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Physician Tools > Inject Using a Pre-filled Syringe

Performing an Injection Using a Pre-filled Syringe

Watch our video on how to correctly give a subcutaneous injection using a pre-filled syringe.

Video Explanation of the Subcutaneous Injection

Download our handy Injection Mat to guide you with your injection.

Using a Pre-Filled Syringe to Inject Medicine Under the Skin

We’re going to teach you how to perform an injection under the skin. This is also known as a subcutaneous injection or subq injection.

But first, there’s an important concept about these injections you need to understand. When you take a tablet the small blood vessels in the stomach and bowel absorb the medication. A subcutaneous injection leaves a small amount of medication under the skin. Just like in the stomach, the small blood vessels absorb the medicine but this time they’re in the skin!  So you can be assured that you aren’t injecting the medicine straight into the blood!

We’ll be demonstrating using a syringe that has been pre-filled with medicine.

Now many injectable medications come in pre-filled syringes.  Each syringe might look a little different but they are all the basically the same. Each pre-filled syringe has 4 basic parts:

  1. A needle cap (which is removed)
  2. A needle
  3. A barrel which contains the medicine
  4. And a plunger

Let’s get on with the injection.  We’re going to teach you how to inject using four basic steps:

  1. Step 1: Gather your supplies
  2. Step 2: Choose an injection site
  3. Step 3: Inject the medication
  4. Step 4: Dispose of the syringe

Step 1: Gather your supplies

At we’ve prepared a special “injection placemat”.  This will help to make sure you’ve got all of the necessary supplies. Place your “injection mat” on a clean table or surface.  You’ll need:

  1. Your pre-filled syringe.  If it has been in the refrigerator it’s a good idea to let it warm up for 30 minutes.  If you’re not sure, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
  2. A clean gauze or tissue
  3. And finally a puncture proof “sharps container” to dispose of the unused syringe

If you’re missing any of the supplies, talk to your local pharmacist.

Step 2: Choosing & preparing an injection site

It’s important to start by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

A subcutaneous injection can be given into the thigh, the abdomen, or the upper arm. It’s best to choose a different site for each injection at least an inch away from a previous injection. You can easily inject into your abdomen or thighs but you’ll probably need help from another person if you want to inject into your upper arms. It’s a good idea to rotate your injection sites.  For example, this week you might place the injection in your thigh and next week your abdomen. You can also use the upper arm if someone else is injecting. If you’re injecting into your abdomen stay away from the 2 inches around your belly button.

Don’t inject into an area that is tender, bruised, red, hard, or one that has scars or stretch marks.

Step 3: Injecting the Medicine

Remove the needle cap from the syringe. Don’t touch the needle or allow it to touch anything else.

Pinch a fold of skin at the injection site. Gently insert the needle at a 45-degree angle under the skin. Release the skin and slowly inject the medicine. When the syringe is empty remove the needle.  Apply pressure with a cotton gauze or tissue for about 10 seconds.  It’s normal to see a tiny drop of blood.

Step 4: Disposing of the syringe

It’s important to dispose of used sharp syringes in a proper container. These containers can be found at your local pharmacy.  They are often referred to as “Sharps containers”

Don’t ever put the needle cap back on the needle as you or someone else may accidentally poke themselves with the needle.  Simply take the used needle and place it in the Sharp’s container.  Store the container in a safe place out of reach of small children. When the container is 2/3 full, tape the lid closed and discard of it as instructed by your local pharmacist.

Giving a small injection under the skin is really just that easy. If you have any questions or concerns please talk to your doctor or your nurse.