Are you wondering how to give an injection in the buttock?
Where the vastus lateralis injection site is?
Or simply how to give an IM shot?
There are many reasons you might need to give yourself an intramuscular injection, for example, to self administer lipotropic B12 shots.
Learning where the best IM injection site is, how to prepare equipment, and how to administer the injections yourself can be an empowering experience versus an overwhelming one.
And you will learn all that and more in this article.
- What is an Intramuscular Injection?
- IM Injection Sites
- Choosing a Site for an IM Injection
- Landmarks for Intramuscular Injections
- Choosing an IM Injection Needle
- Preparing the Injection Dose
- Intramuscular Injection Procedure
- IM Procedure Infographic
- Disposal of Needles and Syringes
- Risks of IM Injections
Please note: I am not a medical professional and the information here is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please ensure you consult a doctor before commencing any new treatment.
What is an Intramuscular Injection?
An intramuscular (IM) injection is a type of shot that delivers medication straight into your vascular muscles.
In terms of weight loss injections, delivery via intramuscular shot is recommended for the following substances:
Advantages of IM Injections
Some medications and supplements can only be given as an IM injection to be able to work correctly.
This is because when certain medications, vitamins, and hormones are taken any other way, they can face obstacles such as travel time that allows for acid degeneration, enzyme breakdown, and the potency being diminished.
This can all affect maximum results from being achieved. Advantages of intramuscular injections are:
- they allow medication to take fast effect
- they deliver medication directly to muscle tissue
- they allow for a direct form of treatment versus sublingual, digestive and skin absorption
Muscle tissue is an ideal location to administer certain medication, even over subcutaneous (area just under the first layer of skin) injections. This is because it has a better capacity of absorbing medication and it has a greater blood supply.
Intravenous injections should only be done by a trained medical professional since they must locate a suitable vein as well as be sure that the medication is safe to be taken intravenously.
For theses reasons, IM injections are the preferred method for many using lipotropic injections (like these).
IM Injection Sites
There are four main intramuscular injection sites on the body. They’re considered safe and effective sites to administer an IM injection. These four areas include:
✓ Thigh: Vastus Lateralis Muscle – Although the absorption rate of medication is typically slower than when taking an IM shot in the upper arm, it’s the best location for an IM shot if you have to administer it by yourself.
✓ Hip: Ventrogluteal Muscle – This is a good place to receive IM injections since it’s less fatty than the buttocks which improves the absorption rate of the medication. It’s considered a very safe location when correct injection procedures are followed.
✓ Upper Arm: Deltoid Muscle – This is the most common site of injections for many vaccines. You’ll want to consider the volume of medication you’re inserting since this site can only hold a limited volume at a time. It’s recommended to not go over 1 mL in adults.
✓ Buttocks: Dorsogluteal Muscles – This is a site that is commonly used and widely accepted. Although this area is not too close to any major nerves or blood vessels, caution is advised since sciatic nerve damage is possible.
Choosing a Site to Give Yourself an IM Injection
When trying to decide which injection site is best to give yourself an IM injection, you need to consider the ease to which you can administer the injection and the volume you’re going to insert.
You’ll need to think about the following factors:
- Are you applying the IM injection alone?
- Do you have someone available to apply the IM injection?
- What is the volume you’re using?
The best IM shot location if you’re alone is in the thigh since it’s very easy to access and see, and it can also handle a larger needle than the arm.
With careful administration and maneuvering, you can apply an IM hip injection yourself into the hip and buttocks.
If you’re inserting a large volume of medication, consider the hip area for an IM injection site since there is a higher limit on the maximum volume of medication.
The maximum limit for the buttocks and thigh muscles is 4 mL, whereas the upper arm is 1 mL (reference). A tip for if the volume is too large for the particular injection site is to split the dosage into smaller volumes and inject at different locations.
This should not be necessary in the case of lipotropic or B12 injections since they are typically recommended in 1mL or smaller doses.
It’s also recommended to switch up the IM sites to prevent any skin irritation and scarring. Whether or not you’re changing location sites, it’s best to try to give the shots a one inch radius of each injection.
You’ll also want to keep a log of where you last administered an IM injection as well as the date and time. Keeping track can help to prevent any skin irritation and any complications that arise with incorrect application.
Landmarks for Intramuscular Injections
IM Shot in Thigh: Divide the thigh area into three equal parts. The middle third area between the upper thigh and the knee is the thigh injection site, also know as the vastus lateralis injection site. Lift this muscle away from the bone to prepare for a thigh intramuscular injection.
Upper Arm: At the top of the arm are bones that form an upside down triangle. The point of the triangle is the axillary line and the base line is the acromion line. Inject needle in the center of this triangle which is one to two inches below the acromion line.
Hip: This is how to give a shot in the hip. Lie down on your side to expose hip that will receive the injection. Place hand where the buttocks meet the top of the thigh. Position hand so that the thumb faces the groin and the fingers face up towards your head. Separate index finger from remaining fingers to form a V shape. Inject in the center of this V.
Buttocks: To find the IM injection landmarks in the buttocks, divide one buttock (cheek) into four equal sections. The upper and outer section is where you’ll want to administer the IM injection.
Choosing an IM Injection Needle – Gauge and Length
The first part to learning about the syringe, is that it has three main components to it:
- Needle: the component that pierces the skin and inserts into the muscle (gauge and length will be discussed)
- Barrel: the chamber that holds and measures the medication
- Plunger: the component that controls administration of medication
The needle needs to be long enough to be able to appropriately penetrate the muscle. The two components of the needle is the gauge and the length.
The IM injection needle gauge refers to the diameter of the needle; the larger the gauge number, the smaller the diameter will be. The typical gauge that’s used for an IM injection is about 22 to 25 gauge.
The length is measured in inches and is typically dependent upon the size of the adult. However, a standard measurement of about 1 to 1 1/2 inches is typically appropriate.
Ensuring the gauge and length of the needle is appropriate for each injection site will help to prevent any pain associated with incorrect application and tissue damage or irritation.
The medication, supplement or lipotropic formulation you receive will in most cases come with the appropriate needles.
If in doubt, this is a matter to discuss with your health care provider to ensure that correct needle gauge and length is used.
Preparing the Injection Dose
When preparing the injection dose there are a few basic instructions that should always be followed. These are:
- Wash and dry hands before handling the injection supplies
- Don’t use a syringe that has been previously opened, used or damaged
- Always use the exact dose that you have been prescribed
- Don’t allow the needle to touch anything other than the medicine vial
- Seek professional advice if you are unsure about any step
- Consider the site for IM injections and decide which is best for you
Below is the general procedure for preparing the injection dose.
Some medicines will require reconstitution prior to use so always follow the instructions provided by the pharmacy and/or your medical professional.
These steps to preparing the injection dose are intended as a guideline only:
» 1. Remove the cap from the medicine vial and clean the rubber stopper with an alcohol swab.
» 2. Check the package containing the syringe. If open or damaged, discard and choose another.
» 3. Remove the cover from the syringe and hold as you would a pen.
» 4. Pull back on the plunger to draw air into the syringe (to the same volume as the dose of liquid you will be using).
» 5. With the vial on a flat surface, insert the needle in the rubber center and push the plunger to expel the air into the vial.
» 6. With the needle still in the vial, turn it upside-down. Ensure the needle tip remains covered by the liquid in the vial.
» 7. While holding the vial upside-down, pull back on the plunger to draw the liquid into the syringe ensuring you draw the correct dose.
» 8. Check for air bubbles by tapping the side of the syringe. Depress the plunger slightly to expel any air.
» 9. Double check you have the right dose of liquid in the syringe then remove the needle from the vial.
» 10. Do not lay the needle down or let it touch anything before proceeding to the injection process.
Steps to Preparing the Injection Dose (Infographic)
Intramuscular Injection Procedure
There are a some standard rules to follow on how to give an IM injection despite the location of the injection site. These are:
- Always wash hands with soap and dry thoroughly
- Always prepare the needle and injection dose appropriately
- Always clean the injection site with an alcohol swab or similar
- Always ensure the intramuscular injection angle is at a 90 degree angle
- If blood appears: remove and dispose of the needle, prepare and apply new shot
- Inject, not push, the needle and medication slowly
You can follow these general procedure instructions to administer an IM injection:
» 1. Choose your injection site using the IM landmarks.
» 2. Wash your hands and clean the chosen injection site with an alcohol swab.
» 3. Prepare the needle and injection dose as per instructions.
» 4. Spread skin taut to reveal the muscle and insert the needle at a 90 degree angle.
» 5. Without withdrawing the needle, slowly and slightly draw it back to ensure you haven’t pierced a blood vessel. If blood is visible discard the needle and begin again in a new location with a fresh needle. If no blood is visible continue to step 6.
» 6. Continue to inject medication slowly until it’s all administered.
» 7. Quickly withdraw needle and discard appropriately.
» 8. Apply pressure to the injection site for a short period of time with gauze or cotton ball.
How to Give Yourself an Intramuscular Injection (Infographic)
Disposal of Needles and Syringes
Needles and syringes should not be thrown in the general trash and are not recyclable. They are subject to state laws regarding proper disposal.
You can request from your doctor’s office or purchase a container to properly dispose of your needles.
If you must, you can use any hard container or a plastic bottle with a secure lid to discard your used needles and syringes. You will need to check with your state’s laws on disposal.
Risks of IM Injections
It’s always advised to check with your healthcare provider prior to taking any medication to rule out any underlying conditions that may interfere with your IM shots.
There are risks to consider when receiving IM injections:
- infection at site of injection
- skin irritation at site of injection
- tingling and/or numbness
- allergy reactions
- nerve or blood vessel damage
- pain at site of injection
If any of these side effects occur, be sure to contact your healthcare provider immediately.
If you experience difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, mouth or face you may be experiencing an allergic reaction to the substance you have taken and you should call emergency services immediately.
Knowing the details of how to properly administer an IM injection of Lipotropic B12 can make all the difference in your weight loss goals.
Consult a doctor before commencing treatment and for correct injecting guidelines.
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Vanessa completed a Bachelor of Naturopathy at Southern Cross University in Australia. She worked in private practice for a decade before realizing her passion for writing. Vanessa has spent the past 4 years ghost-writing for many online publications under various pseudonyms including this one.