Pain during Sculpsure. Is this normal?

I just had the procedure done about a week ago on several different areas: outer thighs, upper and lower abs and love handles. Some areas were incredibly painful and others were just mildly painful. I also tried to have the procedure done on my inner thighs but that was just unbearable! Are there any particular reason for the differences in pain? Will this effect the outcome. Also, the area that hurt the worst is black and blue. Any thoughts on this?

Doctor Answers 14

Different parts of the body may be more sensitive than other parts.

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Different parts of the body may be more sensitive than other parts. The inner thighs in particular are extremely sensitive to pain due to a higher concentration of nerve endings near the surface. In addition, each individual patient has a different pain tolerance. The nice thing about SculpSure is that the settings can be adjusted for each patient, so no one should have to be in unbearable pain during the procedure. Different levels of pain will not affect the overall outcome.

Baltimore Dermatologic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Is pain normal during a Sculpsure treatment?

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

Pain is a subjective issue. In most of the cases the procedure is very well tolerated. However, stria, or scar tissue may be the reason for overheating tissue generating more sensitivity, and requiring lowering the settings.

Wishing you the best in your journey

Pain and SculpSure

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Pain is very subjective. I have had the treatment myself, and know that if the levels go up from 0.9 to 1.4 there is a noticeable difference in pain. 

The trend is that SculpSure is less painful in FDA approved areas, such as the flanks and abdomen, and universally painful on the inner thighs. This goes for most other treatments as well. Nerves are more common in that area (superficial nerves), hence accounting for more sensitivity. 

As for the black and blue- that suggest bruising rather than skin burns. I personally have not seen that happen with Sculpsure. Perhaps applicator on too tightly? Hard to comment without a picture or examination. 

All the best

Dr Davin Lim
Laser and aesthetic dermatologist
Brisbane, Australia. 
FIORI INSTITUTE of Body Contouring

Pain varies with Sculpture

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Pain varies with Sculpsure. Most patients do well and find it tolerable.
One patient found it very painful, however, this same patient did great treating her flanks the same day without any great pain.  Not sure why her abdomen hurt so much more than her flanks both with the same intensity, the same day.
Certain areas such as the inner thighs and arms are more tender.
There is variability within the Sculpsure laser machine to increase or decrease the laser intensity and help you with pain.
Not sure why it is bruised.
Best wishes, 
Dr. Denkler

Pain During SculpSure is it Normal?

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Hi Marjules. Thank you for your question. Pain tolerance varies on the individual. Various areas may be more tender to some patients while others may be perfectly fine. The administrator of the SculpSure procedure has the ability to adjust each applicator to the appropriate setting for each patient, hotter or cooler. For optimal comfort blasts of coolness can be given upon a patient's request. 

The outcome should not be affected, but with our patients we have found bruising to not be typical. In our office we have done over 760 applicators and only one instance was there mild bruising on the abdomen. Good luck with your recovery!

Jeffrey A. Klein, MD
San Juan Capistrano Dermatologic Surgeon


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After 8 months doing SculpSure, I have learned a few things: people vary in sensitivity and the machine has adjustments to vary  its power. You should NOT have incredible pain unless it was at the 0.90 setting, and then cooling time-outs should have been used. However, I like you to be at the point where you would not like it turned up, and I ask continually throughout to make individual changes. The inner thighs always seem to hurt at least on one side, so I start low and work up over 5-8 initial minutes rather than causing pain and then down.  I have never seen bruising though perhaps pt. are not telling me! Slight discomfort or 1.40 max setting w/out will produce the same results independent of setting. Why do some not hurt at 1.4--it just is!

Pain during SculpSure is very unusual

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SculpSure, the world's first laser FDA indicated for non surgical fat reduction of the abdomen and flanks is typically painless during the treatment.  The skin does heat up during the procedure and some patients are unable to tolerate the session.  The laser is adjustable and the settings can be lowered during the session to decrease the amount of discomfort.  The discomfort does vary from different regions on the body and treating any other area of the body other than the abdomen and flanks is considered "off label" by the FDA.

I have found that the discomfort is higher in the arms and in patients with more target tissue (fat).  This is one of the reasons that it is not indicated for people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30.  In areas around bone the discomfort is greater.  This technology was FDA approved in the fall of 2015 and we as providers are still learning the nuances and applications of this laser.  It is my understanding that the company is also updating it's software to allow lower settings to help in situations where the pain during the procedure is too high.  There is a fail safe cooling setting that can be used during the treatment session to cool the area for about 4 minutes, but still continue with the planned session, just over a little longer period of time than the original 25 minutes.

I have not seen any bruising (black and blue) from the laser.  But, the straps used to hold the applicator templates in place can pinch the skin and cause some bruising.  Also, if a patient is on any type of blood thinners or anti-inflammatory medications bruising can occur.

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 83 reviews

Pain & SculpSure

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Every patient process pain differently and every area of the body responds differently as well. Some are simply more sensitive -- such as the inner thighs. The pain will decrease with each subsequent treatment as the fat diminishes. Hope this helps.  


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Thank you for your question. Your technician should work with you to create a safe and comfortable procedure. There can be some tenderness and swelling after your procedure, but it should subside after a few days. Please review the post op care instructions provided by your board certified facial plastic surgeon and team.

Best wishes,

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

SculpSure Pain

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SculpSure is always slightly uncomfortable but everyone's pain tolerance is different. Different areas of the body can be more sensitive than others. We have also found that the way the applicators are set up can also depend on how much pain you feel. The good thing though is that it does not affect the outcome, you will still get the same results. The black and blues may be from the technician not applying the applicators correctly and it could have been pinching the skin.

Dennis Gross, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 11 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.