Injection Sites of a Pump User





I have been using my insulin pump for about 3 and a half years now and have always had my injection site on my abdomen. I was told this is where the insulin should be delivered to have it take effect the quickest. Unfortunately during this time of the year, I have my shirt off at the beach or just swimming and it is exposed to people, sand, water, boogie boards, killer sharks and even jelly fish! Not to mention when I start getting some color whether its a tan or sunburn, every new injection site is being stuck to dead skin. I was losing my infusion set sometimes the same day I put a new one on. Mainly this was because when I would change the location on my abdomen I was now sticking it where I had gotten sunburn or even started tanning and that skin is now dead so the adhesive has nothing to stick to.

Recently I moved the site to my upper leg where there is little to no hair. Most guys are limited to spots where you can put it simply due to have body hair and that was one of the main reasons I always stuck to the side of my abdomen where there was little to no hair growing.

So far I don’t notice any slow down in how fast my body takes in the insulin and it doesn’t seem to be in the way of any daily activities or bother me when I sleep or sit. The one downfall to having it there is the fact that its harder to access for quick reconnects or disconnects. I have to pretty much reach down the side of my pants! Before I just lifted up my shirt and pulled it off.

The image above was found after researching spots where you can inject insulin and the different effects you might experience. When I was using regular syringes I was injecting in my arm and abdomen. When I switched to the pen I was injecting in my abdomen or thigh. While on the pump I have always injected in my abdomen until this most recent refill. In the past I have never noticed a difference in how fast the insulin hits me or had to re-adjust any of my habits.

I am curious to hear where others inject and why, especially pump owners. Also for those of you who change spots, do you notice a difference in how quickly the insulin hits you?

Comments 6

  1. My son has been on the pump since 11 months old, and is 8 now. We started using his upper outer gluteal straight from the beginning, switching sides left and right on the q3day achedule. It’s out of the way of peeping people and stays covered at all times that way. Of course, now that we have had to switch endocrinologists when his first one moved a few months ago, the new doc tells us he has fatty nodules which impair the uptake. He was running high every 3 day, as the site would become saturated. She told us to start using alternate sites, abdomen, thigh, etc, but he still has the original catheters, which are 1″ long and would hurt like hell inserting, so we started using different sites around the scar tissue, but still in his gluteal area. Sugars have been better; I am thinking about asking the office if we should switch to the shorter caths for ease of insertion, but I am afraid that, at 8 years old, he won’t be able to keep it in. You seem like an active person…does the shorter cath get dislodged easily?
    Worried Mom

    • I have never had one just come out on me for no reason. I have been holding my pump in my hand and have had it slip out of my hands yanking on the tubing and adhesive around the catheter. Besides freaking me out it doesn’t hurt, rip off or pull the catheter out from under the skin. The only time the adhesive has ever come off is because I was out in the sun a day or so before at the pool and stuck a new one to dead skin. Now it will pull off very easily. I was always fine with my abdomen, moving it around is easy and its close to your belt or pocket. Try this for a while with the shorter catheters, they will be less painful and hopefully heal quicker after a site change.

      Your son is already a trooper in my book for being so young on a pump. It’s not easy and many kids, especially at his age probably tease him or want to touch it. Confidence is huge and as long as he is confident and comfortable with it, things will be fine.

  2. It isn’t shown on the picture there, but my endocrinologist said it was ok for me to use my lower back. I like them there, since apparently using the same general area for a long time can lead to larger adipose deposits – not cool on my stomach! The only problem I have with sites on the lower back is that they can get a little sore from sitting in the car. I have a long drive everyday, so the can get a little annoying there, but nothing that is unbearable.

    I have also tried the thighs, but I really don’t like them there. I guess I just don’t have enough fat there, so the sites are painful to insert and bruise like crazy. I am even using the little 6 mm catheters. I would like to hear if anyone has tried their arms. It just seems like that would get annoying with the tubing running all the way down to my waist.

    And, to Adonica: I have not had any problems with the smaller catheters. My pump has fallen out of my pocket or the belt clip has come off and yanked the tubing many times. I have also caught the tubing on door handles, etc and have never pulled a site out. (Yet!) You can also make the sites sick better by using the IV preps before insertion. Minimed sells them, they look like alcohol wipes. Just wipe the site like you would with alcohol preps and let it dry before you insert. Those things are awesome – my adhesive always comes up at the edges by day 2 or 3 when I don’t use it.

    • I have met women that will use the pump with it inserted in their arm, they usually have a way to attach the actual pump in their bra or I have seen a belt-like pump holder. It’s elastic and goes around your stomach area and you can position the pump behind you near your back. This might work when wearing loose clothing.

      I used to inject in my arm when I was using the regular syringes and the pens. Now I am on a pump and use my stomach and thigh.

      • The bra trick works wonders – but I have only ever tried it while going out at night and wearing something that doesn’t have anywhere else to stash the silly little thing. I am still a little woried about doing that at work or in class since I can’t just pull it out during a meeting or something and give what I need to. (I am bad about checking my sugar, eating 20 minutes or so later, and then remembering to bolus 20 minutes after that!) I really just don’t feel comfortable bolusing until AFTER I have eaten. Too many close calls when I didn’t eat as much as I thought I would, I guess.

        Maybe I could get the longer tubing sets and try the arm sites. Anyone else use the back of the arm for pump sets?

  3. I have been on a pump for 10 years and I have used it everywhere. The key to that is having a range of different length catheters. When I put in on my arm I use a 43 inch instead of a 23 inch because I can wear my pump on my hip. Of course on the arm is more sensitive because les fatty tissue but we can make it work! It is true that insulin absorption is longer than on the abdomen but you get to know your spots and adjust after using them often enough!

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