Does SculpSure Hurt And Other Questions After My First SculpSure Treatment Review

This January, I had a chance to meet with the Hologic team at BlogHer Health. I am a fan of what Hologic does for mammography (they make the new SmartCurve Breast Stabilization System for a more comfortable mammogram), gynecology (they make the ThinPrep Pap Test for pap smears, the MonaLisa Touch® for vaginal rejuvenation and NovaSure for endometrial ablation), and DXA scans. You might not be aware of what Hologic makes, but they’re everywhere. And I was really excited to see some of their newer products.

at the Hologic booth at BlogHer Health 2019

I was really excited to learn more about SculpSure® at BlogHer Health and loved talking to the SculpSure team. Rarely do you get a chance to meet a technology and get a chance to meet the entire team, before a procedure. I entered a giveaway on a whim for a SculpSure package. If you’ve seen my Instagram, you know already that I won a full package from SculpSure! The Hologic team put me in touch with a local clinic that has a SculpSure machine and a few months later, I was ready for my first treatment.

Why SculpSure?

What is SculpSure? It’s a body contouring technology from Hologic. You might have heard about CoolSculpting® – and while it’s similar in the fact that it’s a non-invasive fat sculpting treatment, SculpSure is very different. CoolSculpting uses suction and freezing to destroy the fat cells, while SculpSure does not use suction and uses heat to destroy the cells.

You can treat many areas with SculpSure – from the abdomen, flanks (aka love handles), backs (aka back fat), thighs, and even under the chin (aka turkey neck). SculpSure treatments often include more than one 25 minute treatment, 6 weeks apart, for best results.

BlogHer Health 2019 at the Hologic Booth with SculpSure

How does SculpSure work? SculpSure works by targeting fat cells with intense heat. With this heat, it destroys the fat cells which are then carried out through your body through waste products through the lymphatic system within a few months (6-12 weeks). Each treatment can destroy up to 24% of treated fat cells.

Does SculpSure Hurt?

Does SculpSure hurt? It sure does. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was not expecting this much burning pain during the treatment. Truth bomb, nothing this effective comes easy.

Here’s what the SculpSure site claims about the treatment,

When the treatment starts, initially you will feel a cooling sensation. This helps keep the skin comfortable during treatment. The cooling will be on the entire treatment, while the laser cycles on and off, raising the temperature of the fat cells. Most patients feel a deep warmth and/or tingling sensation intermittently throughout the treatment which is generally well-tolerated3,4.

I had watched a few videos where the model said that it was warm, but because it alternated between cool and hot, it was tolerable. It was not tolerable. You guys, it was like fire.

You know that feeling when you touch something hot and your body has a natural instinct to pull away? I had that feeling, but I couldn’t pull away because the SculpSure wands was strapped onto me. They alternate between cool and a warmth that is tolerable, and at the very end, there are seconds of pain-staking heat that you want to scream, but when it reaches peak heat, it automatically cools down, and the process starts over again.

I was doing fine for about 5 minutes and then my body went into full panic mode and I started sweating profusely. The guy running the machine jokingly suggested I should take Xanax next time I come in. No kidding.

About 10 minutes into the treatment, I asked if they could turn it down. If they couldn’t turn it down, I debated for a few seconds if I could just have them turn it off and I could just go home. Thankfully, they said that they could turn it down. I really wish they would have explained that to me first. In fact, I wish they would have told me straight out that I could expect some pain, and that I wasn’t just a total lightweight.

FAQ’s about the SculpSure treatment

Do I need to prepare for my first SculpSure treatment? Not really. Just don’t wear any lotion on the area that is going to be treated. Honestly, next time I’m going to prepare by bringing an ice pack for my neck to cool me down during the treatment. Also, maybe a fan. If you have a phone with game apps, try to play games during the treatment to distract yourself.

What can I expect after my SculpSure treatment? Once the treatment was over, I was told to expect swelling and bruising. I did not bruise much, but I did swell – about a size. I could not button my jeans as normal, and focused on wearing stretchy pants. While they claim that there is no down time, I could not do abdominal exercises for a few days. It was far too tender to want to do planks, curls, and teasers. I describe the pain on my lower abdomen as “that feeling after you get hit in the stomach by a 2×4.” I never thought that I could describe something that way, but it sure felt like that. It was tender to the touch for at least a week – a mild side effect they do warn about in their literature.

You have to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to flush the destroyed fat cells out of your system. Granted, this is just smart for anyone to do.

You’re also expected to massage the area twice a day for 10-15 minutes. I will tell you that I was a little grossed out the first time I went to massage myself. It felt like there were little lumps of fat under the skin – and that’s kind of what they are. This “tissue firmness” is a mild side effect from the treatment.

Does SculpSure Work?

Does SculpSure work? I’m still waiting for results because I only did the treatment two weeks ago. SculpSure is not a quick fix – nothing is. You have to wait for at least 6 weeks after treatment to see any changes, and most come at about 12 weeks. All I know is that if I get results that are showcased on their website, I’d be pretty excited.

Any fat cell that is treated will not regenerate. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t gain weight in that area. That’s why SculpSure will always recommend you pair a SculpSure treatment with a healthy diet and lifestyle for the best results.

SculpSure Costs

How much does SculpSure cost? My package was worth about $3,000 and that included two treatments on one site. I chose my lower abdomen. Regardless, it’s quicker and safer (safe because you’re not taking the risks of going under anesthesia) than a tummy tuck (listed at around $6k) – although I’m sure the results are not as effective as a surgical procedure.

Want to win a SculpSure treatment? As of June 2019, they are running a giveaway where you can win your own SculpSure treatments and meet their new spokesperson, Brook Shields. ENTER HERE:

Thank you to BlogHer for connecting me with the Hologic and CynoSure teams, and picking me as a random winner of multiple SculpSure treatments. I can’t wait to see the results, so stay tuned for a follow-up blog post about 12 weeks from now with results!

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Comments: 20

  1. TessaM February 16, 2021 at 5:20 pm Reply

    Omg. So I just had this today and I thought the procedure itself bordered on intolerable, if not crossed the threshold at times. I’m 4.5 hours post-treatment and my stomach is sore. Very sore. So far I have two lumps under my skin that are visible to the eye and hard to the touch. This is by far the sorest of the two areas I had treated (I had my upper and lower stomach done). I was not prepared for it to hurt as badly as it did, nor was I prepared for now sore I am right now.

    • Keith July 11, 2021 at 1:42 pm Reply

      @TessaM Can you please provide an update on the hard lumps? Did they ever go away and if so, how long did it take?

  2. Tini April 8, 2021 at 5:33 pm Reply

    OMG! I had this today. Lower and upper abdomen. I thought I was a pretty good pain taker after 25 hours in labor, knee surgery and two shoulder surgeries. This was the worst pain. I thought I was being branded but it didn’t stop. And that waive of coolness was about 2 degrees cooler. After she did my lower abdomen I almost told her to stop, I wasn’t going to do the upper. When I got in my car I had to wait 20 minutes before I could drive. I am hoping the pain lessens a bit as time goes on. I have a funeral in 2 days 😳 and that would be bad to be in this much pain. I wish I had known they could make it lower. Here’s hoping to heal quickly.

  3. Tini April 9, 2021 at 4:50 am Reply

    Well, today is day 2. I am pleasantly surprised. I hardly feel anything. I hope this works. Only time will tell

  4. Susan J Habenicht April 15, 2021 at 5:50 pm Reply

    I could not do it again! I did it twice because the 2nd session was included and encouraged. It was torture & I have a high tolerance for pain! I have had fillings without Novocaine & 3 children without drugs!
    After 3 months, my love handles are gone, but I have also been exercising, so it’s definitely a combination. You can’t continue to eat poorly & think you won’t gain weight.
    Do not believe the fake videos. You feel like you are on fire & it’s for too long!!!

  5. Winona May 27, 2021 at 10:48 am Reply

    With my experience of 25 minutes of on and off torture with sculpsure, I wonder how much agony you have to go through with coolsculpting… everyone says sculpsure is less painful. I did my inner and outer thighs, a total of 8 pad… for the first 5 mins it was ok as it was calibrating after that… it was the longest 20 mins of my life with pure agony… I was sweating profusely and wanted to rip it off and cancel it but then it will cool down for few seconds and this cycle kept going.. I have stretchmarks on my inner and outer thighs so I guess it affects as well and I was told that it’s the most sensitive part… hoping to do my abdomen but if there’s nothing to make the agony less… I don’t think I can do it again.

  6. Santa Maria June 16, 2021 at 8:40 pm Reply

    Is it normal to feel like you’re gaining weight in the area or bloated? I’m 4 weeks in and I feel extremely bloated and feel like I’m gaining weight. Help!

  7. Kri August 11, 2021 at 1:55 pm Reply

    Agree they deceive you with “most people find the discomfort tolerable”. It’s ridiculously painful

  8. Mary Beth Keidl October 5, 2021 at 6:52 am Reply

    I had the first treatment to take away my double chin. I have an extremely high pain threshold. To say this was extremely painful is putting it mildly. I was in agony and almost had to tell the technician to stop. The second time I had ear buds in and was listening to music and I was propped up on an exam table – not like the first time when I sat on a chair at the end and had to hold my head up with all this stuff hanging on it. Second time I also had taken tylenol before and possibly that helped.

  9. Lynn October 28, 2021 at 11:41 am Reply

    The feeling that was described as putting a hot pan on your skin and not feeling like you can pull away is extremely accurate. I did my first session a month or so ago on my upper thighs just below my buttocks and it was insanely painful. My eyes watered, I basically cried, and it felt like torture. Did a second session on my outer thighs a few days later and took 1g of acetaminophen beforehand. It was more tolerable and i thought it was because of the acetaminophen. I did my second session on my upper thighs today and took acetaminophen beforehand, and it was awful. Like true torture. I was practically hyperventilating from the pain and at 7 minutes left I asked to turn it off and we just cut the intensity in half instead. I think the position of where on your body the procedure is done likely makes a big difference. It burns, feel like a sunburn almost, the rest of the day, and you have to keep massaging the area, the recovery is 1000 times better than the procedure itself.

  10. Diana January 4, 2022 at 8:51 pm Reply

    OH MY GOSH!! NEVER FELT ANYTHING SOOO PAINFUL !! Had my first 2 treatments today. My lower abdomen, and lower back. (love handle area). She did the back first. I could not imagine anything hurting worse…then I did my tummy. About half way through, I was getting dizzy from the pain. ( I was using my Lamaze training. And probably breathing too deep and too fast) She turned it down a notch, and I made it through the rest of the treatment. My arms, upper abdomen, and thighs are scheduled for later this week. I’m not sure what to do. I really want this to work, but she honestly told me, the arms and thighs will be worse. ughhh. So, its been several hours since my treatment. I do feel bruised and uncomfortable. I have not noticed any lumps or inconsistencies in my skin…yet.

  11. April January 29, 2022 at 5:25 pm Reply

    I consulted with 2 different places. The first one said it would hurt and that they offer nitrous oxide. The 2nd place said that it wouldn’t hurt. He is a Dr of anesthesia and said that the double chin has more pain receptors than the abdomen, which is my target area. The 2nd place pricing was half so of course I went with them. I asked about nitrous oxide and they didn’t offer that and that I wouldn’t need it.
    The Dr stayed with me and Well as soon as we got past the calibration of 5 minutes it started hurting. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having anxiety, but it was from the pain. The machine quit about 8 minutes in and took another 5 to restart. So we go again and after another 6-8 minutes the machine quits again. Bad plug or something.
    We went to another room and this time the nurse practitioner stayed with me.
    It was extremely painful! I could feel burning and started again with the deep breathing like I couldn’t get enough air. I was on the lowest setting and she asked me repeatedly if I wanted to turn it down. I was almost ready to quit. I was crying because of the pain. I told her that maybe if I cried it would make it easier so as to not hold the tears back would cause more stress. I was ready to quit and then she turned it down .5(whatever that means). It was way more tolerable and after a few minutes I even asked if she could turn it down another .5. She did. She seemed to think that since I didn’t have a real thick layer of fat, it was causing more pain. Who knows. I don’t think they even know.
    I took Tylenol and .25 Xanax. It wasn’t enough!
    From what I understand, the lasers target only fat cells and heat them up. But, if the fat gets heated up to x degree, whatever those fat cells are touching are most certainly getting warmed up by contact, for sure. I could feel muscle spasms in my left lower abdomen, but it wasn’t painful, just twitchy each time the heat peaked. I believe the pain is directly related to pain sensors within the fat targeted area. They are heated to x degrees and IT BURNS!!!
    I think nitrous is a good idea with a big BUT! The but is, if your on gas you really won’t be aware of what this actually may be doing to your body. Beyond the fat, that is.
    The first place I went to said that the laser only penetrates the first 1 cm of fat. If that’s the case they why is my abdominal muscle wall spasming?
    Just not sure. I DO believe I will be happy with the results but this is painful as hell and exhausting when it’s over. My day was spent after treatment.

  12. Mandy February 16, 2022 at 8:02 pm Reply

    Honestly for me I felt like I sat on Hot leather seat in the car, uncomfortable yes. I had it done on my stomach and flanks. So it is hot yes, I distracting myself by talking to the nice lady applying it. Intolerable, no. I hope it will yield results. But it really wasn’t that bad. Sore feeling now, but no worse than doing a really hard workout or stretching or bending in a weird way that you normally don’t do. Or like a really really really bad period.

  13. Laura April 26, 2022 at 4:41 pm Reply

    I was scheduled to do my lower abs and flanks today. I went in hopeful that the pain would be just moderate, if I focused and did some meditation while I was having it done. I coudln’t even focus. The pain was so intense that I asked her if anyone has passed out or thrown up during the procedure. She said no and turned it down some, but I just continued to get more and more light-headed throughout the procedure, my limbs were tingilng. I honestly wanted to stop and leave, but she said if we stop the treatment basically woudln’t work. I didn’t want to waste the money so I tried so hard to tolerate and not cry or pass out. She brought me water and some pretzels because my hands were shaking. After it was finished I told her I couldn’t do the flanks, I couldn’t imagine getting through another 30 minutes of that. I had to lay in the chair for about 30 minutes after the procedure just to get my body to stop shaking. I really thought I had a high pain tolerance but this was awful. It’s been 4 hours and I’m still in pain. I’ve had an ice pack on my abs since getting home. I hope it starts letting up, but if this lasts another week I am just going to eat the money or hope they will give me a partial refund because to me it’s not worth the pain. I’ll just keep working in the gym.

  14. Jg patel April 28, 2022 at 6:17 pm Reply

    The nitrous oxide does NOTHING! I had my arms done. Honestly thought about quitting. I too have a high tolerance for pain, but this was something else.

  15. Teryn Allred June 6, 2022 at 6:38 pm Reply

    The pain is excruciating!!!!! I felt like I was not prepared or warned. One clinic actually told me it felt like a hot stone massage!! More like a hot iron placed on your stomach for 25 minutes!! Not worth it and I will never do it again. You might kill some fat cells but you’ll end up with stress wrinkles and grey hair😂

  16. Wendy June 22, 2022 at 4:08 pm Reply

    I delivered two babies naturally without even Tylenol. That was nothing compared to Sculptsure pain. Hyperventilating, shaking, didn’t think I could finish it. The absolute most worst pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life and I better have dang good results from it. My left arm/elbow hurt so bad during and afterwards and I didn’t even have it done on my arms. Horrible.

  17. Gloria June 30, 2022 at 3:15 am Reply

    I had the procedure done 6 days ago. The areas that I targeted was the lower and upper abs, it was extremely painful more that getting my intimate area waxed. The sensation was like burning and got very bad spams on my ab muscles, if felt like terrible cramps. After the treatment my belly got inflated similar to being 5 months pregnant and I was not able to wear anything that press my belly. they said there is not down time but that is subjective of course I could walk but it was uncomfortable and if standing up for long it was painful, I was able to sit without problems.
    I was supposed to do the sides but I think only one time was enough for me, I will exercise more.

  18. Ileana October 28, 2022 at 8:17 pm Reply

    I have been looking for the follow up blog you mentioned after the 12 weeks but I can’t find it. What were the results and how did you feel?

    • Erica Dermer December 4, 2022 at 12:52 pm Reply

      Sadly, there were very little changes throughout my course or 12 weeks afterwards.

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