Lumpy skin from insulin injections? Here’s what you need to know!

What is ‘Lipohypertrophy’?

Lipohypertrophy is when lumps appear under the skin, due to continuous injections in the same area, over a period of time.

The lumps are made up of fat that has become swollen due to constant injections.

Diagnosing lipohypertrophy can be slightly tricky. If you think you may have lipohypertrophy in some of your injection sites, bring it up in your next meeting and a specialist will be able to advice you.

Why can Lipohypertrophy can be an issue?

The formation of lumps under the skin can impact glucose control and here is why…

Insulin can get trapped in little pockets inside the lumps, meaning absorption is not occurring as it usually would. This can cause spikes in glucose levels.

Also, if this insulin starts to be released from the pockets, it can then cause low glucose.

Another potential issue is feeling self-conscious about the appearance of this area and feeling like you have to hide away.

I used to feel really self-conscious when I had lumps on my legs, but people never noticed the lumps until I pointed them out. We are always overcritical about ourselves, so try not to worry about it!

How to treat Lipohypertrophy

Lipohypertrophy is extremely common for people living with diabetes, and can resolve itself, so don’t panic!

If you have been diagnosed with lipohypertrophy, avoid injecting in this area until the lumps have fully gone down. This can take 2-3 months, if not more, depending on how large the lumps are.

It is important to avoid massaging the area because there can still be excess insulin in the area. Massaging the area will stimulate the release of this insulin, meaning there could be a risk of a hypo.

Preventing Lipohypertrophy and rotating injection sites

To prevent the appearance of lumps under the skin, it is vital to make sure you are rotating your injection sites!

Sometimes it is hard to remember to rotate your injection sites because it is an automatic process, it is common to inject in same area just out of habit!

Here are some tips on preventing lipohypertrophy!

  • If you like injecting in your stomach try injecting in a clockwise or zig-zag motion throughout the day (see picture below).
  • Don’t be scared to inject further round on your waist or hips if you are struggling with your current injection sites.
  • If you prefer to inject in your limbs, remember to switch arms and legs with every injection.
  • Do not neglect your glutes! This is a large area for injecting, I personally always inject my slow releasing insulin in this area.
  • One final tip is to make sure you are changing your needle with every injection! If needles are repeatedly used, they become more blunt. This means the needle will cause more damage when it is injected into the skin, potentially contributing to lumps underneath the skin surface.

Thanks for reading! Please email me any questions or feedback!