I was told more pain means better results with coolsculpting. Is this true? How long does the pain last?

I had coolsculpting done on Father's Day. Two nights ago I started having pain. It's a stabbing pain, swelling and numbness still persis. When I consulted the med spa that did it for me they said the pain usually indicates better results. Is this true? Are all my symptoms normal? When will it all Go back to normal?

Doctor Answers 13

More pain does not equal more gain

More pain with Coolsculpting is not indicative of better results or any problems.  It's impossible to know who will have pain and who won't.  This can even vary from site to site on the same person or different treatment sessions.  (just because you had pain once doesn't mean you'll have it again)  When patients do experience discomfort a few days after treatment it generally only lasts about 3-4 days.  Swelling should resolve after one week.  Numbness may take a bit longer.  The majority of patients have no pain whatsoever and have great results.  Hang in there and know the pain will pass soon.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 145 reviews

Post CoolSculpting pain

I do not believe their is a correlation between pain and result after a CoolSculpting treatment. That being said, it is normal to have neuropathic pain after CoolSculpting. This patient usually starts a few days after the procedure and can last up to a few weeks. If the patient is interfering with your daily activities, I would speak with your physician about a medication such as gabapentin which can help with nerve related pain. 

Shaun Patel, MD
Miami Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 55 reviews



Coolsculpting is an excellent form of non-invasive  fat reduction for the right patient. Some applicators take 1 or 2 hours but the new advantage applicators take only 35 minutes and have significantly less risk for delayed onset pain (especially in the abdomen). Results are seen at 2 months and typically 1-3 treatments will be necessary on each area to achieve ideal results. The number of treatments depends on the amount of fat there and the patient's goals.  There is not downtime and the results can be impressive in the right patient.  We also use the Zimmer Z-wave for improved patient comfort and added results. The best candidates are those who are in pretty good shape with areas of stubborn fat that won't go away no matter what.

Experiencing pain or not does not mean that the treatment will be more effective.

My best,

Sheila Nazarian, MD, MMM

Beverly Hills, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

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

I was told more pain means better results with coolsculpting. Is this true? How long does the pain last?

Thank you for your question. Pain does not indicate better results as some patients feel little to no pain at all. If you are uncomfortable, I would speak to your provider about tips that can help you with your recovery. Regards,

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 457 reviews

Cool sculpting treatment recovery

Pain does not indicate better results, but it also does not mean there is a problem.  Your symptoms are all very normal.  Almost everyone experiences some degree of discomfort for usually about a week but can be up to 2-3 weeks.  For many people, this discomfort is just that; annoying soreness that doesn't really get in the way of life. However there are some cases in which the nerve endings can become slightly inflamed and that can cause shooting, stabbing pain.  Although it is nothing to worry about, it doesn't mean you have to suffer alone.  Your provider can prescribe medication such as Gabapentin (Lyrica) to help calm the inflamed nerves.  Other suggestions would be to use a cold compress when you can, wear a compression garment (not too tight), take an Epsom salt bath and try to stay active, you may find it's worse when you are sitting or lying down.  The swelling you mentioned is also normal, in fact should be expected. It usually lasts 1-2 weeks, but it can last as long as 3 weeks in some.  The suggestions I just mentioned for pain can also help to lessen the swelling. Numbness is also expected, and will likely be the symptom that lasts the longest, often lasting a month or more.

Joseph A. Eviatar, MD, FACS
New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Pain and CoolSculpting

I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing discomfort after your CoolSculpting procedure. We perform hundreds of these treatments per year and it is impossible to predict who will have discomfort and who will not.  Most people do not experience any discomfort, but late-onset feelings of pain can be treated with a medication that your provider can easily prescribe.  My best advice is for you to contact him or her to report your symptoms.

Barry M. Weintraub, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Pain after coolsculpting

Thanks for your question.  I do not believe there any any scientific documentation that increased pain after Coolsculpting results in better results.  I have heard this from patients too, but I can not say that they have any better results than patients who don't experience any discomfort.  The symptoms you are describing are all within the normal range of side effects from the treatment.  Of course, if you are unsure of anything you are experiencing then you should return to the doctor at the office where your procedure was performed.  I find most all of these symptoms to be resolved by 2-3 weeks.  Best of luck!

Josh Waltzman, MD, MBA
Long Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

CoolSculpting Pain

These  symptoms are expected after CoolSculpting. The pain duration varies between patient to patient. It may take several days to weeks. Patients who experience this late onset pain tend to see their results earlier. Meaning instead of 2 months to notice results you may notice it within 1 month. If you want to do future CoolSculpting treatments you can talk to your physician about calling in a prescription for you.

Robert G. Aycock, MD, FACS
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

CoolSculpting and Late-onset Pain

There is no evidence that the amount of pain indicates better results.  We have patients with little to no pain who have great results.  Also, different areas on the body are more sensitive to the treatment than others.  
It is, however, normal to experience late-onset nerve pain.  If it is affecting your daily activities, consult with your doctor and see what he/she prescribes.  It is common for you to have swelling and numbness for a few weeks after the treatment.  If the swelling or numbness gets worse or persists after 2-3 weeks, consult with your doctor.  

Jeffrey Hartog, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Does more pain after CoolSculpting mean better results?

In my opinion, having pain after a CoolSculpting treatment is not an indication of better results.  Some people have pain and others do not.  It also tends to occur primarily after treatment to the abdomen and not other areas.  There is a prescription medicine that can help to alleviate the pain you are having so I would recommend contacting the physician who treated you to discuss this treatment option.  

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