Many different instruments are used to deliver dermal fillers, but one technique that’s increasing in popularity is injecting fillers with a cannula

Before cannulas came onto the scene, needles were the only method available for injecting fillers. Cannula needles were approved for commercial, tissue filler use in 2012, after which aesthetic clinics began offering cannula injected fillers to their patients. 

While needles are stiff and precise, cannulas are flexible, thin, and blunt. Practitioners still use needles to treat their patients, but more and more practitioners are using cannulas as an alternative method. 

So, which method works best? Should practitioners use a cannula or needle for fillers? 

In short, cannulas are thought to be the superior injection method by many aesthetics experts. However, traditional needles are good for injecting fillers in precise areas, which we’ll cover below. 

What’s The Difference Between A Needle and Cannula?

Practitioners can decide whether they should use a cannula or needle for fillers by understanding the difference between the two techniques. 

Needles and cannulas have the following differences:

  1. Physical Form
  2. Injection Method
  3. Number of Entry Points
  4. Recovery and Downtime

1. Physical Form

The main difference between a cannula and a needle is that a cannula tip is blunt, whereas a needle tip is sharp. Cannulas have a thin, flexible tube, but needles are rigid and still. A cannula’s tube can move easily beneath the skin, but a needle’s tip stays stiff, both before and during injection

A cannula’s flexibility makes it good for delivering filler smoothly in larger places like the jawline. However, it’s not the best for treating areas that require more accuracy. Thanks to their thin tip and firm structure, needles that can place small amounts of filler accurately in particular areas, like smokers' lines. 

A cannula’s flexibility makes it good for delivering filler smoothly in larger places like the jawline, but it’s not the best for treating areas that require more accuracy.

2. Injection Method 

Needles and cannulas penetrate the skin differently during filler injections. Needles are sharp and can pierce skin easily. Aesthetic practitioners can use needles to place filler into smaller areas, without other tools or techniques. 

As cannulas have a blunt, rounded tip, they cannot pierce skin by themselves and will need further assistance. If a cannula is needed, practitioners will use a needle to puncture the skin first, creating an entry point for the cannula. 

Needles are sharp and can pierce skin easily, but cannulas have a blunt, rounded tip, so they'll need further assistance to puncture the skin.

3. Number of Entry Points

Unlike cannulas, needles are shorter and need more entry points to treat a complete area. As cannulas are longer and flexible, they only need one insertion point. 

Cannulas can go through one entry point several times, reducing the need for several insertion points. This reduces the discomfort felt by the patient, which can make the appointment go smoothly overall. 

4. Recovery and Downtime

As noted above, cannulas lower the need for multiple insertion points. This reduces the risk of infection, which encourages quicker healing and recovery. 

A significant concern with needles is their stiff form and sharp tip. Needles have a higher chance of piercing arteries or veins. This can cause complications like bruising, swelling, or in serious cases, intravascular injection. 

Intravascular injection occurs when dermal filler enters an artery or vein. This can lead to dangerous problems, like necrosis, where lack of blood flow leads to the death of body tissue. Cannulas have a lower chance of causing these problems as they have rounded tips.

A cannula's blunt edges can push past any veins or arteries below the skin, reducing the chance of bruising and bleeding. As cannulas have a decreased risk of piercing arteries, they have a lower risk of intravascular injection and necrosis. 

Are Canuulas Safer Than Needles?

Cannulas have a lot of advantages that can make a patient’s experience more comfortable. Cannulas are associated with fewer entry points and less downtime, the patient can resume regular activities without swelling or bruising linked with needles. 

Despite their advantages, cannulas aren’t entirely pain or risk-free. Cannulas may involve fewer entry points, but patients can feel the tube moving beneath the skin. Most patients don’t find this painful, but unusually uncomfortable. 

Cannulas may have a lower risk of swelling and bruising, but using the tool doesn’t entirely prevent skin damage. An aesthetic practitioner’s skill, technique, and experience with a cannula matter here. If the injector is more skilled with using a needle and opts to use a cannula instead, the patient may experience more swelling or bruising. 

People seeking fillers should always consult with a qualified aesthetic practitioner who understands how to use both cannulas and needles, including which method works best for your desired results. 

At You Can Clinic, our Dermal FIller courses cover both cannula and needle filler techniques to give practitioners confidence in practising each method. You’ll learn how to use both tools safely, as well as how to choose between the two when you treat patients in the future. 

We conduct our practical dermal filler courses in Cardiff, Swansea, and Bristol. To book onto the course, check out our website, or give us a call at +44 (0)2921 678747 to find out more. 

Cannulas may have a lower risk of swelling and bruising, but using the tool doesn’t entirely prevent skin damage. An aesthetic practitioner’s skill, technique, and experience with a cannula matter more.

What Works Best For Fillers: A Cannula or A Needle?

A needle and a cannula both have their advantages and disadvantages with injecting filler. The best method depends on the treatment area, the practitioner's skill, and naturally, the patient. 

A practitioner may feel more confident using one dermal filler method, either a cannula or a needle during appointments. Other practitioners may feel comfortable switching between the two techniques based on the filler case.

Most skilled injectors have ended up in the middle by using both methods. This gives them the advantages of each method, like using a needle for accurate filler details, then moving to a cannula for larger areas, like the cheeks. 

More perceptive patients may prefer their injector uses a cannula for safety purposes, or a needle for precise work. Despite the patient's wishes, their preferred filler method might be incompatible with their features or expected outcome.

Practitioners need to assess the patient’s characteristics, skin quality, and desired results to decide which injection method is best, then communicate this, along with aftercare advice to the patient. A skilled, experienced, and well-trained clinician will be able to achieve their patient’s filler wishes with a low level of risk and patient discomfort. 

Cannulas and needles have their advantages, but the most important factor in filler treatments is the practitioner. Being skilled in using both a cannula and needle is essential, as well as staying up to date with the latest filler techniques. This helps aesthetic practitioners and patients work in tandem to achieve natural, attractive filler results.

Being skilled in using both a cannula and needle is essential, as well understanding which technique is best for the patient. 
We hope this post helped answer whether a cannula or needle for fillers is best.


You Can Clinic is one of the UK's leading providers of aesthetic training courses and pharmaceutical supplies.

Over 1000 individuals have progressed through our affordable programmes, which provide extensive coverage of all relevant aesthetic procedures, which are available from beginner to advanced courses.

Do you see yourself in the industry? Check out our articles on Botulinum Toxin, Weight Management, Eyebrow and Eyelash and Dermaplaning Training Courses. 

Written by Rosh for You Can Clinic.

May 13, 2024 — Jemima Thomas