After a week and two ER visits, TikTok user Toriixoxo took to the app to share her unfortunate experience having a treatment done to freeze excess fat underneath her chin. “This was me two weeks ago before I went in for a CoolSculpting treatment. I didn’t have the most defined jawline, but it was there,” she says in the viral video while showing a photo of her pre-treated jawline.
The 29-year-old social media user then reveals a massive burn underneath her chin, which she says was caused by the treatment. “What I’m about to show you is a three-day old second-degree burn from CoolSculpting. It is very graphic. My voice is even gone because my throat has swelled so much that it’s affecting my vocal cords. If you have a weak stomach, keep scrolling.”
Toriixoxo goes on to say that she made the video to search for answers and find someone else who’d had a similar experience as she could not find one botched case like hers. After many years reporting on CoolSculpting treatments, and even undergoing the treatment ourselves, we’d never seen a result quite like this before either, so we reached out to our experts to find out what could have caused this.
“Wow, this is so disturbing,” says Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby. “Of the thousands of Coolsculpting applications we have done I’ve never seen anything remotely close to this type of reaction,” she notes.
“Firstly, I would establish that this was a ‘real’ CoolSculpting device,” advises Dr. Allenby. “The program is very sensitive to ‘thermal events,’ which means the device is always monitoring skin temperature for safety and efficiency reasons and turns itself off. Unfortunately, there are knock off devices out there.”
New York plastic surgeon David Rapaport, MD adds that this is a first for him too and he believes something either with the device or the practitioner was amiss: “I personally am not aware of any thermal skin injury occurring out of over 20,000 applicator uses performed by my Coolspa medspa. My suspicion is that this fat-freezing procedure was not done on a CoolSculpting certified machine or by practitioners who were trained and certified by CoolSculpting.”
While this patient’s result is not anything like our doctors have ever seen, Dr. Allenby says one probability could be that it is an adverse reaction to the adhesive used and not the machine. “I wonder if it’s a burn or a severe allergic reaction to the adhesive sheet that is placed between the applicator and the patient’s skin. An allergic reaction can look just like this too.”
The experts we spoke to agree on two things: First, that a prospective CoolSculpting patient should ensure that their practitioner has been certified and trained by CoolSculpting University; and secondly, that this case should be reported to Allergan for further investigation. “Machine malfunction is highly unlikely as they are designed with failsafes to immediately stop the treatment in the event there is an issue like thermal malfunction,” adds Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew Elias. “For this case and anything like it, I’d also advise the patient or the practitioner to reach out to Allergan, the makers of Coolsculpting, to report the event and so that a proper investigation can be undertaken to see what went wrong.”