Steps to Self Administering a Subcutaneous Injection (with Infographics)

Getting the most out of certain supplements and medications might just mean that you need to learn how to correctly self administer the injections. Don’t squirm up your face just yet if you have an aversion to needles! Knowing how to properly use them and where to locate injection sites can take all the pain and anxiety that you might have, away. Learn how to give yourself subcutaneous injections so you can get the best weight loss results possible.

Please note: I am not a medical professional. It is your responsibility to consult a doctor before commencing any new treatment. Information on this website should NOT replace the advice of your doctor.

What is a Subcutaneous Injection?

There is a fatty layer of tissue just beneath the surface of the skin called the subcutaneous layer. This layer of fat sits above muscle tissue and is the target area of where you want to inject the solution of your weight loss shot. The subcutaneous layer is made up of fat cells and can be easily pinched for the administration of an injection.

Subcutaneus-LayerWith a small needle and fatty tissue as the target, there is little to no pain or discomfort associated with subcutaneous injections (also known as Sub Q injections). This type of shot is a preferred way to receive injections for the following reasons:

  • little to no pain
  • slow and gradual release
  • stays in the body longer

Other types of injections such as intravenous shots require a blood vessel and intramuscular injections require deep penetration into muscle tissue. Those types of injections have a fast-acting release that delivers the medication straight to where it’s needed most.

Subcutaneous injections are often used when a slower release is preferred. Because there is little blood flow to the fatty layer of tissue a gradual release of the medication occurs when it is injected subcutaneously. In fact, it can take approximately 24 hours to fully absorb into the body which means you have a greater opportunity to use more of the substance as it is gradually released. This means you’re getting the most out of your medication to aid in your weight loss goals.

Typical medications that are administered via subcutaneous injections are:

  • insulin
  • vaccines
  • epinephrine

The various weight loss formulas that are best administered via sub Q injection include:

Subcutaneous Injections Sites

There are four suitable locations for subcutaneous injections: upper arms, thighs, abdomen, and even in some cases, the lower back. At each site you need to find the right location to inject the medication to experience the least amount of discomfort and the most effectiveness from your shots. Look for the landmarks detailed below to correctly locate where you can safely self administer the shot.

Landmarks for Subcutaneous Injections

Sub Q Injection Site - AbdomenAbdomen: Avoid the belly button area. Concentrate on the area below the waist, two inches to the side from the navel, just above the hip bone. If this is the preferred site to inject most of the time, make sure that you start injections at the highest point first and work down and around one inch apart at a time. Imagine a donut shape with the belly button as the hole giving it a one inch no-go radius.

Sub Q Injection Site - Upper ArmUpper Arm: There are two areas on the upper arm that are suitable for subcutaneous injections: the outer face of the arm and the back of the arm. As a typical rule, the middle area between the elbow and the shoulder bone is all appropriate for an injection site. In this area you should be able to pinch about one to two inches of skin and fatty tissue.

Sub Q Injection Site - ThighThigh: Sit down to locate the appropriate injection site. From the knee to the top of the leg where the hip bone and leg meets, you want to find the middle area. You can also divide your thigh into three equal parts and use the middle section as the injection site. Ensure you can pinch about one to two inches of fatty tissue.

Sub Q Injection Site - Lower BackLower Back: If you choose this location for your sub Q injection it should not be done alone. You will require another person to administer the injection. Below the waist but just above where the buttocks meet the lower back is the area that’s safe for a subcutaneous injection. You’ll want to safely have someone administer the shot in a half way mark between the side of the body and the spine.

Images depicting subcutaneous injection sites sourced from:

Choosing a Site to Give Yourself an Sub Q Injection

First correctly locate the possible injection sites by using the landmarks described above. This will help give you an idea of where you feel you will be the most comfortable self administering a subcutaneous injection. Once you have decided where you want to start, you’ll need to follow a couple standard rules to ensure you’re correctly adhering to proper injection procedures.

Always rotate injection site – This helps to ensure that you don’t experience any pain or discomfort from using the same area too many times. It also helps to prevent skin changes, discomfort, skin irritation, infection at the site, and tissue damage and scarring. If you do use an area more often than others, start high in that area and work your way down one inch at a time. It’s preferred that you use a completely different site each time you take a shot.

Keep an injection tracking log – Keeping a log that tracks where you last injected, the date, and time of this shot is a good habit to develop when using subcutaneous injections. This will help remind you which area you can appropriately use next to inject yourself. It can also help your caregiver isolate the possible cause of any symptoms that you may experience.

Choosing a Sub Q Injection Needle – Gauge and Length

There are three components to a sub q injection needle: the plunger, barrel, and needle. These parts play an important role in self administering the medication.

  • Plunger: forces medication into and out of the barrel
  • Barrel: contains and measures the deposited medication
  • Needle: pierces the body to supply the medication
Parts of a Syringe

When it comes to the needle, there are two components that need to be considered when you’re getting your supplies ready:

Gauge – this determines the diameter size of the needle. The larger the gauge number, the smaller the diameter of the needle will be. For a subcutaneous injection, the medication volume may be relatively small, and so the gauge number will be larger than other needles.

Length (measured in inches) – the subcutaneous injection needle size is important since it determines how deep it goes into the body. For a subcutaneous injection, the length will be relatively smaller than other needles. It only needs to be long enough to pierce through pinched skin to penetrate the subcutaneous layer.

When you purchase weight loss shots that require subcutaneous administration from you will be supplied with Insulin syringes. These typically range from 28 gauge to 31 gauge and common needle lengths are 12.7 mm (1/2″) and 8 mm (5/16″) – (reference).

The maximum volume for subcutaneous injection is 2 mL. Large amounts of medication should be divided into several shots at different sites.

Subcutaneous Injection Procedure

Subcutaneous injection is considered a safe and effective way to administer various medications and weight loss shots. There are a few general steps that always need to be adhered to before proceeding with the injection. These are:

Ensure you’re using the right medication, check expiry date, and let it warm up to room temperature
Always wash hands thoroughly with soap
Always clean the injection site with an alcohol swab or appropriate cleansing solution
Prepare the needle and syringe as per instructions provided
Always inject the medication with the force of the plunger, never push the entire device in at the same time

Once these steps have been done, you’re ready to follow the general procedure to self administer the shot.

» 1. Choose your injection site using appropriate landmarks.

» 2. Wash hands and clean injection site with alcohol swab.

» 3. Prepare the needle and injection dose (see the ‘Preparing the Injection Dose Infographic‘ for instructions if not provided with your medication).

» 4. Grasp one to two inches of skin and fatty tissue at the injection site with the thumb and index finger of your non-dominant hand. Pinch up the skin. Ensure that you’re not also grasping any muscle tissue.

» 5. Quickly insert the needle all the way into the pinched area of skin. Typically most people will be able to pinch up approximately 2 inches of skin and will comfortably insert the needle at a 90 degree angle. Those with little body fat may only be able to grasp 1 inch of skin. In this case insert the needle at a 45 degree angle.

» 6. With the needle inserted, release the skin and inject the medication by pushing down on the plunger. Continue until all the medication is inserted.

» 7. Remove the needle at the same angle it was inserted and discard of appropriately.

» 8. Put pressure on the injection site with a gauze swab.

Tips: If you’re extra squeamish, use ice to numb the location site before injecting. You can also apply the gauze pad to the injection site prior to removing the needle to prevent pulling on the skin.

How to Administer a Subcutaneous Injection (Infographic)

How to Give a Subcutaneous Injection Infographic 620px


Disposal of Needles and Syringes

Needles and syringes should never be disposed of in the trash or in the recycle bin. They are products that are subject to the unique disposal laws of the state that you live in. Use a bio-hazard container to properly dispose of your needles and syringes. If you don’t have one, first seek out a metal or hard container that is considered a non-recyclable product. If this is not available to you, you may use a hard container with a secure lid or a plastic bottle with a lid to insert the used needles and syringes into. Ensure you then label these with “non-recyclable” so as to not mix it up with recyclable items.

Risks of Sub Q Injections

To inject subcutaneously presents very few risks when done correctly under medical supervision. Any complications that occur are typically due to allergy reactions to the medication used and/or improper application of the injection. These could produce symptoms and side effects such as:

  • itchiness
  • redness
  • swelling
  • infection
  • tissue damage
  • nerve damage

If you experience any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to contact your health care provider. If you develop any signs of allergic reaction after the injection is given (shortness of breath, rash, swelling of the face, lips or mouth) immediately contact emergency services.

These shots are easy to use and are an effective way to get the most out of your weight loss injections. With a little know-how, you’ll never go back to watered-down, oral weight loss medication again.

Consult a doctor before commencing treatment.

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