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September 21, 2000

Insulin Pumps

Question from Oak Forest, Illinois, USA:

I am 14, female and I have a few questions about the insulin pump. I have heard that the insulin pump cause you to gain weight. Is this true, and if so why does it happen? Also, does it cause you to get scar tissue? Are there any other sites besides the stomach the that pump can be injected?

Answer:

The insulin pump does not cause weight gain but any improvement in overall glucose levels causes more of what one eats to be used for either energy or storage. If you improve glucose levels and do not increase exercise or decrease total calories, therefore, weight goes up. If you improve blood glucose levels whether by better management with multiple injections, improved timing or insulin pumps, you will have more food energy available for your body.

Scar tissue (hypertrophy or lipohypertrophy) occurs when insulin is injected in the same spots over and over without site rotation.It happens with insulin injections and also happens with pump insulin. Some people are more prone to this local insulin complication than others. One can use the belly sites for pump catheter insertion since it is the best and most reliable site in the body — and has the least amount of day to day variability of insulin absorption. But, many pump uses can use the thigh, upper arm and upper buttocks area as well.

SB