We are told by our doctors that Sculpsure laser melts fat in stubborn areas. But, where does the fat go after it is melted?

My biggest concern about considering Sculpsure is where the melted fat goes after the laser melts it "away". Where does it go? Allegedly it gets "reabsorbed" into the body. But isn't that just moving fat from one area to everywhere all over your body? As we know, matter can neither be created nor destroyed, its one of the laws of physics, so where does the melted fat go?...Especially deadly abdominal fat. Does melted ab fat have the same health risks?

Doctor Answers 13

How does the fat go away with Sculpsure?

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

Unfortunately there are not basic science studies demonstrating the exact mechanism and pathways that the fat goes through with the treatment. It is believed that the treatment favors the self destructive pathway of the cell (apoptosis) favoring the immune system to destroy the injured fat cell. The usual steps are lymphatic drainage that in most of the times may end in the intestine. There are some cases of stool softening due to the secretion of fat. 

Wishing you the best in your journey

Where does the fat go after it is melted by SculpSure?

While no specific studies concerning fat destroyed by SculpSure have been done, it is accepted the the damaged cells will be absorbed by the body's macrophages, broken down and eventually excreted as any other damaged tissue is. 

Curtis Perry, MD
Downey Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Where the fat goes after SculpSure

Thank you for your question. The fat cells are not physically melted, they are heated which causes them to detach from your inner tissues. Once they’ve been detached, the body considers them unnecessary tissue and will filter them through your body just as they would any other loose tissue or particles. The fat will dissipate naturally. There are no health risks from detaching the fat cells. 

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

SculpSure does not "melt" fat cells

First, let's make this very clear, fat cells are not "melted" by the laser in the SculpSure machine.  They are disrupted and then they die.  Our bodies are constantly removing old and disrupted cells in our body on a daily basis, millions of times!!  Our skin cells are constantly being cleared and the cells in our digestive tract are overturned daily.  So, our bodies are more than capable of clearing out dead cells. Unwanted or needed cellular by products are eliminated by our body as solid, liquid or gas (bowels, urine, breathing).  this is normal.

We are all born with a finite number of fat cells.  As our weight fluctuates the fat cells store more or less fat, they get bigger or smaller.  If you remove fat cells by any means, (ie. liposuction, SculpSure, CoolSculpting, direct excision) they are gone forever!  If you gain weight, the remaining fat cells will still store more fat.  You need to think of SculpSure as removing unwanted bulges and changing your proportion, not a weight reducing technique.  You will not gain fat in other areas of the body unequally after fat is reduced from a different area.

There is no health risk with SculpSure.

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

Sculpsure, Coolsculpting, Vanquish

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.

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 her 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
Director-Beverly Hills Breast and Body Institute

Jaime S. Schwartz, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 91 reviews

Where does the fat go?

SculpSure works to damage the cells that hold store fat molecules with heat. These denatured cells are cleared away by your lymphatic system, the body’s cleaners. Think of it this way: what happens when you cut your finger? Those dead cells are cleared away by the lymphatic system and are eliminated via waste disposal (i.e. urine). The laser in SculpSure similarly damages cells, which are then cleared away and eliminated (via urine). You can help your lymphatic system to work by ensuring you drink lots of water and do some light activity (the more blood circulation, the better the system works) after your treatment.

Mark Karolak, DO, FAOCO
Bridgewater Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Where does the fat go

The sculpsure treatment causes an inflammatory response which alerts the immune system.  The lymphatic system takes over removing the damaged cell from your body.  The fat cells are not reabsorbed the lymphatic system flushes them out which is why it important to drink plenty of water and do some light exercise

Timothy Fee, MD
Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 56 reviews


Thank you for your question. The laser disrupts the fat cell and through an inflammatory reaction the fat as well as the fat cell are removed. Your body will then will then excrete the processed fat and fat cell over the next 6 weeks.

Lisa M. DiFrancesco, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

SculpSure and Fat Melting

The fat gets reabsorbed by the body and filtered through the liver and then excreted.  this is the normal process of burning fat and has no affact on your blood cholesterole.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 190 reviews

Immune system carries fat away after Sculpsure

Treatments such as Sculpsure and Coolsculpting, rely on mechanisms to destroy your fat. In your case, Sculpsure uses laser energy to heat fat cell, and in cool sculpting, cooling to destroy your fat. 

Your immune system then activates cells called macrophages that carry destroyed fat via your lymphatics- this is why it is a slow but effective process, that can take up to 3 months for optimal results. 

Dr Davin Lim 
Laser Dermatologist
Fiori Institute
Brisbane, Australia. 

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