CoolSculpting is a process of killing fat cells by using cold temperatures. During the treatment each area in or under the applicator is reduced to the temperature needed to freeze the fat within the fat cells. Those cells that have fat within them frozen will die, within 3 days after the procedure. Your body then processes out the fat and the fat cells and you are thinner than you were! Sounds easy right? It is.
No surgery, no pain from incisions or liposuction cannulas sucking the fat out of you. No downtime? Well, that’s mostly right. You can get back to your life right away. There are no restrictions to what you can do after CoolSculpting treatment. Most people have mild discomfort in the areas treated that lasts for 5 to 7 days. Most people, but not all.
If you are reading this considering getting CoolSculpting the good news is less than 20% of the people treated get any significant pain after CoolSculpting. So your chances are good that you’ll be in the majority and sail through your recovery with some mild swelling, aching or soreness and nothing more.
If you are reading this looking for help because you are having pain after a CoolSculpting treatment, the good news is that it will pass. The bad news is that you have it and until it goes away, being in the minority of people isn’t much fun.
Whether you are considering CoolSculpting and want to know about the pain or you have CoolSculpting pain and are searching for why you have it, what is causing it and when it will go away or what you can do to help it go away faster, keep reading the answers are here.
There is nothing any CoolSculpting provider or the researchers have identified that make one person more apt to get the more severe pain after CoolSculpting than another person. If we knew, we would only treat people that wouldn’t get the pain or at least warn the people that would get it so they are prepared. This is temporary, that much any provider or person that had it will tell you. It will go away, with or without any treatment.
What we do know is the larger applicators including the CoolSmooth and CoolMax tend to have a higher percentage of people that get this level of pain. Those applicators treat more fat, which would explain why we see more pain from using those vs. the others. That should not determine your treatment plan though. Using the medium size applicators also can cause the same level of pain, it just happens less often. If you are the one dealing with this, at least when it’s over you want a great result and only a perfect treatment plan with the correct applicator will give you that.
What does CoolSculpting pain feel like?
It starts typically 3 days after your CoolSculpting procedure. We call it “late onset pain” because it starts 3 days after the procedure when you should be feeling better not worse. You are going along just fine, numb on the skin, sore, maybe even a bit achy feeling, then it gets worse literally overnight. It might start as itching or burning and then progress to a feeling of cramping, tearing, stabbing, shooting pain or buzzing under the skin. If this sounds familiar, hopefully reading this is giving you some comfort to know you are not the only one. There is nothing BAD going on that you will never recover from. This is not a severe complication and we PROMISE it will go away, eventually.
How long will CoolSculpting pain last?
Typically, the course of this pain resolves itself within 14 days. The milder versions tend to last only 3 to 5 days with the more severe version lasting a couple of weeks.
Rare cases are reported to last longer and require medical intervention just to help you get back to a normal life while the process runs its course. There are solutions that can help, so keep reading.
What causes CoolSculpting Pain?
Fat cells die as a result of CoolSculpting treatment. That is why the procedure is so great, those dead fat cells don’t come back so your results last!
So what happens next? Fat itself contains toxins. Those toxins have been stored in the fat within the cells and are now being released into the space between your cells. The fat cells are also breaking apart into pieces of cellular debris that will be eliminated from your body over the next several months. Your lymphatic system is responsible for transporting all this “waste” to your liver and out of your body. It’s just a process that takes time.
Dying fat cells cause inflammation, its part of the process that eliminates the cells and it’s natural. Your body has cells that die every day, otherwise we would be old before we started Kindergarten. The process of cleaning up dead cells is one your body does every day and is very good at. So don’t worry, your body can handle it.
When all those fat cells die at one time and the stored fat begins to break down along with the cells, the resulting “waste” material can be like a toxic dump! That will all be cleared by your body over the next several months. Part of what happens during the CoolSculpting procedure is the nerves in the area that was “frozen” were stunned from the cold temperatures. They aren’t damaged and there is no permanence to the skin numbness you are feeling right after the procedure. Within a couple of weeks the feeling is completely back to normal again.
When those nerves start to “wake back up” again, they are sitting in the middle of that toxic waste and can become irritated. The feelings you feel are not what you should be feeling, burning, itching, stabbing pain is not what is happening to your body, but it’s what it feels. Those nerves are irritated and letting you know it.