I Tried SculpSure for a Flatter Stomach and This Is What Happened

Being a mother has its privileges. But in life, for everything that’s good, there’s always the bad, and having a baby changed my stomach forever. It’s been eight years since I was pregnant, and while the baby weight has been off for years, I find myself still fighting to abolish this undesirable little pooch on the lower part of my stomach. There’s nothing short of surgery (honestly, I probably would do that, too) that I won’t put to the test—workouts, diets, strange compression garments and even noninvasive fat fighters. If I think it will help make a difference and get me a flat tummy, I’ll try it.

About three months ago I decided to test out the latest noninvasive fat fighter, SculpSure, at Miami plastic surgeon Sean Simon, MD's, office. Not quite sure what I was getting myself into, Dr. Simon explained to me that the biggest point of difference between SculpSure and other devices on the market is the way they go at the fat. “SculpSure utilizes a diode laser technology to obliterate fat under the skin. The laser energy is transmitted through the skin and then absorbed by the fatty tissue, which is the main target,” he says. “In doing so, the energy is absorbed by the fatty layer creating heat, which in turn destroys the fat cells. The analogy I use with patients is that SculpSure is like a sniper with the specific target of fat, whereas other devices are more like a grenade, destroying everything in its path.” The areas of attack for this mission: my middle to lower stomach and my flanks.

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Never having SculpSure before (full disclosure: I have had other types of body treatments done before and they all feel differently) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in terms of pain over the next 25 minutes (that’s how long each treatment area lasts). I hopped up on the table and got hooked up to the machine, which involved a belt of sorts that went around my waist and two applicators that hooked into them. Once everything was in place and tightened up so that it wouldn’t move during the treatment, we got started. The first few seconds felt like nothing and I thought to myself that it would be a breeze. But, I was wrong. As the device started to heat up, I started to notice discomfort, and fast. The best way I can describe it is like a really bad menstrual cramp that’s also hot at the same time. But, the cramping was isolated just to the area where the applicators were. My only saving grace to get me through the treatment was that each time the cramping got to the point of being barely tolerable for another second, the chill cycle (Dr. Simon says the machine has a cooling system in place to maintain safe and comfortable skin surface temperatures) would kick in and I could feel my anxiety levels drop. This went on over and over until the session was done.

Next came the flanks. I got unstrapped from the machine and was moved over to a massage chair, you know the ones at the nail salon where you stick your head through a hole and your knees go up on the pads. Again, I got hooked up to the machine, but this time the applicators (a smaller size) were placed on the fatty parts of my flanks. It was the same thing as before: heat up for a few seconds and then cool down. Only, the flanks hurt substantially more than the stomach did—or at least for me. When I asked Dr. Simon why, he said, “Everyone is different and it really depends on how much fat and nerves are in the area and where the pad is positioned.”

When the hour was up, I left the office feeling fine. I was a little red and tender to the touch but I was able to go about my day status quo. I even went to the gym the next morning.

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The next day, I definitely felt tender in the treated areas and a little bloated and swollen in my stomach, which was to be expected. “You can sometimes get some areas that are a little firm after the treatment, which is totally fine. I have my patients massage those spots for a few days to up to one week to aid the lymphatics,” says Dr. Simon. The swelling and firmness persisted for about two weeks, but it wasn’t anything uncomfortable—I just had to pay a little more attention to which pair of jeans I was wearing and steer clear of anything super tight.

About 12 weeks after the initial treatment I was back at Dr. Simon’s office for my first follow-up appointment. I was definitely starting to see a difference in my stomach, but it wasn’t until he pulled up the before-and-after pictures that I knew it was working (mind you, this was all before I really kicked my diet and workouts into high gear). I was so impressed with the results, that when he suggested going for round two I said yes! Even though I knew that I would have to go through 50 minutes of what felt like, to me, cramping, burning and pinching, in the end I knew it was all worth it.

I completed the second session and still have another six weeks or so to go until I’m at the 12-week mark, and already I can see even more improvement. There’s little fat on my flanks, my pants fit looser in my stomach and I see the fat starting to whittle away. I’m so excited to see the final end result, and if it’s anything like what I saw on the first go around, I know I’ll be thrilled!

30 Comments
  • Anonymous
    Posted on

    it doesnt hurt at all, just a feeling of warm which is bearable and not even uncomfortable. It really works!!!

  • lulu
    Posted on

    can I have demerol and a valume please , this sounds painful

  • Dorrie
    Posted on

    Why is it that no one post picture of the result...

  • Taylor.M
    Posted on

    But where are the before and after photos?

  • John
    Posted on

    Just had it done today on lower abs. It was painful but just when you want to say " stop!" it goes cool. I had to take deep breaths and just focused on that . When it gets too much and you ask for a break they adjust the setting and the relief is INSTANT. I am a huge wimp when it comes to pain so this is definitely bearable.. you just need to embrace the moment and focus on deep breaths.

  • Mela
    Posted on

    Had sculpsure about 2 weeks ago on lower abs and wish I had done more research first. Very uncomfortable. Burning feeling and heavy cramping during procedure. Still tender to the touch after 2 weeks. I have been massaging as directed, but it feels like I have 4 hard "knots" under the skin at each applicator location. Hope this dissipates soon.

  • Daniela Hofmann
    Posted on

    Elise, thank you for such a realistic experience article. We have had SculpSure in our med spa since last November and your story is the most common. We have had 2 clients not able to finish their treatments due to extreme pain. However, one of them had sciatica pain simultaneously and tried again a week later and was able to finish. I have a low pain threshold myself and I was able to do my treatments (saddlebag area) without having to stop. Everyone sees some sort of result - it varies to what degree. Love that the side effects are no where near those of the Coolsculpting device. If you're ever in the Vaughan Ontario area - please pop in for a visit! (Freedom Medi-Spa)

  • Donna
    Posted on

    I had it done yesterday and it burned I even got a few blisters because they had it on where my tattoo was that's the only side that really hurt and left blisters and I had a lot of cramping but other then that it was fine but I'm telling you if you have a tattoo or anything make sure you do not put an applicator on it or over it or nothing

  • rosie
    Posted on

    Had it done last Friday. Took measurements before and have already lost an inch (3 in total) on 3 different areas of my abdomen. Did hurt and had to have machine turned done to lowest setting. Not looking forward to another session. Hoping that with having positive results so quickly that by the end of 8 weeks I won´t need it!

  • Dr Denise Sweeney
    Posted on

    There is no nerve damage with SculpSure. The wavelength of the laser targets the adipose (fat) cells. Also, because the damaged cells are removed slowly by the lymphatic system, the body does not experience "shock" and does not store fat viscerally, as happens with liposuction. I have personally performed over 500 pac treatments and have not seen any nerve damage. This is not true of CoolSculpting. One additional benefit seems to be a modest amount of skin tightening from the laser! Denise Sweeney, MD Life Studios Medical Group Roseville, CA

  • ellen
    Posted on

    thinking about this and thought it was not panfuls the crow flies -WOW seems a lot different reading all of this

  • Nancy Y.
    Posted on

    Anyone that is considering this treatment, do some research. Removing the entire fat cell is not a good thing. Removing the fat from the cells is fine, but this treatment destroys the fat cell wall. A body has a certain number of fat cells at birth. If you remove the fat cells, fat will will migrate to the remaining cells, which can create a distorted appearance. The same situation has been documented with liposuction. There are other less invasive treatments that will give healthier results.

  • Lisa H.
    Posted on

    I just had Sculpsure done today and boy I was surprised. I thought there would be mild discomfort. Instead I was breathing through 15-20 seconds as if I was in labor before the coolness came in. HOLY MOLY. I was able to survive the very highest setting somehow. I could not carry on a conversation. Anyway I survived and here I am at home, abdomen still sore and hoping this thing worked!

  • Kay
    Posted on

    I had sculptsure done on my lower abs almost a week ago. It definitely hurts with the heat and helps with the cold but the hard part is being able to breathe through it since the applicator belt is so tight. I had to count 20 sec and it cooled before I got there. That day it felt like a bad rug burn on my belly. I massaged a lot. I was told next day would feel like a hard ab workout but I had nothing. I keep massaging and working out as usual and hope for the best. My 2nd treatment is 5 weeks after. Good luck. BTW, if I knew it would be like that I would have thought twice about doing it but hope it's worth it.

  • Beth
    Posted on

    I'm interested in doing sculpsure. It appears that most patients see results. But I'm wondering about the long-term results? I would like to hear from someone that had it done a year or so after the Sculpsure procedure. I heard mixed reviews with CoolSculpting and that the fat deposits in the area came back. Thank you!

  • Anon
    Posted on

    I just had my free consultation and I am seriously considering in getting this treatment done. Is any anybody able to provide feedback on what results they have seen with their treatment?

  • Anonymous
    Posted on

    I had sculpsure done two weeks ago. I would compare it to mild menstrual cramps with heat, but it's totally bearable. For the last five minutes of treatment I had her to boost it to the max. I must admit, I was waiting for the doctor to say "push!" That's right it felt like labor pains, but it cools just when you think you cannot handle the discomfort. I'm due back for treatment two in four more weeks and I'm excited.

  • Ian Stevens
    Posted on

    I was going to do Coolsculpting because it was what I had heard of. I went for the consultation and even scheduled it. But then I started reading online of numerous people talking about the severe paint that starts about 4 days after and lasts a couple of weeks. Some said they needed pain medication and couldn't sleep. So I decided Sculpsure. Most seem to say the stomach hurts worse than flanks, but not for me. With the flanks I was in an uncomfortable position on the table and that made it worse. The stomach was very tolerable, but is more sore the day after. The flanks are barely tender and only if I push on them. The stomach has a bit of tenderness but no more than after a hard ab workout.

  • Suzanne R
    Posted on

    Would it be recommended to take Tylenol or Advil prior to this? Or apply a cream to numb the skin? From comments the pain level sounds high.

  • Deborah
    Posted on

    Hi, I'm curious about Kristen A's comment. Can someone respond to whether or not this can cause nerve damage, if too much heat is applied? It sure sounds painful, not sure if that's a good thing and maybe cool sculpting would be better?

  • Jen
    Posted on

    I just had this done yesterday on my lower abdomen and pretty much had the exact same experience. At first, it was more of a needle-like feeling, then it turned into bad cramps (never had a baby, but if that's only a fraction of what it feels like, give me an epidural!) Like you said, just when it got intolerable, it started to cool. Finally, the last 8 minutes, I had her turn it down a skosh and it definitely helped, but still uncomfortable. It also didn't help that where they were placed, I was strapped in very tight so it was hard to take a deep breath. However, if I get results, definitely worth it, may go back and try for flanks. My doc recommended only one treatment for me, so really hoping to see results. It's also motivating me to kick my workouts into a higher level.

  • Jennifer
    Posted on

    Elias Dermatology in Ft. Lauderdale has Sculpsure. Best office. The aesthetician was wonderful. Made me feel comfortable. She turned on a movie, put a fan in me and made a painful experience bearable. Plus, they have 2 board certified dermatologist's there should you need them.

  • CC
    Posted on

    I had this procedure done today on my lower abs. It was extremely painful for me. I've had three back surgeries but also, am admittedly wimpy. When it was at it's 'hottest' I thought I couldn't take it. The assistant put a fan on me and talked to help distract me. If it works half as well as your experience I will definitely go back!

  • Badeha H
    Posted on

    I have recently began doing these treatments on my MedSpa. I have seen that everyone is very different in there tolerance levels but I have only had to stop a treatment once for someone who says she doesn't tolerate heat well. Personally I thought it was very tolerable. The cycles of warm and cold are timed so that just when you don't like it very much, the cool cycle begins and gives you a nice break. It's such a quick treatment too. For a non invasive treatment, this works great and has little to no side effects. mild Soreness for a day or two has been the only report so far-knocking on my head as not to jinx myself :)

  • Chantelle
    Posted on

    Thanks for your article. I just had the procedure today and experienced everything you did.

  • Julia
    Posted on

    I went in for a Sculpsure treatment today on my inner thighs and it was SO painful! We were only 3 minutes into it and had to stop the treatment. I was as the lowest setting of what would be considered necessary for results - I honestly have no idea how other people bear it. I don't have a low threshold for pain either, so I don't know if the inner thighs are just much more sensitive.

  • Sidella
    Posted on

    I'm the owner of Forever Young MedSpa in Cooper City, Florida. We've had the SculpSure since December of last year and patient discomfort ranges from none to very moderate levels. Thinner patients seem to have the most discomfort however in the hundreds of patients we've treated, only 1 could not finish a session. Most patients will need two sessions in the areas treated about 6-8 weeks apart to maximize results. Many patients also opt to treat multiple areas at the same time. As an example patients can have their upper and lower abs, flanks and love handles or bra bulges all done in about 1.5 hours or less.

  • Jessica
    Posted on

    How many treatments do you need to see best results? Is there a limit you can do in certain amount of time?!

  • Posted on

    Thank you for your candid story!. I personally have seen wonderful results with this device as well and the discomfort is typical and expected. Kudos to the company for this advancement in technology. We are living in interesting times for those of us looking for noninvasive maintenance therapies.

  • Kristen A.
    Posted on

    It seems everyone reacts differently to this treatment, so I think it's important to know if the device is able to detect the person's specific body temperature, etc., before going to work? For instance, if not tailored to each person, could someone's nerves be damaged if too much heat is applied? Would also love to hear about the final results of this editor's experience!

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