CoolSculpting on arms - severe discomfort. Are there any ways to mitigate the numbness?

I had great results with CoolSculpting on my stomach and back, so decided to have it done on my arms (triceps). My hand felt so numb during the treatment that I had to stop. I would like to try again. Are there any ways to mitigate the numbness?

Doctor Answers 8

Arm CoolSculpting associate numbness

Dear ladyM918:

Coolsculpting is tried and true! Because of this, off-label areas such as the upper arms are also CoolSculpted with very wonderful results.

This technique works due to the vulnerability of fat cells to genetically involute (apoptosis) when reaching a low temperature. Sensory nerves in the areas are affected by the cooling as well. Due to the superficial position of large nerves in the upper arm such as the radial nerve posteriorly and ulnar nerve anteriorly, cooling can affect sensation "downstream" to the hands and fingers for several days or cause heightened discomfort at the applicator site during the time the machine is on. 

  • Sometimes, even a small adjustment in the positioning of the applicator cup is enough to distance the nerve from the cooling plates. 
  • While anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or aleve are recommended against during this process to allow cooling "injury" to occur, these drugs may assist in relief of cooling associated sensory changes. 
  • Massage to the area where the nerve was cooled and /or desensitization touch may hasten return of nerve function. 
I am unaware of any permanent nerve damage. 

I hope this is helpful. Please discuss this concern with your Certified CoolSculpting Specialist!

Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 82 reviews


I appreciate your question.
The applicator needs to be repositioned to avoid underlying nerves
This takes an experienced phsycyain 
The best way to assess and give true advice would be an in-person exam.
Please see a board-certified plastic surgeon that specializes in aesthetic and restorative plastic surgery.

best of luck!

Dr Schwartz

Jaime S. Schwartz, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Coolculpting and arms

Coolsculpting works extremely well on many different areas, including the arms.  Positioning the applicator is essential to avoid this numbness.  Please consult an experienced physician about the careful placement of the applicator for this treatment.

Michele S. Green, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

CS on arms

The numbness typically lasts 3 weeks or so on the arms (where applicator was placed).  If your hands were going numb during the procedure, maybe the applicator should have been moved to another location if possible.  Would definitely tell your practitioner if your hands are still numb though.

Sheila S. Nazarian, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

CoolSculpting on arms...

Thank you for your question. Perhaps you should investigate positioning of your arm during the procedure and speak with the provider about the placement of the CoolSculpting applicator.

Sincerely yours,

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 469 reviews

Numbness on arms after Coolsculpting

If you had numbness in your hands during the treatment, I would recommend trying lower suction parameters, and possibly positioning the arm so it is as straight as possible.  This allows for the least amount of nerve compression during the procedure.  Also, the location of the applicator matters both in terms of avoiding some of the nerves, but also obtaining the results needed.  
I would also recommend that you visit with a board certified plastic surgeon to discuss alternatives to contour your arm.

Young R. Cho, MD, PhD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Numbness in hands during CoolSculpting on arms

Dear LadyM918:

The CoolFit applicator should be used for treatments on the inner arms. it should be positioned posteriorly on the arm and away from the complex of vessels and nerves that begin as the brachial plexus under the armpit.

If your treatment was not performed with this applicator and in this fashion, your symptoms might be prevented during a second treatment.

All the best!

Dr. Clark

Sheryl D. Clark, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Coolsculpting For Arms

Thank your for your question. Coolsculpting is not approved for the arms. Furthermore, based on your first experience I don't think you should attempt it again. If you have arms that someone would do coolsculpting on you may be a good candidate for liposuction which could quite possibly be safer and more effective for you. Good luck. 

Sanjiv Kayastha, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 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.