Pain immediately after CoolSculpting. Is this normal?

I had CoolSculpting done to my abdomen last week. I was shocked to experience the most excruciating pain immediately after the contraption was removed from my stomach. Enough pain that I was on the floor in the fetal position for 10 minutes crying out in agony. The woman told me that she put it on the highest setting because I said that I had a high pain tolerance. I got online and found nothing about the pain immediately afterward.I am wondering why people haven't spoken about this side effect.

Doctor Answers 9

Coolsculpting and Abdominal Pain

There are a subset of patients who experience abdominal pain.  There is no "high" setting on the machine.  Only one setting in which to apply the adaptor.  If you are experiencing abdominal pain I would definitely recommend that you contact your treating physician for examination. 

New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Pain after coolsculpting

Varying levels of pain are possible after coolsculpting.  It is something included in their literature about the procedure and we discuss it with patients before treatment.  What doesn't make sense is the technician/nurse/MA's comment about putting it on the 'highest setting'.  There aren't high, medium and low settings on a coolsculpting machine.  It just freezes the fat to the ideal temperature via proper placement of the applicator.  

Most patients tolerate the procedure well without post treatment medication. The process of massaging or using radioshock waves to break up the 'frozen butter stick' like fat left when the applicator is removed can be uncomfortable, but not agonizing.   But if you were having pain, you could have been offered ibuprofen or even something stronger.  Because the tiny nerves in the fat get inflamed by the process, prescription neurontin may be helpful for some patients.   

Im assuming from your question that your initial pain has resolved.  If not, please call your treating physician in whose office you had the procedure.

I hope this answer was helpful.
Best wishes

Heidi A. Waldorf, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Coolsculpting and Pain

Some peope get a lot of pain from Coolsculpting, Ive had patients tell me its worse than liposuction!  This pain can be treated with antiinflammatory medications and neurontin.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 190 reviews

Pain Immediately After CoolSculpting

This is definitely a rare occurrence. I would say it probably happens to less than 10% of our patients. The severe pain usually occurs as the applicator is taken off and the hand massage is started. It's most likely from the increasing blood flow to the area that results in a cramping and burning sensation. In all cases, it gets better after 10-15 minutes. Just because this happens doesn't mean that you will have the delayed onset pain that some people have described. On a side note, just because you have a high pain tolerance is not a reason to bump up the device to the highest setting. It doesn't add much of a benefit. Best wishes, and hope you feel better.

Michael A. Zadeh, MD, FACS
Sherman Oaks General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Pain immediately after CoolSculpting. Is this normal?

The cold squeeze and suction of the CoolSculpting apparatus can sometimes cause excruciating pain immediately following the procedure.  It can last 15 minutes and can make you want to go to your knees.  It usually subsides after that time.  Sometimes delayed pain requires a  lidocaine patch or gabapentin.

Thomas Guillot, MD
Baton Rouge Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Pain and CoolSculpting

Thank you for your question. Some patients do experience pain with application of the device, after removal during massage and after the treatment.  It usually resolves on its own with just over the counter or narcotic pain meds.  There is a small percentage of patients who do experience a late nerve pain syndrome that requires lidocaine patches until the nerves recover.  Having said that, this pain does usually resolve in most patients.  Discuss this further with your provider. 

Robert F. Centeno, MD, FACS
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Pain after Coolsculpting

Thank you for your question and sorry to hear about your pain. A small minority of people have pain after coolsculpting, which fortunately resolves after 7-14 days.  It is usually from irritation of the nerves in the area treated, and can be accompanied by some areas of numbness.  For now I would recommend gentle massage of the area and contacting your coolscuplting provider to discuss the pain management until it resolves.  Some people benefit from neurontin during this time, which your physician can prescribe if they think it will help.
For now, hang in there and know that every day will get better.
Best of luck.
Jeff Rockmore

Jeffrey Rockmore, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Pain following coolsculpting

We have been doing Coolsculpting in our office for many years, and there can be significant pain when the hand piece is removed and the area is massaged. I have had this happen myself, and I thought I was going to faint! Fortunately this typically passes quickly and within about 10-15 minutes you feel better and are back to normal. I am not sure why some sites hurt so much and others don't hurt at all. I'm sure it has to do with nerves or muscles tissue being more prevalent in certain body areas or getting more pinched or cooled during the treatment. I have even had symmetric sites respond differently, with one side being fine, and the other similar to what you have described.

Some patients may also experience areas of more intense pain following the procedure for several days, though we have seen this far less frequently. In this situation we have had excellent results using a lidoderm patch that provides localized relief until the area feels better.

When you have and experience such as you did, it does understandably make you more anxious for your next treatment. I would recommend that you have juice and a cold towel readily available at the time of massage, and don't try to get up and walk until this feeling has passed. I found myself expecting the worst, and then being overjoyed when it didn't happen every time. Compared to healing from surgery, I will take the 10 minutes of pain and results of Coolscupting, as I have been thrilled with my personal results.
Best of luck,

Stacey Folk, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Post pain after Coolsculpting

I'm sorry you are having so much pain. It is not uncommon to be experiencing delayed onset pain especially if treated in the abdominal area. After I had Coolsculpting, I used heating pads and compression garment such as Spanx. You may also, ask your practitioner to prescribe neurontin to help the nerve pain. Thankfully, the pain is self-limited and should resolve within 2 weeks.

Good Luck!

Sheila S. Nazarian, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 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.