For those of you who enjoy the benefits of injecting fillers like Juvederm, Perlane, Restylane, Radiesse, and Artefill for restoration of volume in the face, the world just got a little nicer! The latest advance is the use of blunt tipped cannulas to inject the filler. As opposed to a sharp needle, which can lacerate and puncture blood vessels, cause pain as it penetrates tissues, and allow irregular placement of the filler, a blunt tipped cannula avoids most or all of these issues. A blunt tipped cannula is a very fine, hollow metal tube, very much like a needle, except that it is rounded at the tip, and the hole for injection is on the side of the tip as opposed to being at the very end. Thus, instead of cutting through the tissues like a sharp needle can, once it is in the right level, the cannula easily slides between the tissues where the filler can then be deposited.
Because there is minimal risk of cutting blood vessels during injection, this means not only less bruising, swelling, and pain, but also much less risk of injecting the filler into blood vessels causing a blockage and disruption of blood flow, which can be a problem. In addition, the cannula is inserted through a tiny puncture site in the skin only, and because it is smooth and blunt, there is little to no discomfort once it is under the skin. Thus, most patients are comfortable with only a minimal amount of local anesthetic at the puncture sites themselves as opposed to the wider anesthetic blocks previously used. Lastly, the use of blunt tipped cannulas can increase the accuracy of placement of the filler and produce much better results with less irregularity and lumpiness than with needles. This is because there is more control over depth and location of injection.
While injection of fillers with blunt tipped cannulas is very straightforward and safe in the right hands, it is still a very new technique, and not every injector is familiar with it. There is a learning curve to be able to effectively inject fillers this way. Because of the multiple levels within the face that the cannula can be used to treat, a very good working knowledge of the detailed anatomy of the entire face and its structures, and not just the skin and its surface contours, is necessary when using this technique. As always it is best to have your fillers injected by a properly trained and board-certified physician, but especially in the case of blunt tipped cannulas, your physician should have advanced training in the use of the cannulas for injection.
Properly done, injection of facial fillers with blunt tipped cannulas can be a pleasant and comfortable experience with much greater safety and accuracy which can deliver many months or years of excellent results depending upon the type of filler used.