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How Long for Lumps to Resolve After CoolSculpting?

With more advanced technologies in the cosmetic dermatology industry, it’s not surprising for minimally invasive fat reduction and body contouring treatments to become popular alternatives to liposuction. And while a CoolSculpting session might be what you need to get rid of excess fat, some people are worried about the possible appearance of lumps and if they ever go away.

So how long does it take for the lumps to disappear after a CoolSculpting treatment? Like other common side effects, it might take a few weeks for the lumps to go away on their own after a CoolSculpting procedure. But if the lumps persist or become painful, it’s best to consult a doctor immediately because it might be a sign of a rare complication called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH).

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Do the Lumps After CoolSculpting Go Away on Their Own?

CoolSculpting is a revolutionary body sculpting treatment that uses fat freezing technology to get rid of unwanted fat cells in the treatment area. The procedure only affects subcutaneous fat because the CoolSculpting applicator doesn’t reach deep enough to get rid of visceral fat. It’s also a popular alternative to a liposuction procedure with over 8 million treatments performed worldwide.

Although CoolSculpting is a safe procedure recommended for almost anyone with stubborn fat deposits, it still comes with certain risks and possible side effects that patients should know. Pain and temporary skin irritation may occur in the treated area, but they usually subside after a few days or weeks. Some CoolSculpting patients may also notice a lump on their skin before the full CoolSculpting results show.

Are Lumps After CoolSculpting Normal?

Yes, some hard lumps may form underneath the skin a few weeks after the minimally invasive cosmetic procedure because of the way it eliminates unwanted body fat. The correct medical term for this is “cold panniculitis” which happens when there’s an inflammation of the treatment area caused by extremely cold temperatures or fat freezing treatments. 

The cold panniculitis or small lumps that form after a CoolSculpting treatment are different from liposuction lumps. The bumps after a CoolSculpting treatment develop because of cold temperatures while lipo lumps appear because of the tunnels created underneath the skin as the cannula is used.

A CoolSculpting patient may develop cold panniculitis because of the treatment’s effects, but the dead fat cells eventually disappear in the treated areas as the inflammation subsides. These lumps may also feel stiff and uncomfortable but they eventually go away.

How Long Does It Take Before the Lumps Go Away?

The small lumps that appear on the inner thigh, stomach, arm, or other treatment areas eventually disappear on their own after a few weeks. They’re a common side effect of CoolSculpting that patients should be aware of and they usually bring discomfort to patients. If the lumps are still visible on the skin several weeks after the treatment, then the patient should inform their doctor about the symptom immediately.

What Can I Do to Get Rid of the Small Lumps Quickly?

Although the appearance of small lumps is a common side effect that goes away on its own even without medical intervention, it’s still an uncomfortable symptom that some CoolSculpting patients want to eliminate as soon as possible.

Gently massaging the treatment areas helps with the resolution of the small lumps because it improves blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. The plastic surgeon or doctor may also recommend wearing a compression garment for a few weeks following the fat loss treatment to avoid the formation of small bumps on the skin.

When Should I Consult a Doctor About the Lumps?

The appearance of small lumps after the minimally invasive fat removal procedure shouldn’t be a cause for alarm for most people, but patients should still monitor the treated area in case the symptoms worsen or persist. If the discomfort from the lumps becomes unbearable, you may consult a doctor about taking painkillers or other ways to relieve pain.

On the other hand, the prolonged appearance of lumps may also be a sign of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, a rare side effect of CoolSculpting that causes the treated area to bulge and feel stiff. This condition can be treated with different procedures, but patients have to consult a medical professional first.

Everything to Know About Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia and CoolSculpting

CoolSculpting is a helpful fat removal treatment for patients who want to get rid of localized fat pockets without going through plastic surgery. However, it’s crucial to remember that it’s a treatment for simply eliminating fat so it might not help much for weight loss. Patients should make sure that they’re the right candidate for this kind of treatment so they can avoid or minimize unwanted side effects like pain, aching, temporary skin irritation, and more.

Although this treatment is safe for the most part, some patients are still worried about the possibility of developing the “stick of butter” side effect of CoolSculpting and other cryolipolysis procedures. 

What PAH Is and Why It Appears

Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) is a rare complication associated with CoolSculpting that got its name from the unexpected overgrowth of fatty tissues in the treated area. In some cases, it may take about 8 to 24 weeks for the PAH to appear in the form of a hardened and visibly enlarged treatment area.

CoolSculpting uses a fat freezing technology that chills the tissue to the point that the unwanted fat cells in the area crystallize and disintegrate. But in the case of PAH, these fat cells grow bigger and firmer than before. The resulting side effect looks like a “stick of butter” that takes after the shape of the CoolSculpting applicator. 

How Common is PAH in CoolSculpting Patients

This side effect is considered rare, but there isn’t a firm statistic about it yet. A study published by JAMA Dermatology in 2014 shows that the side effect has a 0.0051% incidence rate or about 1 out of 20,000 treated patients. On the other hand, the manufacturer data shows that the incidence rate of PAH is slightly higher at 1 out of 4,000 treated patients (0.025%).

Another study in 2018 shows that PAH might be more common than initially thought at a 0.72% incidence rate. However, this study is only based on a small sample size of 11 patients.

How PAH Is Treated

Although PAH is more of a cosmetic concern than a physically dangerous complication, many patients still want to get rid of it. Unfortunately, PAH won’t go away on its own so patients need to try either of the following treatment methods:

1) Surgical Liposuction

Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia is fully treatable with liposuction, but patients need to wait for about 6 to 9 months first before the surgical procedure. Waiting is crucial because it allows the hardened fat to soften enough for safe removal. If the patient receives a liposuction treatment immediately after the PAH develops, there’s a huge risk that the PAH might only recur.

Liposuction is a surgical fat removal procedure that involves using a cannula to extract the fat cells from the treatment area. The fat tissues are broken up first before they’re vacuumed out of the body, effectively reversing the effects of PAH.

But like other plastic surgery procedures, patients need to wait for a few weeks until the treated area is fully healed after the liposuction treatment. It may also take them several days to feel comfortable enough to perform normal activities at home.

2) Laser-Assisted Liposuction

Laser-assisted liposuction is another effective way to get rid of the hardened fat deposits after a CoolSculpting treatment. It’s less invasive than surgical liposuction, so it’s the preferred alternative for some PAH patients. With this method, the dense fat deposits are heated and liquified first before they’re suctioned out of the body.

During the treatment, the plastic surgeon creates a small incision on the treatment area where the laser is inserted and placed underneath the skin. The heat from the laser ruptures and liquefies the fat cells so they’re easier to remove. As the fat turns soft and liquid, the doctor then uses a cannula to suction the fat out of the treatment area.

Since this procedure is minimally invasive, the tissues around the treatment sites won’t be as damaged as they would be in surgical liposuction. There’s also less likelihood of swelling or bruising after the treatment.

How to Minimize the Risk of Lumps, PAH, and Other Side Effects

Even with safe and minimally invasive treatments like CoolSculpting, there are still some downtime and side effects that patients would like to avoid. To minimize these risks and speed up healing after your treatment, here are some tips to help maximize your recovery:

  • Do your homework and research everything to know about the treatment, its risks, and its results.
  • Find a reputable provider to perform the treatment for you.
  • Eat healthily and drink lots of water after the procedure.
  • Wear compression clothing for a few weeks after the treatment to increase blood and lymphatic flow.
  • Massage the treated areas according to the instructions from your provider.
  • Take a short break from your exercise routine right after the CoolSculpting treatment, but make sure to still stay active after a few weeks.

The Best CoolSculpting Treatments by Certified Experts at NJ Center for CoolSculpting

The appearance of lumps is a normal side effect of CoolSculpting, but patients should still consult with a healthcare professional if it worsens or persists. Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia is a rare side effect of this procedure, but finding a trusted provider can help you avoid this kind of complication.

At NJ Center for CoolSculpting, we always ensure our patient’s safety to help minimize their risk of developing small lumps, PAH, and other CoolSculpting side effects. Book a consultation with us today to know more about CoolSculpting and what it can do for you.

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Up to 25% Fat Reduction With CoolSculpting: Treat Yourself Today!


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What Our Clients Say About Us

  • "The treatment itself was not uncomfortable. Afterwords, I felt great. I didn't really notice anything for about 30 days. After day 30 until about a month later, I started noticing that my favorite jeans were not as tight anymore. I wasn't having to suck in to get them buttoned. And by that two month period after my CoolSculpting

    Lesley Hamilton

    Age 41

  • "It's subtle at first, and then a month later you look and go, "Wow - It really did something!" It really moved the bar for me, and I'm feeling better about myself already. It feels so good to put on anything and know I look as good as I've ever looked. And I didn't say that or feel that when I was in my 20's, 30's, and 40's."

    Anne McMarthy

    Age 56

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