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Swelling After CoolSculpting: A Complete Guide

Don’t Fret the Swelling – Your Future Sleek Physique is on the Way!

Swelling is normal after CoolSculpting because the cold damages fat cells, causing inflammation as your body removes the dead cells. This swelling usually goes away within 1-3 weeks without needing any medication.

Stubborn fat bulges that won't budge with diet and exercise. Pinchable parts around the belly, thighs, and arms that keep you from looking and feeling your best. Most of us have had an area of fat we just couldn't seem to target - no matter how disciplined our lifestyle. 

CoolSculpting offers an innovative way to address exercise- and diet-resistant fat safely and effectively, with long-lasting results and little to no downtime. This non-surgical body contouring procedure selectively freezes unwanted fat cells which are then eliminated from the body for good.

While CoolSculpting delivers noticeable, natural-looking fat reduction in targeted areas, temporary swelling is a common side effect following treatment. This swelling may cause treated areas to appear fuller before enhancing results emerge. But there's no need to worry! This is a normal part of the body’s natural inflammatory response. 

Here's your complete guide to understanding, managing, and resolving swelling after CoolSculpting for the slimmed-down shape you want.

What is CoolSculpting and How Does it Work?

Coolsculpting on Stomach

CoolSculpting is a non-invasive fat reduction treatment that uses controlled cooling technology to reduce stubborn fat in specific areas of the body. During a CoolSculpting session, an applicator is placed on the targeted area. 

This applicator uses vacuum pressure and precisely controlled cooling to draw fat bulges between two cooling panels. The cold temperature causes fat cells in the treated area to crystallize and die off. Over the next 2-4 months, the body naturally eliminates these dead fat cells.

CoolSculpting is not a weight loss treatment, but rather a body contouring procedure to reduce small, diet- and exercise-resistant fat bulges. It works by selectively targeting fat cells in specific problem areas. 

Common treatment areas include:

  • Abdomen and flanks (love handles or muffin top)
  • Thighs, including inner and outer thighs 
  • Back, including upper and lower back as well as "bra bulge" fat
  • Buttocks 
  • Arms, including the upper arms 
  • Chin and jawline area

Each session can reduce the fat layer in a treated area by up to 20%. Most patients see optimal results after 1-3 treatment sessions per area.

Discover how our revolutionary CoolSculpting technology safely eliminates stubborn fat at NJ Center for CoolSculpting

Swelling After CoolSculpting: What to Expect

Swelling is a common side effect after CoolSculpting. It is caused by the inflammatory response as the body works to eliminate the damaged fat cells.

For the first 3 weeks after the procedure, it is normal for the treated area to feel bloated and appear swollen. This swelling is due to fluid retention and inflammation triggered by the death of fat cells.

The majority of patients experience the worst swelling and tenderness during the first week after their CoolSculpting session. The swelling typically subsides within 1-3 weeks for most patients. However, the duration can vary - some may only have swelling for a few days, while others can experience it for up to 2-3 weeks.

What Causes Swelling After CoolSculpting?

There are a few key reasons swelling occurs after CoolSculpting:

  • Inflammation: The cold temperatures used in CoolSculpting destroy fat cells, causing them to crystallize and die. This damages the cell membranes and triggers an inflammatory response as the body works to remove the dead cells. Fluid buildup and swelling occurs around the treatment area as part of this inflammatory process.
  • Water Retention: The lymphatic system becomes more active after CoolSculpting to clear away the crystallized fat cells. Increased lymphatic drainage to the treated area can cause the body to retain water and swell around the site.
  • Natural Response: CoolSculpting impacts local blood vessels, initially causing them to constrict. When the blood vessels expand again, it leads to fluid pooling and swelling. This vascular response is part of the body's natural reaction to the disruptive effects of freezing.

How Long Does Swelling Last After CoolSculpting?

Swelling is a normal side effect of CoolSculpting that typically resolves within 1-3 weeks. Here is a general timeline of what to expect:

TimeframeExpected Effects
First 24 hoursSwelling, redness and tenderness peaks in the first 24 hours after treatment.
1 weekMost swelling subsides within the first week but residual swelling is common.
2-3 weeksIt can take a full 2-3 weeks for residual swelling to completely resolve.
1-2 monthsIn rare cases, some patients may experience occasional mild swelling for up to 2 months.

The duration of swelling can vary based on the treatment area, number of cycles performed, and individual response. Areas with more fat like the abdomen may swell longer than smaller areas like the arms or chin. 

Multiple back-to-back CoolSculpting cycles can also prolong swelling. While most patients see the majority of swelling resolve within 1-3 weeks, it's important to be patient through the full recovery process.

Get a detailed timeline of when you can expect swelling to resolve completely after your CoolSculpting session at NJ Center for CoolSculpting

How to Reduce Swelling After CoolSculpting

While post-CoolSculpting swelling will resolve fully on its own, there are a few ways patients can help control swelling and speed up recovery:

  • Wear a compression garment: Compression helps minimize fluid buildup and swelling. Use an elastic wrap, compression shorts or garments provided by your practitioner.
  • Gentle massage: Light massage of the treated area can help drain fluid and reduce swelling. Avoid vigorous massage over sensitive/numb areas.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water post-treatment to flush out toxins and excess fluid. Avoid alcohol which causes fluid retention.
  • Avoid anti-inflammatory meds: Ibuprofen and other OTC drugs may interfere with the natural inflammatory process needed to clear away dead fat cells.
  • Apply cold packs: Ice packs constrict blood vessels to reduce fluid pooling and decrease swelling. Use ice for 10 mins at a time after treatment.
  • Avoid salt: Salty foods lead to water retention and swelling. Stick to a low-sodium diet in the weeks after CoolSculpting.
  • Keep treatment areas elevated: This allows gravity to reduce fluid buildup in the treated spots and minimize swelling.
  • Be patient: Allow time for your body to fully eliminate the dead fat cells. Swelling should resolve within a few weeks to months.

Avoid applying heat or soaking in hot baths, which can worsen post-CoolSculpting swelling. Always consult your practitioner about appropriate swelling management tips.

Medications for Swelling After CoolSculpting

While some patients wish to take medication to reduce CoolSculpting side effects like swelling more quickly, we do not advise oral drugs after the procedure.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is generally considered safe for pain relief after CoolSculpting, as it does not impact inflammation. However, patients are typically advised to avoid unnecessary medications and allow swelling to resolve naturally.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are not recommended following CoolSculpting. NSAIDs can interfere with the natural inflammatory response needed to clear away targeted fat cells.

It is generally recommended to avoid anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or high-dose aspirin for at least 6 weeks after CoolSculpting. These drugs may disrupt the body's natural healing processes.

Other drugs that increase bleeding and bruising, such as blood thinners and fish oil supplements, should also be avoided after treatment.

Arnica gel may be used to help reduce bruising and swelling. Gabapentin can help relieve nerve pain for some post-surgery patients.

Consult NJ Center for CoolSculpting before taking any medication to treat side effects like swelling. Your medical history determines what drugs may be appropriate. 

When to Be Concerned About Swelling After CoolSculpting

For most patients, normal swelling after CoolSculpting is not a cause for concern and will dissipate within 1-2 months at the most. However, contact your CoolSculpting provider right away if you experience:

Signs of Complication
Significant swelling lasting longer than 3-4 weeks
Swelling accompanied by intense pain
Asymmetrical or isolated swelling e.g. swelling on just one side or a small section
Swelling that seems to worsen over time rather than improve
Hard lumps or nodules under the skin around the treatment site
Swelling, redness and warmth consistent with an infection
Any other side effects that inhibit your daily activities for more than a few days

While not common, a small number of patients may develop side effects like paradoxical hyperplasia (increase in fat cells), vasovagal symptoms, frostbite injury or other rare reactions that cause severe or prolonged swelling after CoolSculpting. Always contact your doctor promptly to have unusual swelling evaluated after the procedure.

Contact NJ Center for CoolSculpting right away if you have unusual swelling so we can promptly evaluate and address any potential complications

Is CoolSculpting Right For Me?

While CoolSculpting is proven to safely reduce fat without surgery or downtime, results vary based on each patient's unique body composition and treatment goals. Thoroughly consult with an experienced CoolSculpting provider from NJ Center for CoolSculpting to determine if it's the right option for you.

Ideal CoolSculpting candidates include people who:

  • Struggle with small, localized fat pockets on the body
  • Are already close to their goal weight but can't eliminate stubborn fat bulges
  • Want subtle body contouring without surgery or anesthesia risks
  • Do not have underlying health issues impacted by fat cells or cold exposure

We can review your areas of concern, cosmetic goals, and medical history to create a customized CoolSculpting plan. Multiple sessions are usually required for the best outcome.

Combining CoolSculpting with a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain your sleeker physique long-term after completing treatment. This non-invasive technology eliminates fat cells for good so they cannot return or repopulate other areas.


Coolsculpting Treatment at NJ Center For Coolsculpting

CoolSculpting offers a revolutionary way to reduce stubborn fat non-surgically using Cryolipolysis technology. Mild to moderate swelling is a common side effect in the first few weeks after treatment. This swelling gradually dissipates as the body naturally eliminates the disrupted fat cells.

Have patience through the initial swelling phase and avoid taking oral medications to speed up recovery. With appropriate post-procedure care, swelling should resolve within 1-2 months. Optimal CoolSculpting results emerge over a 2-6 month period once the dead fat cells have been fully cleared away.

Always consult your CoolSculpting provider about any unusual side effects. Allow time for the inflammation to run its course and swelling to subside so you can enjoy the contoured, slimmed-down results.

Don’t let minor swelling deter you from achieving the slimmed-down shape you desire. Contact our experienced CoolSculpting providers at NJ Center for CoolSculpting today for a consultation. Let us help determine if CoolSculpting is right for you!

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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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