• Julia Flaherty

Comparing CGMS: Freestyle vs. Freestyle Libre 2 vs. Dexcom G6


Before I dive into my comparison, I first want to address that I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to try the Freestyle Libre, Freestyle Libre 2, and Dexcom G6 CGMs over the years. I realize not everyone has had this opportunity, and I recognize that gap. (It needs to change!) I thoroughly believe everyone should have access to affordable healthcare.


There have been times where I wouldn't have been able to afford these devices due to insurance problems (and being younger), but I have finally arrived at a place in my life within the past few years where I can feasibly maintain the costs of these devices. They are all worth the investment, in my opinion.


Unfortunately, insurance often plays a large part in determining the way we manage our type 1 diabetes. For me, this has absolutely been true.



A Little Background...


The first CGM device I ever tried was the Dexcom G6, and it was life-changing! I had some generous help to be able to afford the device at first, but once my insurance changed the following year, I needed a more cost-effective option. So, unfortunately, I only had it for a few months at first.


Despite this change, I still didn't want to go without a CGM anymore. So, I switched to the Freestyle Libre, which was about a third of the cost of Dexcom for me (even without insurance), at the time. It was a struggle to figure out whether I needed to bill it to my pharmacy or medical benefits through the years as well, which played a role in determining which device I was able to afford.


If you are in the same boat, please reach out to your CGM and/or insurance rep to help you figure this out. It can save you time and heartache in the long run! I have gotten it wrong over the years and literally paid the price.



Freestyle Libre


I used the Freestyle Libre device for the first few years of my life with a CGM. While I enjoyed having a steady stream of blood sugar level numbers coming in and the knowledge about whether I was rising or falling, there were some inaccuracies I didn't enjoy. I sometimes found that the readings on my Freestyle Libre device were up to 100 points away from the blood sugar readings I took via fingerstick. 😫


This was crazy and unacceptable to me! While I realize there could be a number of factors that led to this, I still feel as though it should never have been that off. Imagine treating a 200 BGL when it was really only 100. That can be extremely dangerous...


Of course, this wasn't the case for me everyday of my life while using the Freestyle Libre CGM, otherwise I wouldn't have had it and just stuck with fingersticks. Still, it happened often enough for me to have made this lasting impression.


Some people with type 1 diabetes will tell you the same about Dexcom. I am unsure if this is a result of everyone's body working differently and responding better to different technology or medications, and I in no way discredit or criticize this feedback. I am sure this is the case, and I am so happy there are options out there to accommodate every individual. Finding the right management style is often, unfortunately, a trial and error process.


For me, I have found the Dexcom to be a more reliable device, but I'll dive into that a little later. When I have calibrated my Dexcom, it has been only about 20 points off at most in the past.


One major reason that your CGM can read so differently than your fingerstick is because they are reading different things. Whereas a CGM measures the glucose under your skin, a fingerstick reading will tell you your glucose levels in your blood at an exact moment in time. (Cleveland Clinic)


Other reasons may revolve around user errors. Here are the key takeaways of my experience with Freestyle:


PROS:

  • Not having to test my blood sugar with fingersticks as much.

  • Having the knowledge of whether I'm rising or falling; being able to proactively manage my type 1 diabetes.

  • Needed to be changed every 14 days versus every 10 (like with Dexcom).

  • 1/3 of the cost of Dexcom (even without insurance) for me. (Remember, everyone is different and depending on your insurance you may find that one is covered better than the other.)

  • Excellent and speedy customer service when device needed to be replaced earlier than anticipated. Able to reach customer service on my preferred channel.

  • Small and discrete device. Did not catch on anything easily to be ripped off.

  • Can share data with your doctor easily with the app and/or native reader device. (I was unable to do this with the phone I had at the time, but this is a capability that it offers, to my knowledge.)

CONS:

  • No alarms.

  • Unable to self-calibrate.

  • Adhesive is not as strong - needed to be replaced more than desired/anticipated and needed to purchase and use additional adhesive patches to ensure their longevity.

  • Inaccuracy of blood sugar readings (sometimes 50-100 points off).

Truthfully, while the cons of the Freestyle Libre outweighed the pros for me, I would still much rather have it than no CGM at all!


If you haven't tried one yet and are considering it, I wouldn't let the cons I've listed stop you from giving it a try. (This is just one person's experience.) If your insurance covers any of them, even if in part, and you are curious as to whether it will improve your quality of life with type 1 diabetes, I would implore you to seek it out.


CGMs aren't for everyone. Alarms, for example, might cause anxiety and stress for some folks, and therefore take a toll on your emotional care. For others, alarms create accountability and provide a source of support and reliability. (That's definitely what I've found to be true!) What works for you is wonderful.


You don't need to do what anyone else is doing. I would just say to not be afraid of change and trying. Be open to new things with your care. It may turn out to be an excellent step forward. You will learn more about yourself and your body in the process. Growth exists outside of your comfort zone.


Remember, you can always return to former methods of care if you find that it doesn't work for you!


#FreestyleLibre #FreestyleLibreReview #CGMs #CGMcomparison #CGMreview




Freestyle Libre 2


I tried the Freestyle Libre 2 as soon as it came out to the US marketplace. I was very excited to give it a try because it was supposed to be an upgrade from the Freestyle that now included alarms! I missed the alarms the Dexcom G6 had, and the Libre 2 still came at 1/3 of the cost for me compared to Dexcom. (It sounded like a win-win!)


However, I still found the inaccuracy of the original system to be consistent in this update. That was disheartening, but as I mentioned above, I still would've rather had it than no CGM.


The pros and cons were mostly the same for me as they were with the Freestyle Libre:


PROS:

  • Alarms included.

  • Not having to test my blood sugar with fingersticks as much.

  • Having the knowledge of whether I'm rising or falling; being able to proactively manage my type 1 diabetes.

  • Needed to be changed every 14 days versus every 10 (like with Dexcom).

  • 1/3 of the cost of Dexcom (even without insurance) for me. (Remember, everyone is different and depending on your insurance you may find that one is covered better than the other.)

  • Excellent and speedy customer service when device needed to be replaced earlier than anticipated. Able to reach customer service on my preferred channel.

  • Small and discrete device. Did not catch on anything easily to be ripped off.

  • Able to use with your phone. (I did not use this feature as I switched to the Dexcom G6 before I had a chance to use the new app for the Libre 2.)

  • Can share data with your doctor easily with the app and/or native reader device.

CONS:

  • Unable to self-calibrate.

  • Adhesive is not as strong - needed to be replaced more than desired/anticipated and needed to purchase and use additional adhesive patches to ensure their longevity.

  • Inaccuracy of blood sugar readings (sometimes 50-100 points off).



#FreestyleLibre2 #FreestyleLibre2Review




Dexcom G6


Now, let's talk about the Dexcom G6!


Although I had it first in my CGM history, it was only for a brief period, so I think my most recent experience over the past year is more telling. My insurance changed in 2021 in a way that made the Dexcom G6 more accessible for me, so I switched back. It was a relieving change!


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And may I just take a moment to remind you that this is in no way a sponsored post, but a truthful account of my experience with a variety of CGM technology. I do not mean or intend to bash any of these CGMs in the process, as I find the technology to all be beneficial and advanced for the community. I am happy we have these options in this space. I feel that by sharing our experiences we can more effectively manage type 1 diabetes and provide the companies with necessary feedback for improvements.


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Now...


I have found the Dexcom G6 to be a more reliable and accurate device. While it stinks that it's a lot more costly than the Freestyle Libre and Freestyle Libre 2, it is worth it to me.


Here are the pros and cons I've found while wearing the Dexcom G6:


PROS:

  • Alarms included.

  • Not having to test my blood sugar with fingersticks nearly as much.

  • Having the knowledge of whether I'm rising or falling; being able to proactively manage my type 1 diabetes.

  • Ability to calibrate.

  • Only 10-20 points off when calibrating, compared to my experience of being 50-100 points off with Freestyle Libre or Freestyle Libre 2 that didn't even have the ability to be calibrated.

  • Fewer, if any, issues that needed to be brought up with customer service.

  • Small and discrete device. Did not catch on anything easily to be ripped off.

  • Adhesive is a little better with the Dexcom G6 for me, but I still have additional patches on hand that I sometimes use closer to the end of my 10-day cycle with the device to ensure it stays on through the use period.

  • Able to use with my phone via the Dexcom G6 app; don't need to bring the native reader with me everywhere that I go.

  • Can share data with my doctor easily.

CONS:

  • Need to change every 10 days versus every 14 days (compared to the Freestyle Libre and Freestyle Libre 2).

  • More costly than the Freestyle and Freestyle Libre 2 devices for me.

  • More difficult to get a hold of customer service if/when issues arise.



#DexcomG6 #DexcomG6Review


If you have the opportunity to try a CGM and are curious about it, I say - go for it! I hope you find this review to be helpful and wish you luck in this trial and error process that is managing type 1 diabetes as you go and grow in life.


Whatever changes you go through, remember the most powerful tool you have is your attitude in type 1 diabetes management and life as a whole.


You got this, and you are never alone! Stay strong, warriors. 💙


#LifeWithT1D #T1DLife #type1diabetes #type1diabetesawareness



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