Is SculpSure painful?

A reviewer on SculpSure said she found the heat cycles almost unbearable, and that it felt like someone was holding a fire under her arm! Why is no one talking about this???? Seems like this side effect exists, but no one is mentioning anything!???

Doctor Answers 27

SculpSure is usually well tolerated but everyone is different

SculpSure uses lasers to heat fat and destroy it.  As such, there will be sensation of heat that may be uncomfortable to some.  Think about it like a hot shower.  Some people feel the water is unbearable while others feel it is soothing and very comfortable. The heat comes in waves and therefore is not constant in nature. The heat can also be adjusted in sensitive patients. It is also possible to ask for a cool blast if the heat becomes unbearable. I would recommend that you discuss the fear of pain with your board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon and ask how they plan to address these concerns.  You can always stop the procedure if it is too uncomfortable.  

New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Pain with SculpSure

We have worked out a protocol for SculpSure that gives the best results. Remember, this is a non-invasive alternative that you want to work as well as possible.  At 4-5 minutes, you should have been assessed for "pain" level and the settings adjusted up (until slight/moderate discomfort) or down (to slight/moderate discomfort). At that point in the protocol, the exact setting doesn't matter--the results will be the same. If you have NO sensation, the setting should be turned up to get best result. ViceVersa for too much sensation of heat.

Pain with SculpSure

Everyone is different with regards to what kind of pain they can tolerate.  I've had women proud of the fact they gave birth without medications, but found SculpSure to be somewhat uncomfortable.  Not all pain/sensation is created equal.  If you can imagine the difference between dull, achy muscle pain versus a sharp stabbing pain - those are entirely different and each of us responds differently to them.  I've had people think SculpSure was quite uncomfortable getting flanks done, for example - while the next patient fell asleep getting her flanks done.  It's varies so much from patient to patient.  The good thing is that the rating system allows us to control the intensity of the applicators, even turning one down individually.  I find if I prepare patients for the unexpected, they are usually surprised it's so comfortable.

Linda Hodges, DO
Cedar Rapids Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews


It all depends on the patients pain tolerance. I have had many patients say it was painless while some others didn't find it as relaxing. I have never had a patient who couldn't tolerate or finish the full 20 minute treatment. I have also found it depends on where the panels go, since it is a customizable treatment. For anyone who is feeling discomfort we can always adjust it and/ or give a cool-blast.

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

Pain during Sculpsure treatment

Each patient will feel differently about the procedure. However, the general consensus is that sculpsure is slightly more uncomfortable during treatment than coolsculpting. 

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

I Tried it on Myself First

Great question: Before I used Sculpsure on my clients, I tried it on myself first (and had the nurse use full power). I do that with all procedures to really understand what the patient is feeling. To me, it felt like that warm and cold feeling you get with Ben-Gay or other creams. Some women tell me if feels like mild cramping from a period. I did hot yoga right away after the SculpSure. Some of this will, of course, be dependent on the area and various other factors.

​ Is SculpSure painful?

Thank you for your question. The SculpSure procedure feels like a warm current going through the skin. It is not terribly uncomfortable. The 25 minute procedure is perfectly tolerable. Most patients describe it as having had a workout after. However, each individual has a different pain tolerance and depending on the area being treated they may have more or less pain. This happens rarely and in that circumstance, we lower the settings to meet the patient’s tolerance. Patients who opted for lower settings in the procedure still had results.

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

Sculpsure and pain

Thanks for sharing your question. I can appreciate your concern.

Pain is a subjective issue. I have had the treatment done and I might say that there was no pain during the treatment. as the temperature builds up, there is a tingling sensation that disipates as the cooling wave kicks during the treatment. When there is an area that is tender, the equipment  allows you for decreasing the energy level. 

Over all a very tolerable treatment. 

Wishing you the best in your journey

Pain and Sculpsure

I've been performing Sculpsure since it was first introduced and even had it performed on myself so I've seen the range of sensations from people.  Many people don't feel much at all but a bit of warming, but I've found that the majority feel some tingling and pinching sensations in some areas while the treatments is ongoing.  Very few people feel a lot of stinging and burning.  Because Sculpsure's intensity can be adjusted this doesn't have to be a problem.  I've found that I can manage the treatment by going up and down during the session to make it comfortable.  The secret is that you want to make it as warm as you can tolerate so that it is most effective.  Your physiican should be able to help you through this by adjusting the intensity and giving you some cold blasts throughout the procedure if things get too intense.  Just remember, its like taking a hot shower; when you first get in you have the water pretty warm and then slowly get it warmer as your body and skin get used to it.  Just like this most of my patients get used to the heat right at the beginning and then have an easy time through the rest of the procedure.

Nikesh K. Patel, MD
Freehold Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Pain Should Not Be a Problem

Sorry to hear your friend was so uncomfortable. I am not sure why or she was not made more comfortable during the procedure. We can always cycle towards only a cooling phase, which does a great job numbing the skin. Certainly the power can be decreased - without diminishing the results. Specifically, the recommendation is that patients should feel a warming or tingling sensation, and then the parameters should not be pushed further. One issue is that some folks are a bit nervous when they come in, and that makes the body hypersensitive to pain. We do everything we can to help with relaxation. Also, note from the number of us docs who have treated ourselves, it's really not bad - we are by far the worst patients after all!

Patrick W. Blake, MD
Encinitas Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

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.