What Types of Sensations Are Associated with Cool Sculpting?

Will there be some discomfort? Will it be mild like the pain from working out or a numbing like very cold water or even warm at times? Will there be tingling or any unusual feeling in the coming days after the coolsculpting session?

Doctor Answers 14

Coolsculpting- squeezes and freezes and pleases!!!

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Like any other procedure different patients have different experiences. I can tell you the experiences of our staff and all of out patients since April of 2011 have definitely been positive. So does it hurt? Well for sure it does not hurt like injecting the acidic based local anesthetics for regular liposuction (assuming you would even be bold enough to do liposuction without general anesthesia!).  But it does have an INTENSE pulling- tugging sensation when the vacuum of the machine is turned on. Like a large soft attachment  to the end of your home vacuum-cleaner, the skin, fat, vessels, and nerves are strongly sucked up into the "applicator". The applicators do come in 3 different sizes (so far) so that it can bring in and stabilize as much of  your muffin top, love handle, pooch, banana roll, or any other area that can be pinched enough to distract from the underlying muscle and bony tissues. (The exceptions are anywhere this either is not enough to pinch, the applicators won't fit, or there is underlying structures that could be compressed- think carotids in the neck) Thus for the machine to work best it is almost always going to be used around the trunk and maybe rarely on isolated loose areas of the legs. And of course your doctor will help determine areas that it won't work, where you would benefit more (either physically or financially) from liposuction or excision (tummy tuck, thigh lift), or where it would be dangerous. This is also where you benefit from evaluation by a physician specifically trained in all of these options, say like a Board Certified plastic surgeon. My bias of course!! ;)

OK, so now you know how pulls and now where it pulls, so think of how sensitive those areas are on you. Does that make it bad? Well no!! The pain really has not been bad at all in anybody's experience thus far. This is because within seconds of the INTENSE pull the applicator has two freezing plates. One on each side. The tissue between the plates is protected by a gel sheet to protect the skin. The instant freeze combined with the vacuum lead to fairly rapid numbing of the area. The pull never completely disappears, but even the most squeamish and skiddish usually are like "well that's not too bad", or "it's not as bad as I would have thought". I think the more pull you get up into the applicator the better the result, but possibly this might be more uncomfortable. Thus I really think the worst I've heard was that it was uncomfortable. Most of the time this went away -a few times it didn't, but no one wanted to stop the treatment or even turn the suction down, which is of course what the options are if it wouldn't be tolerable. We have done all the areas we could think of. Some areas are more sensitive. Some people are more sensitive. All have been easily tolerated. Though I wouldn't even worry if you need to call the nurse or doc back to have them adjust the suction. It's nice knowing that if it does hurt (no matter what you read or what I say!) there are things that can be done and it won't last long if you know what's coming.

So an hour goes by (per area), at which the time is passed by reading a book, watching a movie, playing games or texting on the phone, and you nearly forget the machine is hooked up. Finally the beeper goes off and the suction is turned off. The skin below is reddish, cold, firm, and slimy from the protective goo. The tissues are massaged but really numb at this point. You get dressed you go to work, you go work out, you go home an make dinner for the family, whatever you want!! Try that with liposuction! This cannot be discounted. Many of us surgeons have actually seen liposuction patient's gain wait or lose a good part of their benefit by the sedentary period from surgery to recovery. I hate that! 

For several days there is mild swelling. Mild discomfort for most. Nobody in my practice yet has ever needed narcotics or the pain patches described. Sometime near the end of the first week to end of the second, the skin nerves that were involved recover. This is most likely a "itch that can't be scratched", sometimes an achy pain, other times just plain numb. All have resolved within the first month, but as you read these reviews take seriously the outlier, unusual case, and ask what the next step would be should something less expected  happen to you. In addition within about the mid portion of the second week a result becomes noticeable even if the final benefit isn't fully appreciated until the 7-8th week after. No particular diet necessary. No particular change in activity. This is not a "green light" for gluttony nor a weight loss procedure. It is spot treating fat in particularly exercise resistant areas with real results. The frozen fat is broken down, absorbed, and excreted. No scarring, no incisions.

Finally, as the surgeon, I get to see the experience of noninvasive to the invasive. There is no comparison in comfort from Coolsculpting to liposuction (no matter what source of liposuction or gimmick in marketing used). With liposuction it IS invasive. There IS downtime. Sometimes liposuction is definitely worth it, no doubt. Sometimes excisional surgery is best should there be loose skin. But for ease and comparative comfort with the procedure, return to fitness and function, for getting that boost in confidence, and benefit in fitting in you wardrobe, there is a sure role for Coolsculpting to give you a very real and noticeable result.

Mountain Home Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

What to Expect Following Your Coolsculpting Treatment

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Thank you for your question. Temporary numbness is common after the Coolsculpting.  It is not uncommon to have delayed onset of pain around 5 days after Coolsculpting.  The discomfort is due to inflammation of the tissue. Not everyone has pain or numbness.  The intermittent discomfort tends to subside within a week. It generally takes about 1 to 2  weeks for the swelling  subside. The numbness generally takes 3-4 weeks to resolve.  Numbness following treatment with the larger larger abdominal Cool Max applicator can take 2 months to completely resolve.  I do recommend compression for at least 3 weeks or until he numbness has resolved.  We utilize the new Cool Advantage applicators which are much more comfortable and reduce treatment time to 35 minutes.  We currently have 4 Coolsculpting machines and can offer "Dual Sculpting" which further reduces the treatment time. I hope that this helps.  Best wishes.

Andrew T. Lyos, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

What to expect after Coolsculpting

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It is not uncommon to have delayed onset pain after a Coolsculpting procedure, especially on the abdomen. This pain is more commonly experienced with abdominal Coolsculpting. It starts 3-5 days after the procedure and can last 10 days or so. This pain is nerve based and is best treated with Neurontin. Lidoderm patches help as well and can be placed directly on the area of pain. Ask your physician to prescribe you some.
Best of luck,
Sheila Nazarian

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

Type Of Feelings During And After CoolSculpting

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Dear Anon,


The patients feels suction at first then within about 5 minutes the area treated will become numb and that is about it during the treatment.

After the treatment, the patient may feel tingling, cramping on a sensitive to touch skin.

Nonetheless, every patient is different and some patient barely experience an unusual thing after the treatment is concluded.

With that perspective, this is why the cool sculpting is virtually with no down time and side effects.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Dr. Sajjadian

Ali Sajjadian, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 205 reviews

What To Expect WIth CoolScultping

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The initial few minutes of the process can be uncomfortable, but people do not require relaxation or pain medication. Within about 5 minutes you’ll lose sensation in the area and will easily be able to talk on the phone, read, use your computer, or watch TV. Some patients nap. Afterwards, a few patients may experience short temporary redness, bruising, or mild discomfort in the treated areas that resolves quickly.

Sensations with CoolSculpting

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Thank you for your questions.

In my experience (when I had this treatment performed), the first 3-5 minutes was the most uncomfortable -- that was when the cool gel was placed on my body and the suction started.  The pulling sensation lasts only a few minutes and then the rest of the hour, you really don't feel much.  

Some patients experience numbness, tingling, aching in the area treated but that usually goes away after a few weeks.

Overall, a very easy procedure.

Sensations associated with CoolSculpting

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The sensations during CoolSculpting can include: numbness, tingling, burning and pulling. It can be uncomfortable and you can feel cramps for the first 8-10 minutes. After that the area is frozen and the sensation is gone. It's amazing how quickly the body adapts to the machine being attached to it. After the treatment, the area can have bruising for a few days and some numbness for up to 3 weeks. Everything should resolve by that 3 week to 1 month time.

                                                            All the best "Dr. Joe" Gryskiewicz

CoolSculpting is tolerated well by most patients

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It feels weird and it's common to feel anxious as the suction draws in the skin/fat compartment to the machine. That strong suction does hurt, a little in some patients and a lot in others, but then it gets better in 5 - 10 minutes as it freezes. Very rarely, especially with the abdomen, there can be a nauseating sensation. If the device is too uncomfortable, the applicator can be repositioned in the first few minutes, and this does help make it more comfortable sometimes.  It is well tolerated. On this website, 89% of patients give it a good rating of satisfaction, which is higher than most other cosmetic treatments.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Sensations associated with Coolsculpting procedures are very predictable.

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The actual Coolsculpting procedure has many sensations associated with it. First the skin layers that are pulled into the applicator feels uncomfortable until the layers get cooled. This takes 6-10 minutes. When the applicator is released the skin is numb for typically 3-6 weeks. Some people feeling mild to moderate tingling as the nerves come back to "life".

Laurie A. Casas, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 110 reviews

Sensations with Coolsculpting

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During the procedure it is a pretty intense suction feeling but most people tolerate it very well.

After the procedure, usually by day four or five, you may have numbness or a crampy, "pins and needles" sensation that some describe as very uncomfortable but most tolerate it very well.

Steven Hacker, MD
West Palm Beach Dermatologic Surgeon

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.