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Does CoolSculpting Hurt?

If you aren’t familiar with the treatment, CoolSculpting is a quick, no-downtime way to freeze away stubborn, unwanted fat. The most common questions patients considering CoolSculpting ask is “does Coolsculpting hurt?” We’re here to answer that with the honest truth! For a more in-depth look at the treatment, visit our CoolSculpting page.

During Treatment

There are many stages in the CoolSculpting treatment, each with their own unique feeling. The first step to freezing away fat is applying a protective gel pad to the area. The pad is cold and wet, but completely painless. It’s very similar to ultrasound jelly! Next, the applicator will be positioned over the area and suction will pull your skin into the handpiece. The suction isn’t painful and is over in seconds, but it can be a bit surprising the first time you receive treatment. Once the CoolSculpting treatment starts the first 10 minutes trigger cryoliposis, which is the process of cooling the targeted fat cells to freeze and ultimately eliminate them. This will feel increasingly cold and have a mild to moderate sting. On a discomfort scale of 1-10 it is usually described as a 3-5. Once these first ten minutes are over the area will go completely numb, making the rest of treatment more relaxing. Here in the office, we offer drinks and snack, warm blankets, WiFi and a TV with Netflix to make the process more comfortable!

When the CoolSculpting treatment is over, the applicator will be removed and your skin will be slightly pink and numb. The last step in the CoolSculpting treatment is massaging the area to help expedite the elimination of the frozen fat cells. The massage is often done by hand, but we use an acoustic therapy device called the Z-Wave. It’s more comfortable for patients and we have found it to be more effective than the traditional hand massage. This is typically reported to be the most uncomfortable part of treatment, only because you are slowly gaining feeling back to the area. Even so, the discomfort is less than a 5 on the 1-10 scale. Overall the process is described as “weird” or “awkward” more so than “painful.”

After Treatment

The area of your treatment may be numb, tender, or “prickly” for two to four weeks following CoolSculpting. In some cases, patients have experienced mild swelling and bruising in the area. All of this is completely normal! If you bruise easily we recommend taking arnica a few days before and after treatment to help soften bruising. Wearing a compression garment for a few days post treatment is recommended along with performing a hand massage to the treated area three times a day for a few minutes for up to five days.

Advances in Technology

CoolSculpting has come a long way since the treatment was FDA cleared in 2010. Rewind 8 years ago and the technology was not as sophisticated as it is today. With new CoolAdvantage technology came better results and a more tolerable treatment. Early adopters of CoolSculpting often felt lightheaded or nauseous immediately following treatment and reported more pain during the treatment. If you are considering it, and worry that CoolSculpting hurts, be sure to ask the office if they are using the latest CoolAdvantage technology!