During Sculpsure treatment, does lowering or increasing the intensity effect how much fat cells it destroys? Or does it matter?

I had Sculpsure done yesterday and I read answers on this site stating there is minimal pain associated with this procedure. I can say, without a doubt, this was a 8/10 on the pain scale. This was not comfortable at all. But I am totally pain free immediately post treatment fortunately. I'm confused why the doctor would keep the levels so high if I were in so much pain, unless it works better that way.

Doctor Answers 11

If you can tolerate it, it is better to keep the setting high

if you deliver more energy and you can tolerate it, it will probably destroy more fat cells. the discomfort was short lived and it should be worth it for you.

good luck

david berman md

Sterling Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Pain During SculpSure

Thank you for your question.  Pain is a very subjective thing - the exact same stimulus may be perceived as painful by one person and totally comfortable by another.  With SculpSure, the company trains its providers to adjust the power levels to the point where the patient feels a little discomfort, but not intolerable - more like a 4 or 5 out of 10 (not 8).  It  may be possible that the settings were as low as they can go and you were still feeling pain.  At my office, we always try to set the power to the point where the patient is at least feeling mild discomfort (2 or 3 out of 10), but occasionally, we have gone up a little more (4-5/10) in the belief that more energy delivered equals better results.  I say "belief," because there are no studies to show that this is true.  With that said, the good news is that you should expect some good results, given your degree of pain.  Pain after treatment is also variable, both from one patient to the next and also from one site to the next.  For example, when we first received our SculpSure device, we, of course, had to try it out on ourselves.  One of my staff did her tummy and also her outer thighs; I did my left abdomen and left love handle (now I'm a little lop-sided, lol).  Well, my love handle hurt quite a bit afterwards - for about a week; but my tummy did not hurt at all.  My staff member had the same experience, only the opposite - her tummy hurt and thigh didn't.  We all had great results though (you can see the photos on our Facebook page, if you're interested - see link, below)!  The point is, some bodies are more sensitive than others and some body parts are more sensitive than others, but from my experience, they all will respond to SculpSure.  It's unfortunate that it hurt you so much, but the silver lining is that you should have a great result - let's hope so!

Pain during SculpSure treatment

Thank you for your question. I am sorry you had such discomfort during the procedure. To be fair, some patients are a bit more sensitive than others, but the SculpSure apparatus has 10 possible energy levels - and it sounds like you should have been lowered a little. 

I encourage my patients to try and tolerate a smidge of discomfort if able - only to potentially see better results. Has this been studied officially? No, but there are anecdotes that if a patient can tolerate a higher setting then they achieve better results. With that being said, I will often adjust the energy setting if a patient is in pain, or at least deliver a cool blast (which both lowers the setting and simultaneously cools the skin) to ensure that the patient is never in frank pain. Some of my patients self pre-medicate with tylenol - just for their own peace of mind. 

As you said though, you're not in any pain after the procedure - and that's the best part of it. It really is very little downtime. In my experience, patients who tolerate a higher temperature setting may have some more tenderness when the area is touched (like a muscle soreness) for a couple of days, or even firm nodules that gradually dissipate after a month or two. Or, you may feel completely fine. Best of luck - you should start to see results in about 6 weeks with maximal effects at 3 months. 

Pain during SculpSure procedure

The energy level is adjustable on the SculpSure device, so I would say it should never be painful for anyone.  The effective level is determined by the sensation that the patient feels during the treatment, so if you were experiencing pain, I would have decreased the energy level.  The fat destruction zone should feel like tingly, cramping or periods of deep warmth, but not pain.  

Michael I. Echavez, MD
San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

SculpSure results

Thanks for your question. SculpSure is not designed to be painful. How pain is felt depends on each person’s threshold and is usually communicated to the person doing the treatment. The levels are designed to increase and decrease so if there is mild discomfort, it’s fleeting. The destruction of fat cells is why SculpSure is successful; changing the levels doesn’t create a dramatic difference. Best, Dr. Katz

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

SculpSure Treatment Temperatures

Hi there,

Pain management is unique to every patients pain tolerance levels. The threshold is often gained by circumstances that help you develop a reference point to compare the levels of discomfort you may experience during a SculpSure treatment.  

The highest temperature settings during SculpSure treatments actually do contribute to the effectiveness of the laser in destroying the fat cells. Higher temperatures produces better results. 

Cory Torgerson, MD, PhD, FRCSC
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 105 reviews


Thank you for your question. I am disappointed to hear about your discomfort during the procedure. SculpSure is intended to be a painless procedure completed in 25 minutes. I suggest that you next consult in person with a board certified facial plastic surgeon for another treatment. Please also review the video on my page from a SculpSure patient!

Best wishes,

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Sculpsure & Pain During Treatment Does It Correlate With Results?

SculpSure offers the ability to adjust the settings during treatment.  We expect some discomfort for patients. However, if the pain level was too high, it should have been communicated to your Dr. If you have any concerns, please consult your Dr.  The energy level doesnt typically make much difference in the results if you finish the full course. Best, Dr. Emer

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 158 reviews

SculpSure is adjustable

One of the benefits of SculpSure is the ability to adjust the settings during the treatment.  Some slight discomfort is tolerated and even encouraged to achieve the best results.  If the pain level is too high, then the settings need to lowered.  Even if you rate the pain at a 8 on a 1-10 pain level, the discomfort is very short lived and certainly better then undergoing a surgical procedure (liposuction).  If you see the desired reduction in fat cells, I am sure you will feel that the treatment discomfort was worth it.

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Pain during procedure

It is necessary to heat the fat, not the skin where the nerve sensation is. Sometimes it is not possible to treat the fat under the skin because of transference of the heat back to the skin from the fat. It sounds like the fat got heated higher than the 115 degrees needed, or the nerves are too sensitive. It is hard to say, but use a lower setting on the next treatment.

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.