FreeStyle Libre: the glucose meter without puncture

The FreeStyle Libre system is a non-puncture glucose meter that is worn on the upper arm and provides real-time blood sugar readings. It is intended for people who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, especially those who take insulin.

It is a continuous meter that does not require a blood sample from a fingerstick. It is manufactured by Abbott, a well-known company that produces other diabetes-related products, as well as nutritional drinks and infant formula.

How does it work?

The FreeStyle Libre system provides real-time glucose readings every minute, 24 hours a day. There are two systems to choose from:

  • 14-Day Freestyle Libre System, approved for adults 18 and older.
  • Freestyle Libre 2 system, approved for adults and children from 4 years.

This new generation non-puncture glucose meter does not require a bulky transmitter. Instead, a small, waterproof sensor with a tiny probe is attached to the back of your arm with the applicator provided. The FreeStyle Libre tests the fluid in the space around the cells, which is just as effective for glucose control as the blood in the capillaries (small blood vessels, like in your fingertip).

One hour after applying the sensor, the system is ready to work. The sensor takes a glucose reading every 60 seconds . A stand-alone reading device remotely captures and logs readings on demand. Then you can see the results individually or see the trend of glucose levels over time.

To obtain a reading, we will place the reader 2 centimeters from the sensor. We can scan the sensor as often as we like, but it is recommended to scan at least once every eight hours. The sensor can be used for up to 14 days and stores 90 days of results. After 14 days, the sensor stops working and needs to be replaced.

Price and availability

FreeStyle Libre systems are available at pharmacies with a prescription . The price of the sensor is around €54 for the FreeStyle Libre 2 and €108 for the FreeStyle Libre 2 starter kit. The reader is free if you download the app on your smartphone.

For people with private insurance, it may be a bit more affordable. Additionally, the FreeStyle Libre system uses test strips called Precision Neo test strips for fingerstick testing. A box of 50 individually wrapped strips costs around €20. Using other test strips with the built-in meter may cause an error.

Aside from ease of use, the FreeStyle Libre is lower in cost than other glucose meters on the market.

freestyle libre glucosa sin pinchazo


Non-prick glucose monitoring devices like the FreeStyle Libre offer advantages over traditional fingerstick monitoring. Studies have shown that people with diabetes who test their blood frequently have more stable glucose levels. They also have a lower A1C, which is a measure of long-term blood sugar control.

Devices of this type are also better at preventing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), including nocturnal hypoglycemia. With the FreeStyle Libre system, you don’t need multiple fingerstick blood draws each day to make sure your glucose stays within the normal range.

In addition to being more convenient, the device is painless . This can motivate people to take their glucose readings more often.

Another unexpected benefit of the FreeStyle Libre system is that it appears to reduce the cost of diabetes care. This meter reduces the annual cost of health care for people living with diabetes by more than 50% compared to finger-stick test users.

It is also convenient for travel, work and other instances when we are on the go. We can also track glucose trends on our smartphone through an app after purchasing the system (available with some models).

Additionally, the sensor is waterproof for short periods of swimming and bathing in a few meters of water. This can give us data on insulin when exercising in a pool.


However, the FreeStyle Libre system has some limitations. Among them, the original 14-Day FreeStyle Libre is not equipped with an alarm function and may not be the best option for people who are unaware of hypoglycemia. This is a condition where people don’t realize when their blood sugar levels have dropped severely.

Although this no-prick glucose machine was about 92% accurate in studies, inaccuracies can sometimes occur. This can happen when there are rapid changes in blood glucose, such as after eating, injecting insulin, or exercising. Severe dehydration can also affect the readings.

Because of this, the Libre FreeStyle reader has a built-in blood glucose meter. This allows you to perform a fingerstick test to ensure that your glucose measurement reading is accurate. This is especially helpful if the diabetic says their glucose levels are too high or too low.

The FreeStyle Libre Sensor is waterproof, but should not be submerged for more than 30 minutes . Unused sensors can be stored at room temperature in a dry place.

There are also people who report that it can cause irritation at the sensor insertion site. Perhaps it is a great disadvantage for those who do not want to be pricked.

freestyle libre aparato de la glucosa sin pinchazo

Who should use it?

The FreeStyle Libre brings the freedom to take frequent blood samples throughout the day via finger pricks. It may be easier to use if we have to travel. This non-prick glucose meter is also waterproof for up to 30 minutes continuously, so we don’t have to worry about the sensor being destroyed after a quick swim, shower or bath.

However, this blood glucose monitor may not be suitable for all diabetics . Because there are concerns about accuracy, your doctor may recommend a traditional blood glucose monitor if your condition causes frequent spikes or drops in glucose.

We may also consider having a backup monitor with traditional blood tests in case you experience symptoms of hypoglycemia that the FreeStyle Libre does not display. Please note that FreeStyle Libre is not approved for people on dialysis or pregnant women .