Steps to Self Administering a Subcutaneous Injection & Choosing a SubQ Injection Site
Correctly learning how to self administer a subcutaneous injection (subq injection) can help you to get the most out of your medication or supplements.
For many people a subcutaneous injection can create a great deal of pain and anxiety. Proper location and procedure for a SubQ injection can make a world of difference.
Included are some helpful steps to allow you to accomplish proper subcutaneous injection technique:
What is a subcutaneous injection?
The subcutaneous layer is the fatty tissue located beneath the surface of the skin. This fatty tissue sits above muscle tissue and is where you want to inject the solution of the shot. Pinching of the subcutaneous layer allows for ease of administering the injection.
The small needle allows for little to no discomfort while administering a subcutaneous injection into fatty tissue. Other types of injections require penetration into muscle tissue or a blood vessel. These types of injections have fast-acting release. The subcutaneous injection (also know as SubQ Injection or subdermal injection) is preferred because of the lack of pain, slow and gradual release, and because it stays in the body longer.
When a slower release is required, subcutaneous injections are often used. The fatty tissue layer receives little blood flow which means there is a gradual release of the medication when using a subcutaneous injection.
Medications that are often administered through subcutaneous injections include:
Some subQ injections of weight loss formulas are:
- HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin)
- HGH Peptides such as Sermorelin Acetate
- Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin)
Subcutaneous Injection Sites
The locations that are suitable for a subcutaneous injection include: abdomen, thighs, thighs, and sometimes the lower back. Each SubQ Injection site has an area that will experience minimal discomfort. The landmarks detailed below will help you locate the area you can self administer the SubQ Injection.
Landmarks for Subcutaneous Injections
- If this is the subcutaneous injection site you prefer, concentrate on an area just above the hip bone and two inches to the side of the navel (avoiding the belly button). If using the abdomen as the most common injection site, start your injections at the highest point and work down and around in a circle with the belly button in the center. This is the most common site used for HCG injections.
- Upper Arm
- Subcut injections may be made in two areas on the upper arm: the back of the arm and the outer face of the arm. Typically this would fall in the middle area between the elbow and shoulder bone. This area is appropriate for an injection site and usually allows you to pinch one to two inches of skin and fatty tissue.
- Sitting down will help to find the appropriate sub Q injection site. Find the middle area between the knee and the top of the leg or divide your thigh into three sections and use the middle as the site of injection. It is important you can pinch one or two inches of fatty tissue.
- Lower Back
- This site must be done with another person administering the sub Q injection half way between the spine and the side of the body but below the waist and where the buttocks meets the lower back. This is the safe area for a lower back injection.
Choosing a Site to Give Yourself an Sub Q Injection
Using the landmarks described above will help you locate the possible injection sites. It is important to find the place you will be most comfortable self administering the injection. There are a couple of rules you’ll need to follow for proper injection procedures.
- Always rotate injection site
- It is preferred that a different site is used each time you take a shot. This prevents skin changes, infection at the site, scarring, skin irritation, discomfort and tissue damage. It also ensures there is not pain or discomfort from repetitive use of the same area.
- Keep and injection tracking log
- It is a good habit with using subcutaneous injections to keep a log tracking your last injection site, date, and time. This will help you remember which area would be appropriate for your next injection. It can also help your caregiver pinpoint possible cause of symptoms you may have.
Choosing a Sub-Q Injection Needle – Gauge and Length
A sub Q injection needle has three parts: the needle, barrel and plunger. Each part plays an important role in administering the medication to yourself.
- Pierces the body in order to supply the medication
- Contains and measures the medication
- Forces medication into and out of the barrel
When you’re getting your supplies ready there are two components that need to be considered:
- The diameter of the needle is determined by this. The smaller the diameter of the needle, the larger the gauge number will be. The medication amount may be small for subcutaneous injections, so the needle will have a larger gauge number.
- Length (measured in inches)
- The depth the subcutaneous injection goes into your body is determined by the needle size. The needle will be smaller for a subcutaneous injection as it only needs to be long enough to pierce the pinched skin to reach the subcutaneous layer.
A subcutaneous injection has a maximum volume of 2 mL. Any larger amount of medication should be separated into several shots and administered at different sites.
Subcutaneous Injection Procedure
A safe and effective way to give weight loss shots and different kinds of medication is through subdermal injection. A few steps that need to be followed closely before proceeding with the injection include:
- Make sure you’re using the right medication, that it hasn’t expired and is room temperature
- Hands must be washed with soap
- An alcohol swab or appropriate cleansing solution must be used on the injection site
- Prepare the needle and syringe according to instructions that are provided
- Don’t push the entire device into the injection site at the same time. Always inject the medication with the force of the plunger.
Once these steps are completed, you’re ready to administer the shot by following general procedure.
- Choose your injection site by using the right landmarks.
- Wash hands and clean injection site with cleansing solution or alcohol swab.
- Prepare the correct injection dose in the needle (see the “Preparing the Injection Dose Infographic” for instructions if they are not provided with your medication).
- With your non-dominant hand, pull one to two inches of skin and fatty tissue at the injection site. Pinch up the skin. Do not grasp any muscle tissue.
- Quickly insert needle completely into the pinched skin. Most people will be able to pinch around 2 inches of skin and will insert the needle at a 90 degree angle. Some with little body fat may only grasp 1 inch of skin in which case they would insert the needle at a 45 degree angle.
- With the needle inserted, let go of the skin and inject the medication by pushing down on the plunger. Do this until all medication has been inserted.
- Discard the needle appropriately after removing it at the same angle it was inserted.
- Always put pressure with a gauze swab on the injection site.
Tips: Squeamish people may use ice to numb the injection area prior to injection. The gauze pad my be applied to the injection site before removing the needle. This prevents pulling on the skin.