How does the SculpSure applicator work?

How can it heat up the fat cells and kill them without burning the skin?

Doctor Answers 26

SculpSure Uses Focused Heat

SculpSure uses sapphire glass, a type of diode laser, to produce a laser beam at a wavelength of 1064nm. This is infrared light, the same light that heats the earth's air. The 1064nm wavelength passes through the epidermis and dermis and heats the fat in the same way infrared light passes into your car without damaging the glass while creating heat inside the car. Once the fat hits about 45C, or 110F, it breaks down. Macrophages, a type of cell that responds to injury, reach the site at 4 weeks and digest the dead fat cells. Between 12-24 weeks fibroblasts have arrived and lay down new collagen, which explains the skin tightening effect. So, unlike older generation treatments that shrunk fat cells, these fat cells are dead and gone... permanently :)

Encinitas Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

SculpSure heats the fat cells with precision, without damaging other tissues, including the skin.

SculpSure uses a laser to penetrate through the skin, without causing damage to the skin. In a SculpSure treatment, the first 4 minutes are spent warming the treatment area, with the laser working to heat up the fat cells under the skin. The next 21 minutes are spent with the laser cycling through 25 second warming phases and 10 second cooling phases. These cooling phases keep the laser from over-heating the skin, but ensure the fat cells stay heated to the optimal temperature during the treatment. The fat cells that are damaged during the treatment are cleared away by your lymphatic system, the same way your body heals itself from a cut or bruise, and are eliminated as waste over time.
The SculpSure laser, a 1060nm hyperthermic laser, was selected after years of research and development, because this exact wavelength provides the most specific heating of fat, without disrupting other tissues, including the skin.
Dr. Rox Anderson, the researcher behind laser hair removal and laser skin resurfacing, created SculpSure. You can watch his Ted talks if you’re interested in the more technical aspects of his research – he’s definitely one of the standout medical researchers of our time.

Mark Karolak, DO, FAOCO
Bridgewater Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

How does the SculpSure applicator work?

SculpSure is a light based body contouring technology that is able to target and destroy the fat cells without affecting the surface of the skin. The specific type of laser that SculpSure utilizes is a 1060nm hyperthermic laser. This was chosen because extensive years of research and development revealed that this precise wavelength heats the fat to the exact temperature necessary to destroy fat cells without impacting skin and tissue. The first 4 minutes of the treatment are spent warming the treatment area with the laser to heat up the fat cells under the skin. The next 21 minutes are spent with the laser cycling through 25 second warming phases and 10 second cooling phases. The cooling phases prevent the laser from over-heating the skin, but allow the fat cells to remain heated to the optimal temperature during the treatment. The damaged fat cells are naturally absorbed and eliminated from the body over time.

Scott Chapin, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

The magic of laser physics!

There are many lasers that can penetrate into the skin without causing skin burns and work at a distance away from the point of origin and only affect certain substances!  The 1060nm wavelength of the SculpSure has a very high affinity for adipose (fat) and is targeted at the level of fat under the skin.  In addition there is an integrated cooling system in the applicator to specifically avoid this.  So, when properly used this isn't something to worry about!


The 1060 nm wavelength technology has a high affinity for adipose tissue to efficiently disrupt fat cells in just 25 minutes. Over time, the body naturally eliminates the disrupted fat cells with initial results seen as quickly as six weeks. It is able to hill the cells without burning the skin because it has continuous contact cooling for patient comfort. As soon as it gets hot it immediately gets cold.

Dennis Gross, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.4 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

How does the SculpSure applicator work?

Thank you for an excellent question. The answer is two fold. 1) the laser energy delivered by Sculpsure is at a wavelength that specifically targets fat while passing through the skin. 2) The applicator does two jobs; delivery the laser light and cool the skin with a special cooling plate.

Curtis Perry, MD
Downey Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

How does SculpSure work?

Thanks for your question. SculpSure uses the energy and technology of a 1060nm laser to damage and destroy fat cells. The whole treatment takes 25 minutes. Up to 4 applicators are placed on the area to be treated (abdomen, flanks, etc). During the first 4 minutes, the applicators cycle through phases of cooling to protect the skin and heat that is targeting the fat cell. This first 4 minutes builds the heat. The remaining 21 minutes is a series of cycles between cold and heat to ultimately destroy the targeted fat. This is a great and effective treatment. Some patients do well with one treatment but most require 2 for the best results. I hope this helps!

How does Sculpsure Work?

Sculpsure uses a laser which specifically targets fat cells. The heads themselves are cool on the surface which both helps protect the skin as well as make the treatment comfortable. I personally had a treatment. It felt like intense heat for a minute or so, and then rapidly cooled down. I was talking and laughing with staff throughout, not ripping the arms off the chair in pain. It is uncomfortable for those short periods of time during the heating cycle, but easily tolerable. I saw patients the rest of the day right after with no side effects. On day 3 I had 2 small lumps in my abdomen, these quickly resolved with massage. I am now 9 weeks out from treatment and getting some noticeable results.  

Travis L. Shaw, MD
Richmond Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

The SculpSure process

Thank you for your question. The SculpSure procedure will not burn your skin. SculpSure uses a hyperthermic laser fat removal system that directs laser energy into your desired areas. So it is directing laser energy and not burning the surface of your skin. The laser energy heats the fat cells and surrounding tissues which is only the subcutaneous fat layer (upper layers of fat). The laser does not go deeper than the subcutaneous layer. During the SculpSure procedure, the fat cells are heated which causes them to detach from your inner tissues. Once they’ve been detached, the body considers them unnecessary tissue and will filter them through your body just as they would any other loose tissue or particles. The fat will dissipate naturally.

Bruce E. Katz, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

How Does the SculpSure Applicator Work?

The applicators, there are up to four of them, are held in close contact with the body by elastic straps.  There are sensors that will turn off the device of the contact is not maintained. This is because there is contact cooling of the skin so the laser energy does not overheat the skin. The desired effect is deep in the fat. The laser emits laser energy through the applicators right through the skin into the fat.  The device has been designed to heat the fat to a certain temperature at which the fat cells will die, and maintain that temperature through a 25 minute cycle. It was determined that 24% of the fat was the most that should be removed at once, so that the body can remove the fat cells without causing to too much reaction to the dissolved fatty oil. After 25 minutes the laser shuts off, and over the next three months, fat cells die and are absorbed.

Robert M. Lowen, MD
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 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.