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How Coolsculpting works

Coolsculpting is an FDA-cleared procedure that involves cryolipolysis, or “freezing” fat cells that don’t respond to traditional exercise and diet habits. It’s also sometimes used in the treatment of lipomasTrusted Source. Technically, the procedure is noninvasive, meaning that no surgery is involved.

This doesn’t mean that Coolsculpting is completely free of side effects. While it’s not meant to cause long-term pain and discomfort, these are some possibilities. Most discomfort is felt from the “cooling” effects of the actual procedure. As your body adjusts to the fat cell removal, discomfort can come and go. Read on to learn more about these side effects, which you can discuss with a practitioner before starting this procedure.

Does it hurt?

The pain felt from Coolsculpting is primarily experienced during the procedure itself. According to the official Coolsculpting website, the company acknowledges that it’s possible to feel pain from the numbness caused by the cooling sensations from the freezing applicator used during the procedure. You may also feel slight pinching and pulling sensations as the fat cells are frozen and pulled out. Such effects may last between 5 and 10 minutes of the 60-minute treatmentTrusted Source time.

After the procedure, you might experience pain along with itching and swelling. The level of pain felt can also vary between treatment areas, with the abdomen being the most vulnerable.

Does Coolsculpting cause nerve damage?

Coolsculpting doesn’t cause nerve damage. However, numbness is common, according to the Center for Aesthetics. This can last for a few weeks. It can also come and go.

There have been anecdotal reports of severe pain and nerve pain for several days or weeks after the procedure. These reports were not observed in a formal clinical setting.

Common side effects after Coolsculpting include:

aches

bruising

cramps

diarrhea

firmness

fullness of the throat (if neck is being treated)

itchiness

muscle spasms

nausea

numbnessTrusted Source

redness

stinging

swelling

tenderness

tingling

Most of these effects are felt at the site of the treatment area. According to Coolsculpting, these are temporary, and usually recede within a few weeks. Pain and discomfort after the procedure may fluctuate again three days later, where side effects may temporarily return.

Coolsculpting rarely causes serious side effects. However, these are possibilities you should discuss with your doctor ahead of time, so you can recognize the signs and respond quickly.

One possible serious but rare side effect is the formation of paradoxical adipose hyperplasiaTrusted Source following Coolsculpting. This results in an expansion of the recently targeted fat cells. According to a study reported in JAMA DermatologyTrusted Source, there’s only a 0.0051 percent chance of this side effect. It also occurs months after the initial Coolsculpting treatment.

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