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 32

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 30 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.

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

Is Sculpsure painful?

SculpSure uses lasers to heat fat and destroy it.  As such, there will be sensations of heat that may be uncomfortable to some. Think about it like a hot stone massage.  Some people feel the heat from the stones could be 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. A cool blast can also be delivered to the area at any time to help alleviate any discomfort. Due to the fact that everyone has a different pain tolerance, this is something that I recommend discussing in the consultation.

Timothy G. Rodgers, MD, FAAD
Frisco Dermatologist
4.8 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

SculpSure is designed not to be painful

The engineering behind SculpSure is ingenious. It requires that the fat be heated to 45 degrees Celsius without burning the skin. Whereas the skin is very sensitive, fat has no nerve endings and is therefore insensitive. Inasmuch as fat retains heat but skin cools quickly, the treatment involves cycles of 20 seconds of heat followed by 10 seconds of cooling. Each person’s threshold for tolerance at the end of the 20 seconds of heat is different so it is incumbent on the treating technician to adjust the settings so that all that is felt by the patient is a strong warm sensation. As such it is not painful.

Harry Glassman, MD
Beverly Hills Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

​Sculpsure® won’t cause pain.

Just throw that old adage, ‘no pain no gain’ out the window with Sculpsure®. Your 25-minute treatment simply consists of waves of heating and cooling. If you want comfort, beware of Coolsculpting®. First, the tissue in the area is ‘sucked’ up into an applicator (which doesn’t feel good), then that same tissue is ‘frozen’ (which hurts until it goes numb). When the hour-long Coolsculpting® treatment is done and the applicator is removed, your skin is discolored and looks frozen solid in the shape of the applicator (are you getting a visual image?!) and must be massaged back into its proper shape (which reportedly hurts like crazy).

SculpSure treatment discomfort

SculpSure treatment is not painful at all.  On average , the discomfort level is 3-4 on a scale of 0 to 10.  Most likely the setting used for inappropriate for her or comfort measures for not appropriately utilized during her treatment like " cool blast" option or her discomfort tolerance is very low or she was around her period, which increases sensitivity. In my practice, I stay with my patients during the entire treatment and monitor them to make sure the treatment is very tolerable and my patients are able to watch TV or play on their smart devices during the treatment.   I hope that your friend is at least is happy with her results.  Hope this helps.  Best, Dr.Avaliani

Anna Avaliani, MD
New York Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

SculpSure Pain

SculpSure is light/heat energy that will destroy the fat cell.

Had it on myself.  It does burn like a hot bathtub. The cooling cycles are a relief.  I did turn down to 1.00 after starting at 1.10 energy and after 10 minutes went back up to 1.10.  Hurt more than I thought but the machine can be adjusted and one does get use to it. At the beginning it felt like 6/10 but then with the reduction it stayed at 4/10.  When I went back up with the energy it stayed at 4/10.

A few days later noted moderate soreness  that lingered for some days, but able to workout without any problems.

Keith Denkler, MD
Marin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

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 42 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.