipo, your body may not absorb the insulin smoothly and consistently. This can affect your blood sugar management.1
Ways to reduce your risk of lipos
Diabetes experts recommend utilizing the two following key strategies to reduce your risk of developing lipos:
Replace your needle every time you inject.
In research studies, the more people reused their needles, the more likely they were to develop lipos.1,2
Always rotate injection sites.
Practicing proper injection site rotation gives your skin time to heal between injections.1,2
Tips for changing injection sites from lipos to healthy tissue
If you did not know about lipos and have only just been told by your doctor to stop injecting into these areas, keep the following guidance in mind:2
- You may need to change to a lower dose of insulin when you start injecting into normal tissue. Your doctor will work with you to make sure you are receiving the right dose.
- Use the shortest, thinnest needles to make injections more comfortable if you find injections into normal tissue mildly painful at first.
- Work with your doctor to develop a rotation pattern. Ask your diabetes care team to check your injection sites at every regular visit, or at least every year.1
- Frid AH, Kreugel G, Grassi G, et al. New insulin delivery recommendations. Mayo Clin Proc. 2016;91(9):1231-1255.
- Blanco M, Hernández MT, Strauss KW, Amaya M. Prevalence and risk factors of lipohypertrophy in insulin-injecting patients with diabetes. Diabetes Metab. 2013;39(5):445-453.