Sculpsure - intense pain. Can you explain why?

I had sculpsure done recently on my lower abdomen only and it was very painful. Coming from someone that delivered 2 kids with no pain relief, I consider myself to have a high threshold. I was told there would be very little pain but it was quite the a scorching iron on my skin. I was told I have been the only patient to have that type of reaction. Can you explain why? I have one more treatment left but am frightened...

Doctor Answers 10

Sculpsure pain

Sorry to hear about your experience

Patients who have scarring or stretch marks in the treated area can experience more pain than normal during treatments. It seems that the laser energy may be dispersed differently due to these changes in the dermis. We have sued Cool Blasts and changing the energy settings for specific areas with good success. 

Richmond Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 22 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.

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

Pain associated to sculpsure... reasons

I am sorry that you are having issues about your procedure and thanks for sharing your question. I can appreciate your concern.

In most of the cases I have found that stria or scars capture more energy and for some reason are more sensitive to the action of the laser. Usually coolblasting and antiinflamatories before the treatment should help. Also decreasing the energy to the specific area should help.

Wishing you the best in your journey


Thanks for your question and sorry to hear about your discomfort.  This reaction is very uncommon, but one possibility is that the energy has temporarily injured a sensory nerve in your abdomen.  I suggest you massage the area to try and desensitize the nerve.  I would anticipate that the pain will resolve in a few weeks.  Best of luck!

Jeffrey Umansky, MD
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

SculpSure and pain

It is rare to have extreme pain with SculpSure.  The machinery is very sophisticated and can allow for adjusting during the procedure to adjust for the discomfort.  It is possible that you are not a candidate for SculpSure, anyone with a Body Mass Index of 30 or more has too much target tissue to treat and the treatment would be very painful.  I would ask for a refund and try a different fat reduction technique.

Good Luck!

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

Too hot, painful

Something was wrong. If you are miserable, the power is turned down, if no discomfort it is turned up. When slight to moderate discomfort is achieved the results for different power settings are the same. What adjustments were made? Check with your MD to see what was done/not done so a better experience can be had.  Tylenol 1000mg 30-60 minutes before would be a good idea.  Wait the 6-10 weeks to be able to assess the success before another treatment. The settings start at 1.10 and can go down to .90 or up to 1.40.  

Lawrence Eisenhauer, MD
Encinitas OB/GYN
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Sculpsure and Pain

I myself have had this treatment on my stomach, back and buttock roll without any pain.  Actually it feels good.  It is likely they didn't use the machine properly.  There should not be pain this great from this device.  Best, Dr. Emer.

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


Sorry about your experience.  The heat settings have some ability to be adjusted.
If all of this has been performed on your previous experience, you might consider some oral pain medications pre-procedure.

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

SculpSure Discomfort

Thank you for your question - and I am sorry that you experienced this. However, your experience is very, very rare. I have no encountered it in the hundreds of patients I have treated. Also, I have had this procedure performed, and when cranked up to a high setting, the pain was at its worst a 3 or 4, and only intermittently. There are a number of potentials for your discomfort -  1) The setting was too high. When you have your next treatment, be certain to let your provider know that you would like to start at a low setting and gradually increase. 2) You have an underlying sensitivity in your abdominal area. You may just be more sensitive than that average person either due to prior surgery or just simply where your nerves lay; regardless, the procedure is still the same - start with a low energy level and then gradually increase. 3) The machine was malfunctioning. Before your next treatment, make sure that the machine is up to code, and that others haven't experienced anything similar to you. Hang in there - hopefully your next treatment won't be as uncomfortable! 

Anthony J. Taglienti, MD
Smithtown Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Check cooling system first, re check settings

I personally had this treatment, and rate the pain as 1 out of 10, moving to the highest settings, probably 3 out of 10. I have not heard of this reaction before, but will not dismiss it. 

Firstly, the cooling tip - contact cooling needs to be checked ensuring that there are NO chips. I have seen burns in the past when contact cooling tips fail. Secondly, I would recheck the machine and ensure re-calibrations. You are indeed correct, I can not explain this intense pain, given your high pain tolerance. 

Dr Davin Lim
Laser and aesthetic dermatologist
Fiori Institute of Body Contouring, 
Brisbane, Australia. 

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 75 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.