There may be as many as 30 million diabetics in the United States. The disease hits particularly hard on seniors, with an estimated 27% of them suffering from Type II Diabetes. The vast majority are not dependent on insulin. But for the more than half a million who are, they should be testing their blood sugar at least several times a day. The usual method is to use a lancet to prick a finger, then put a drop of blood on a test strip that goes into a blood glucose meter. And that means many of them have fingers covered with tiny scars from those lancet pricks. The process is somewhat painful, and in and of itself may discourage people from regular testing. But now there’s something better.
Meet Genteel – No Pain Lancing
Genteel is an FDA approved lancing device that is, well, revolutionary. It barely penetrates the skin, and causes no pain (at least not to me). The device, which is about the size of a pocket flashlight, relies on a vacuum system to suck out a tiny bit of blood after the shallow penetration. While it may only be a tiny droplet, I’ve found it adequate for testing. Genteel is primed with a strong spring plunger. At one end of the device is a seal that you push snugly against your skin. When you activate it, the lancet barely penetrates the skin, but the seal on the tip of the device enables a vacuum that pulls up the droplet of blood. Because some of us are more thick-skinned than others, Genteel comes with half a dozen sealing contact tips, each allowing a different level of penetration. The system will enable the user to pull blood not just from the finger, but also from anywhere else on the body such as the forearm. It is the first device to have FDA approval to lance anywhere other than a finger. In order to create the vacuum, you hold your finger on the activation switch, making sure not to block the plunger. Then, after a few seconds in which the vacuum forms, you release your finger.
To make things even easier, Genteel’s strong vacuum will allow you to go back to the blood draw site through the day, and by carefully placing the suction tip over the original spot, and reversing the lancet so the point is facing back into the device, you can draw more blood from that same spot without a new penetration. Genteel calls this feature Redraw.
The Milkshake Epiphany
Doctor Christopher Jacobs, the creator of Genteel, had been retired when he was approached by a friend who suffers from Type II Diabetes. He complained about all the finger pricks, the pain, and the scars, and asked Jacobs if he could invent a device to lance without pain. Jacobs noodled around with the idea and came up with the vacuum device. He says he got the idea for the vacuum by watching his grandkids suck up a thick milkshake through a straw. Jacobs realized he could do the same thing with a drop of blood.
Jacobs made three prototypes of that first version, which he says were about the size of a Coke bottle. The first went to his friend and financier. It worked. But it was obviously too large for broad deployment. Jacobs then went through seven years of development efforts to come up with the Genteel device that’s now on the market.
To see if patients really benefitted, Jacobs surveyed 1500 Genteel users to see their results. Most obviously they generally recorded less pain. Additionally, with Genteel, they tested more often, and in so doing were able to better manage their diabetes and reduce their AIC level (long term blood glucose).
Genteel comes in six colors plus two metallic versions. The standard version is available from the Genteel website for $129, though you can get it at Amazon for $99. The metal versions are only available from Genteel for $199.
Genteel also makes its own lancets, called Butterfly Touch. These are available from Amazon for $9.97. The lancets are made with a patent-pending tri-beveled angled tip that ranges from 30g to 36g, and provides a pain-free lancing experience. Those with thicker skin can still get the required amount of blood for their test meter while taking advantage of a thinner gauge to avoid pain.
Here’s a video that shows how Genteel works.