CoolSculting and lymphodema.

I am considering having Cool Sculting done on my arms. I had 8 lymph nodes removed from the right side during breast cancer surgery back in 2011. Can this procedure cause lymphodema?

Doctor Answers 3

Tricky Answer

Great question!!......... Tricky answer.  Coolsculpting is a fantastic treatment with very nice results for those who are good candidates.  Coolsculpting of the arms can be a challenging area to treat as there are a number of variables that need to be accounted for before treatment can occur.  I know of a lot of clinics that will not treat the upper arms as a rule of thumb because of these variables.  Our consults with patients interested in having that area treated tend to be a lot more in depth and detail oriented due to the fact that there is a lot more to take into account when treating the arms compared to other areas of the body. 

Your past medical history of having breast cancer surgery with a lymph node dissection adds another complicated variable.  The short answer to your question is "Yes, this procedure could cause lymphodema."  The procedure does cause an inflammatory response in the treated area and we do warn people that they will probably notice some swelling in the treated area.  This could be of concern for someone like you who has already had manipulation of the arm's lymph drainage symptom.   However, there is a more in depth discussion that needs to take place between you and your area Coolsculpting provider before making your final decision.  

Questions like....
1.  How long ago was your breast cancer surgery?  Was it just a lumpectomy or was it a full mastectomy?
2.  Have you had trouble with lymphodema in that arm since you had the surgery?  If so, has it happened frequently or infrequently?
3.  Did your breast cancer surgeon perform just a node biopsy or did he do a full sentinel node / axillary node dissection?

And of course, after all these questions are taken into account, a full physical exam by your provider needs to take place along with a discussion of expectations ( both yours and your Coolsculpting team's expectations ).

Do some research and ask your provider, "how many arm treatments have you performed?", "have you ever treated someone who has had a lymph node dissection before?", "do you know what a lymph node dissection is and what lymphodema of the arm is? ( and I'm not trying to be funny when i say that is an important question to ask).  

Remember, the Coolsculpting procedure is a non invasive treatment with very little downtime, BUT, it is a medical procedure none the less.  Make sure you ask the right questions and make sure you are comfortable with your team and their skill set.

 Good luck and I hope i was able to answer your question.

Best Wishes,
Steve Comella, MD

Rochester Anesthesiologist

CoolSculting and lymphodema.

Thank you for your question. If you were to get CoolSculpting it would need to be done very carefully. I would recommend seeing a board certified plastic surgeon for a consultation. This way, you can explain your concerns, learn more about the procedure, and determine if it is safe for you. An in-person consultation is always best.Regards, 

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 414 reviews

CoolSculpting of arms after breast surgery

yes it can cause lymph edema. In my practice, I would not treat you because I do not have enough experience in these very specific subset of clients. That does not mean it can't be done. First there have been no formal studies addressing this scenario and CoolSculpting. If you decide to do it, make sure it is a provider who understands the surgery who had as well as the risks involved. In addition. Ask about their experiences in treating other people with a similar history. 
All the bestDr Soni

Hardik Soni, MD
Summit Emergency Medicine Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 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.