Zeltiq CoolSculpting - Pain, Bruising, Risks?

Does Zeltiq hurt? What are the risks? Does it depend on how much suction/temperature doctor uses as to if there is bruising/pain afterwards?

Can Zeltiq cause nerve damage? Cause Other problems? Can the suction pressure be controlled by the dr? Is the Bigger suction more painful than using 2 smaller suctions for the stomach? Pre/post treatment care? How long has it been being used in the states? in Europe? What are the complications?

Doctor Answers (35)

Coolsculpting tolerable and minimal post procedure discomfort

+4

Coolsculpting is very well tolerated during and after the procedure. The first 10 minutes of the treatment is definitely uncomfortable and bordering unbearable for some. This sensation goes down quickly. I have found that the abdomen tends to be the the most uncomfortable both during the procedure and afterwards. The overall discomfort does depend on the amount of tissue stretch that accompanies the suction of your tissue into the Coolsculpting probe. The more tissue is pulled into the probe, the greater the overall initial discomfort and chance for post-procedural discomfort. This is one of the reasons the abdomen may be more sensitive. I have also prescribed Neurontin at times for people who have high degree of discomfort due to hypersensitivity as the nerves recover from their stretched state. This may last ~10 days give or take a few days. The other perspective that I share with patients is that the overall level of discomfort is still much less than a surgical procedure such a liposuction or a tummy tuck. Almost everyone returns to work immediately. Liposuction requires at least a few days off, and a tummy tuck can require a good week or two off of work.


Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Zeltiq Coolsculpting risks and side effects

+4

Zeltiq is one of the safest procedures available, especially among fat reduction procedures.  It was FDA-approved for fat reduction in September of 2010 and has been safely used in Europe for approximately 5 years.  The reason why it is so safe is that the cold exposure is not to such an extreme that it immediately kills fat cells;  rather, the cold exposure initiates natural programmed fat cell destruction, which is why it takes 2 months to see the results.  The exposed fat cells naturally degrade and the byproducts excreted by your body.  The only contraindications to undergoing Zeltiq is if you have rare conditions of cold-intolerance. 

The procedure may be slightly uncomfortable during the first few minutes of treatment, but it is more of an odd pulling and cold discomfort than pain and gradually turns into a barely noticeable numbness.  This odd feeling is greatest with the largest treatment head/applicator, and less with the small and medium applicators.  Immediately after the procedure, the treated area may have mild to moderate tingling, numbness, and soreness.  Mild bruising is sometimes seen, but is uncommon.  The soreness may last for 2-3 days and feels like the muscle soreness you get after a round of intense exercise.  The tingling and numbness feels just like the sensation your skin has after intense cold exposure.  It lessens over time and is usually limited to 2-3 weeks.  Zeltiq does not cause long-term nerve damage.

With standard settings, there should be little if any bruising or pain.  Sometimes the vacuum settings are increased in thinner individuals to get proper exposure of the treatment area to the cold applicator.  The higher suction could increase the chance of bruising, though it is still usually minimal and limited.  The temperature is currently not altered in the current model of the Zeltiq device.

When a device like this comes along that claims to be so effective with so few risks, it is usually too good to be true, but with the Zeltiq device, it is both good and true.

Narin (Dr.Joe) Apisarnthanarax, MD
Houston Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

CoolSculpting Risks...and Benefits!!!

+2

CoolSculpting by Zeltiq has been FDA approved since 2010.  Each treatment can lead to a  20 - 25% reduction in fat in the area treated.   Multiple treatments can be performed in the same area but I suggest that you wait at least 2 months before undergoing a second treatment.  The beauty of the treatment is that the risks are minimal and there is essentially no downtime!! Some patients can get some bruising because of the suction but this is temporary and usually goes away in a week.  Other temporary complaints include numbness in the skin treated and ache in the area of treatment.  These are temporary as well and the ache can be easily treated with Advil.

The suction and temperature are not controlled by the doctor..this is controlled by the device.   Because the larger handpiece has more suction, it may be slightly more painful at the beginning of the treatment than the small one, but subsides in 5-10 minutes. 

While it will not provide the fat reduction that is seen in liposuction, there is nothing else that can reduce fat, is FDA approved and has no downtime.  It is perfect for the person who does not want an invasive procedure.

Louis C. Cutolo, Jr., MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

CoolSculpting is safe but all treatments have some risk

+2

The CoolSculpting fat reduction device by Zeltiq has been on the market now for a couple of years.  The FDA cleared the device in Sep. of 2010. Some side effects include but are not limitied to: bruising, which  can occur from the suction, like a hickey it goes away by itself in one to three weeks usually.  Some skin sensitivity or numbness can occur and also normally resolve on its own in several weeks to a coupe of months. There usually is slight swelling.  Very rarely is there exquisite pain for a few weeks after that can be controlled with medication usually. There is no guarantee of success but the average patient loses 20% of fat volume seen in four months after the treatment. A more thorough discussion can be rendered during your consultation with your physician as the above list is not complete.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Coolsculpting by Zeltiq is well tolerated

+2
Most patients feel some pulling and discomfort only for the first 10 minutes while the applicator is placed.  Once the area is cooled, it is a painless procedure that takes one hour.  Some patients may feel some temporary numbness at the site for approximately one week after Zeltiq. It has been in Europe and is approved for all areas in the body in Europe.  Proper suction is required into the applicator to free the area and achieve the correct results.  That is why it is important to go to a well qualified physician for the procedure.

Michele S. Green, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

CoolSculpting by Zeltiq is comfortable - tips and thoughts

+2

Most patients say that there really wasn’t much hurting after, my skin felt a bit numb, there was some sensitivity, and maybe there was some bruising, but that all went away. But there are some patients who have had discomfort afterward, almost a nerve pain like-feeling, that has resolved in all patients. But there is a fuller answer possible here. For instance, throughout the history of liposuction, all patients were given form-fitting compression garments after their procedure to avoid swelling, bruising, and discomfort, and achieve “best results”. So the big question with CoolSculpting® is why not use a compression garment, just like after liposuction? It has worked so well for all of these years, so CoolSculpting patients should wear them for a few days, maybe a week, (not the weeks needed after lasers and liposuction). What have we found? Wow, what a big difference for comfort after CoolSculpting®, with a few days use of a compression garment.

Douglas J. Key, MD
Portland Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Is CoolSculpting Painful?

+2

CoolSculpting has a very high acceptance rate amongst patients and doctors.  It advantages are that it does not require any sugery, incisions, anesthesia, needles or downtime.  The risks are minimal and include some transient minor bruising. Most commonly patients may experience some mild discomfort after the procedure which generally subsides in 1-2 weeks.  Its unusual for patients to have significant pain after the procedure but in all cases to date in which it has happened the pain seems to  subside within one months time.Regarding the larger applicator,  it would seem intuitive that it would entail a larger risk of post procedural pain but a recent study I saw stated that the use of the larger applicator was not associated with greater incidence of post procedural pain.

Ted Brezel, MD
Long Island Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Zeltiq Coolsculpting: minor discomfort

+2

There is usually a mild transient pain upon starting the procedure especially when suction begins.  This is short lived and most patients are relaxed and don't feel any pain the remaining portion of treatment time  Any bruising is temporary and in our experience last no more than 18-24 hours, most times there is none at all.   We have had a few patients feel some numbness for up to several weeks.  Our patients are generally very happy with this no-downtown treatment.

Joshua L. Fox, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

CoolSculpting by Zeltiq FAQs Dr. Persky

+2

Hi Anon,

You are full of questions, aren't you?

CoolSculpting by Zeltiq can be uncomfortable during the first 5 to 15 minutes when the vacuum grabs the skin and fat.  Once the tissue is cooled, it is not painful at all.  Some patients are uncomfortable after the treatment for a few minutes as the frozen fat thaws, describing a sensation of pins and needles.  There are not any significant risks or complications in properly selected patients.  There can be minimal bruising after treatment, but I have not seen this in any of my patients.  There is temporary numbness of the area treated which may last up to two weeks, but always resolves. The larger hand piece is a bit more uncomfortable than the smaller hand piece.  Zeltiq has been used in Hong Kong for the past 3 years, in the US for over one year. 

For a look at my personal description of what my CoolSculpting by Zeltiq experience was like, click on the web reference below.

Good luck and be well.

Dr. P

Michael A. Persky, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Zeltiq CoolSculpting - Pain, Bruising, Risks?

+1
Coolsculpting has minimal pain, bruising, downtime, and risks. I had the procedure 1 month ago. The actual cool sculpting treatment was very pleasant with no pain and only slight pressure. Once removed the massaging took place and my love handles were somewhat tender. Over the next 3 weeks the love handles did not hurt but were tender to touch/any kind of pressure. Motrin helped and so did heat. I never had any other problems. Some patients complain of nausea with the abdominal area. Coolsculpting has been around about 5 years.

Kurtis Martin, MD
Cincinnati Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.