Are there any studies on long-term effects of Sculpsure?

I know that it's a pretty new procedure....have any studies been done on long-term effects? If the lasers are able to "kill" fat cells, how do we know that there isn't significant damage done to other cells in your body? Is there any correlation between laser exposure to the body and cancer?

Doctor Answers 12

SculpSure Appears to Be Safe

Really intelligent question. Although SculpSure appears to be safe, some of the above answers are from docs who don't seem adequately informed on SculpSure and lasers in general. 

I, and the FDA, believe that SculpSure is safe. Otherwise I wouldn't be treating my patients, staff, and family. However, less than 200 patients were treated prior to FDA approval last May, and less than 19 prior to 2013. We didn't know some of the side effects of CoolSculpting until we had follow-up on thousands of patients. So, we do NOT know if there are any long-term side effects. There is evidence that infrared wavelengths might cause the body to need DNA repair (search: Low-intensity red and infrared lasers affect mRNA expression of DNA nucleotide excision repair in skin and muscle tissue), a sign that the technology can likely injure DNA. And, there is still some concern that lasers may cause cancer in birthmarks (go to Pubmed and search Lasers for nevi: a review)

That said, diode lasers (the type SculpSure uses) first came into clinical practice in the mid-1990's, so there is a long track record of safety in general. Also, the fact that SculpSure produces low-level energy with heating only to about 45C is very reassuring.

Cynosure, the manufacturer, SPECIFICALLY recommends caution in patients with a history of squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, immuno-suppressed state (such as HIV), or nerve problem (such as diabetic neuropathy). If there is any concerning mole or cyst over the site to be treated, I remove it. For patients where I have a level of concern, I have consulted with Cynosure's Medical Director directly, because patient safety is always the number 1 priority. 

Encinitas Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

#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

Long term data on sculpsure

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

The studies are as old as 2 to 3 years. However, the same technology has been evaluated with SmartLipo. By following the same principles, smartlipo has not been found to be harmful to deeper structures.

Wishing you the best in your journey

Sculpsure Long Term Data

Simply put, we do not have long term data on Sculpsure patients (5-10 year follow up).  However, the energy used, a 1060 nm diode laser is believed to be very safe.  There is a great deal of long term data about lasers in general, which are reliant on a specific wavelength of light energy, and show no evidence of carcinogenesis.  This is not a concern I have for my patients, myself, or my staff who have received treatment with this laser.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Long term safety of Sculpsure has been verified.

The safety of this treatment is absolute, with no correlation between cancer and laser exposure, not only for this treatment but all laser treatments. 

Sculpsure, out of all my treatment methods (Coolsculpting, Velashape, Themage, TriPolar) remains my favoured. Why? Because it is well tolerated, take 25 minutes.... and- it works!

Choosing the correct method to reduce unwanted fat is the key to success, and a one to one consult with a Specialist in this field is my best advice I can give you.


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

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

Lasers effects long term

Hi Ocbrit,

Thank you for your questions.  I can understand your concerns. There is a lot of misinformation out there about how lasers work and what may be the long term effects of their use.  Allow me to answer your questions directly:

Long term effects of LASERs:
LASERs were first produced in 1960 and have evolved significantly to be used in everything from pointers in presentations, to weapons in the military.  Their use in aesthetics has had a dramatic effect on non-surgical treatment of tattoos, skin tone and texture, wrinkles, fat, cellulite and even some surgeries.  We know that the only long term side effects involve your vision. Since all LASER light can be concentrated in your eye, protective eye wear must be worn during many treatments.  However, this is not the case with SculpSure due to protective features that exist in the machine.

Why aren't other cells injured during fat treatment?
The beauty of LASERs is their ability to focus treatment on a very specific target.  This target is called a chromophore (color).   By adjusting the wavelength, power and medium, the LASER can target specific cells in the body.  When those cells absorb the energy from the LASER, they begins to heat up.  The other tissues have different chromophores that are essentially invisible to the LASER.  In Sculpsure, the target chromophore is fat and the wavelength is 1060nm.  As the fat cells heat up, they have the potential to heat the cells nearby, through contact heating.  However, this heating of adjacent tissues occurs much more slowly than the fat this is directly stimulated.  The genius behind SculpSure is that it is able to get fat cells to a temperature where they are disrupted, while leaving other tissue completely intact.  

LASERs and cancer:
There has never been a cancer caused by the use of  LASERS.  This is because the LASER does not use an ionizing radiation and thus, has no effect on the DNA in our cells.  Ionizing radiation comes from X-rays or materials that put off this energy like Uranium or other products found in a nuclear reactor.  

I hope this level of detail is reassuring and not too confusing. 


Dr. B

David Boudreault, MD
Palo Alto Physician
4.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

SculpSure is FDA approved

Thank you for your question. SculpSure is FDA approved and required many clinical trials before passing approval. The SculpSure procedure will not damage other cells in your body. It is a hyperthermic laser fat removal system that directs laser energy into your desired areas. The laser energy heats the fat cells and surrounding tissues, thereby agitating the fat which causes them to release from your tissues. Then, your body naturally removes the fat cells and leaves the treated area flat, firm and tight. The heat helps promote collagen or elastin for tight skin. Our patients have seen great results after treatment. If you are interested, it’s always best to have an in-person consultation so that a qualified physician can assess your desired areas.

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

Sculpture Results and Long Term Issues

Sculpture has no long term side effects. I have had treatments done and I love this much more than any other device and we combine it with Vanquish to improve the outcomes.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 191 reviews

SculpSure is safe

The FDA has approved SculpSure for non surgical fat reduction in the abdomen and flanks.  To obtain FDA approval is very difficult and time consuming.  It requires not only safety records of the device, but long term studies that prove it is effective, safe and does not cause undue harm.  Lasers of this type do not cause cancer and the only cells targeting are those nasty fat cells we all hate.  Go with confidence, this is 21st century magic medicine at work!!!

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

Long term effects?

Fat cells seem pretty innocent and do not regenerate in an abnormal way. They are storage cells not biologically active in changing their function over time, merely their size.  Also, the 1.5-2.5 cm depth of the heat will not hit other tissue in this area.  This is not an energy that keeps going to depths.

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