I had Sculpsure yesterday on my abdomen and couldn't finish the 25 min cycle. I was on the verge of fainting. Is this normal?

I started sweating profusely, felt nauseous, and extremely lightheaded like I was going to pass out. I was very calm and not nervous but had this autonomic response. I did NOT feel my heart rate accelerating as in normal anxiety attack. I was experiencing some pain near my belly button but it was not excruciating. The other reactions were more alarming. Is this normal?

Doctor Answers 10


Thank you for your question. It is normal for patients to feel a pleasant feeling throughout the whole procedure rather than discomfort you experienced, however, it is not abnormal for a patient to have an unusual reaction to a procedure as our bodies are each unique and thus have different pain tolerances. You may have created a more alarming concern through your anxiety rather than the actual feeling. For that reason, I suggest that you begin at a lower setting level next time. Always consult with a board certified facial plastic surgeon.

Best wishes,

Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Vaso Vagal reactions not uncommon

Some people have a strong vasovagal response to painful stimuli.  This is a reflex nerve reaction that causes sweating, lightheadedness, slow heart rate, low blood pressure,nausea and even unconsciousness or syncope. Certainly, a SculpSure session can cause this, I even had a patient pass out when we just TALKED about pain or discomfort.  Since you did not finish your cycle, I would be surprised if you will see any results from the treatment.  You can try another SculpSure session in the future, but I would anticipate that another vasovagal reaction would occur again.

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Had Autonomic Reaction During SculpSure, Sweating and Nausea

Yes, it does sound like you had an autonomic reaction, and these kind of involuntary reactions can happen to anyone if they have a stimulus that starts the reaction, but this is not what normally happens when patients have a SculpSure treatment.  Review of your medical history, medications, previous episodes or triggering event, and a physical exam could be done by your family doctor. Make sure you are well hydrated and have eaten if you have another treatment, and having it in the lying down position would be advisable if you perhaps were sitting up for part of your last treatment.

Robert M. Lowen, MD
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Uncommon reaction to SculpSure

Hi scienceteach96,While the reaction you do describe is not common, we each have our respective tolerance levels for things like heat, discomfort and pain. An individual's experience can also vary based on the volume of fat in the area(s) being treated. We have had a very few clients have similar experience to yours and those have almost always had empty stomachs. And most of those clients were retreated for the same or an additional area with no adverse events. At MLC we ask patients to have a small meal before the session to help alleviate any faintness or nausea that could arise; the staff knows to offer a snack when the patient checks-in. Minimal pain and discomfort are typically reported as being temporary while the treatment is being administered, yet most clients sit comfortably though the procedure while using our iPad. In your particular case, where treatment was not tolerable and you ceased treatment before completion, I'm sorry to say you can not reasonably expect any real results and will have to start over if you wish to carry on with your body sculpting experience with SculpSure. Please update us on your journey! We love SculpSure and know you will love your results if you choose to move forward with your total treatment plan.Sam Sadler MD - Memphis, TN

Sam Sadler, MD
Germantown Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

SculpSure and Side Effects

This is not a normal response to SculpSure. If you decide to pursue a second treatment in a few weeks, I suggest only going to an expert and close monitoring during the procedure. Best, Dr. Emer

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

Is this Normal?

I am very sorry you had this experience!  We have not experienced any patients having this response to SculpSure in our office.  It is imperative that you be carefully monitored during your treatment to assure the energy levels being delivered are ones that are tolerable by the patient.   It is important to eat and drink plenty of water before your treatment.  Did you have it done on an empty stomach?

Can consider premedication

Pre-medicaton could help with your next treatment.  Your body was reacting to the heat of the laser treatment.  Careful monitoring of the energy levels delivered during will also be necessary in order to keep you comfortable.  The energy levels can be turned up or down depending on your response

Keith Denkler, MD
Marin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Almost fainted during SculpSure treatment to abdomen

I would say your reaction of sweating, feeling nausea and lightheaded is not common with a SculpSure treatment but is possible with any sort of procedure.  The feelings you described are called a vasovagal response and were triggered but the discomfort you were experiencing during the treatment.  This does not necessarily mean the same thing would happen if you were treated again, but you should be closely monitored if you were to have the procedure again.   

Michael I. Echavez, MD
San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

#Sculpsure/#Body Contouring/ #Hi Definition Procedures

Thank you for your question.

Sculpsure is a noninvasive 1060nm diode laser treatment that removes up to 25% of stubborn fat in the treated area in 25 minutes.It is FDA approved for the abdomen and flanks. It is safe if you get pregnant in the future.

The body contouring effects are seen in as quick as six weeks with final results at 12 weeks.

The results are permanent as long as you maintain your weight and health.

The laser targets and destroys the fat cells only which are then naturally removed from the body. Since the laser does not affect the skin or muscle it can be used on all skin colors and there has been no reported incidents of burns when treated by a properly trained physician. It is protective since it alternates heating and cooling.

It has four applicators that can be customized to treat the areas of stubborn fat.

If a second treatment is needed we wait at least six weeks and usually closer to 12.

If you notice lumps after (which I've never seen) I would recommend massage. You should also alert your surgeon.  No compression garment required.

There is no downtime and you can resume your normal activities right after the treatment. There may be some soreness in the area for a few days for which you can take ibuprofen or tylenol. A cold compress can also be used.

Sculpsure is not used for skin tightening however some of our patients have seen this. If more skin tightening is needed we have combined this with thermi or Ulthera for a complete treatment. Sculpsure is recommended for stubborn areas of fat that are not being lost by diet and exercise. It is not a weight loss treatment

Since I have both a coolsculpting and sculpsure I am working on protocols of utilizing both of these depending upon what areas need to be treated and the response to the treatment.

I have used sculpsure on other areas other than the abdomen with very good results.

I also use a Vectra 3D imaging system to try and show people what their treatment areas could look like.

Since Sculpsure outcomes can be based on technique and experience, please see a board certified plastic surgeon that specializes body contouring to see if Sculpsure or other treatments are available to meet your goals.

Take care,

Dr Schwartz

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

Jaime S. Schwartz, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 91 reviews

SculpSure experience

Pain is unique to every patients pain tolerance levels. Most patients tolerate SculpSure treatments very well. SculpSure technology has been developed with the Contact CoolingTM system, which provides the patient with comfort during their procedure. This cooling system eliminates the painful temperature spikes during the treatment, and it remains consistently on to ensure that the temperature is well tolerated by the patient. 

Consult with your physician/technician on pain management solutions to help you complete your SculpSure treatment. 

Cory Torgerson, MD, PhD, FRCSC
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 147 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.