Why is no anesthetic offered for CoolSculpting? Just because we're to believe it's painless?

Why isn't some form of topical anesthetic used for those of us who do experience pain (not just discomfort) when the device is applied? Had Coolsculpting on my lower abdomen using the small device. The left side was done first, and no real discomfort. The right side was then done, and I almost rose up off the chair because it did (no kidding or embellishing) hurt like h-e-double hockey sticks. Why can't some sort of anesthesia be offered to those who do experience pain during the procedure?

Doctor Answers 6

Coolsculpting and Pain

Most often the treatment isn't painful enough to need oral or injectable medication.  Topical numbing would have no effect.  Best, Dr. Emer.


Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 165 reviews

CoolSculpting Pain

Dear tondalea:

CoolSculpting is not painless but it's also not painful. 99+% of patients tolerate the initial discomfort easily and do very well with the massage at the end. Sure there is some discomfort but compared to the thermal options out there, this is COOL! 

For those patients anxious about pain, we offer them a sedative but they must then arrange a ride and understand they will be impaired for the rest of the day. A few take Tylenol and rarely will someone need a stronger narcotic for a day or 2 (and only after the front of the tummy is done a week or so later). I took Tylenol and ibuprofen for my discomfort.

Next time, arrange a ride and ask for an oral sedative to diminish the anxiety associated discomfort. All the best!

Dean P. Kane, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

CoolSculpt and pain

Hi,
 It seems that you had a bad experience with the procedure.  At the present time, there is no topical anesthetic that can help in that it does not go deep to the tissues being suctioned into the CoolSclupt applicator.  If one were to inject into the deeper tissues, then the process would not work as effectively because of the fluid distortion.
 Perhaps something by mouth pre treatment might be an options.  
 Discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon to get the best options so that you would not have to experience the same pain as you did.

Why No Anesthetic With CoolSculpting?

The discomfort from the initial application of the CoolSculpting device is due to the pressure of the vacuum as the fat is drawn up into the applicator. Local anesthetic has no effect on this pressure sensation. As the cold temperature sets in you go numb. The cold is the best anesthetic. Hope this helps clear things up.

Michael A. Zadeh, MD, FACS
Sherman Oaks General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Coolsculpting does not require anesthesia

The issue with anesthesia and cool sculpting is that topical anesthetic isn't going to numb up the deep tissues where the pain that you describe is coming from.  If one were to try t inject local anesthetic into that area it would require so much as to be, dangerous as well as distort the tissues you are trying to treat.  A general anesthetic is cost and time prohibitive.  The appeal of coolsculpting is you don't have to be anesthetize do to receive it.  Can people have the discomfort you describe, sure, but it is a rare occurrence.  And would it really be worth doubling the cost of the procedure to go to sleep with anesthesia and increase your risk of complications?  Everyone who owns a coolsculpt machine says no, because your reaction is the exception and not the rule.  Try is again on a different day and you will probably have a different reaction

Melinda Haws, MD
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Coolsculpting and pain

Coolsculpting does not hurt during the procedure.  The area is frozen and as such requires no topical anesthesia.  There are a subset of patients who get pain after the procedure.  Best, Dr. Green

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