Type 1 Diabetes: Desperately Dodging Scar Tissue

If you are on multiple daily injections or use an insulin pump, you are all too familiar with scar tissue. We’re taught to rotate injection sites to avoid scar tissue, but somehow it still seems to occur when you’re talking about constant needles piercing your skin.

Within the first few years of my teenage diagnosis, I had hard lumps on the outside of my thighs that occurred after frequent injections in the same favorite general area. I was quite thin then, so they stuck out pretty noticeably. My ex used to mention the abnormally large bumps and tell me to lay off the area with my injections to see if they’d go down. Not only were they unsightly, but the insulin also didn’t absorb well once scar tissue built up. I put on a brave face and tried using my stomach which was a previously forbidden area since my stomach is a sensitive spot for me. I found that it wasn’t as scary as I thought and that I didn’t mind using my stomach. The problem there was that I don’t need a large hard bump on my stomach either. The last thing I wanted was for people to start inquiring about a due date from what resembled a baby bump. “No, nothing is in there. It’s just scar tissue–thanks, diabetes!”

The bumps that accumulate in the vicinity of insulin injections can be maddening, but I thought I figured it out. I decided to inject in my rear. I mean, that area already had some padding so that it would be quite comfortable and who doesn’t want a nice round backside anyway? The Kardashians made it popular to have extra cushioning in the rear so why not? Well, scar tissue beat me once again. After some time, I noticed that the injections in my butt did nothing for enhancing the view and the area still became harder, and my insulin absorption was nil. Well played, scar tissue.

If you are squeamish, you might want to skip this paragraph. I discovered a few women with diabetes that have used their chest to inject. One blogger posted a video and shared that she injects into the chest area right above her breasts. I’m all for rotating sites, but there is absolutely no way I’m doing that! I am way too chicken and freaked out by the mere idea of that to ever go near my chest with my syringes. It did make me wonder, though: would they grow larger because of the scar tissue if used often enough? You would have to use the area equally so you wouldn’t end up with one enlarged breast. That is one experiment that I won’t be trying!

I know that some sites are recommended by doctors as safe injection sites (Note: chests are not on the list!). I currently use my arms, legs, stomach, and rear to try to avoid the scar tissue build up that up to seven daily injections bring. I do have my favorites, though. When you are attempting to keep things painless, you tend to favor the areas that don’t hurt. Life with 21 years of type 1 diabetes sure teaches you some crazy lessons. We see what works for us and what doesn’t. I’ll just keep rotating in the safe zones and hoping for the best!

If you want some guidance as to where you can safely inject, here is a link to an injection site guide that is recommended by the makers of BD syringes: http://www.bd.com/us/diabetes/page.aspx?cat=7001&id=7261

3 thoughts on “Type 1 Diabetes: Desperately Dodging Scar Tissue

  • August 17, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Hi meagan i read your stories hope you are doing good i noticed you mention me in your article i never said anything bad about the lumps you had i remember we were sitting together when dr herman told us you look good hope you are doing good

  • July 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    I have been type 1 for 27 years. I have had a pump for 15.
    I only started having scar tissue problems after I started pump therapy. The only place my sets would stay in was my belly. other sites pulled out or got stuck on things.
    I ended up being a relatively thin person with a big belly. finally now the absorption is so bad that I am forced to move to my hips and butt.
    The scar tissue that I have, I would like to reduce at least.
    Not infusing there will help, but what is really helping is pressure. I started with a pressure bandage, but now I use a Tee shirt that is meant for hernia. The ones that are just to hide your belly didn’t work.
    You need significant pressure and you need to wear it often.
    After about 2 months, the shirt was no longer providing pressure. The lumps are pretty much gone and the size of my belly has shrunken too. I can expect my hips to grow now, but I am trying to rotate sites more. I have even used my thighs, which I never tried before. I use the sets that you insert manually because I find that I can insert in places that were not possible before.

  • March 19, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    I have had type 1 diabetes for 62 years and counting. I’m 73 now and have begun having serious absorption problems. I began in 1959 with two injections daily elevating to five shots daily for over 40 years! I started using a Medtronic Pump around 2000. I’ve been using that with some success since then. Recently however, I’m having those problems with fluctuations in my absorption and consistent hogs and lows. The only thing I can conclude is that the scar tissue has caught up to me! Does anyone know of a successful way to manipulate the areas, used primarily for distribution of insulin, to reduce that hardened subcutaneous tissue and eliminate or reduce the scarring! I feel I have plenty of good years ahead if I can conquer this problem! Anyone?


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