The answer is absolutely!
Two studies have been performed examining an immediate massage after cessation of the CoolSculpting treatment. In the first study (1 footnote) that was published in January of 2014, seventeen patients underwent the CoolSculpting procedure of their abdomen.
Immediately after the treatment was concluded, a two minute massage was performed on half of the CoolSculpting treatment area. The participants were subsequently followed for four months. Some participants underwent photos and ultrasound measurements to determine the efficacy of the massage, and other participants underwent biopsies with histological analysis to determine safety. Regarding efficacy, at the conclusion of the study (four months after CoolSculpting and massage), the mean fat layer reduction was 44% greater in the massage side. Histological results showed no evidence of necrosis or fibrosis resulting from the massage, suggesting the CoolSculpting and massage combination was safe in all participants. The study authors concluded that, “post-treatment manual massage is a safe and effective technique to enhance the clinical outcome from a cryolipolysis procedure.”
The second study was also published in 2014. This study looked at tissue temperatures during the CoolSculpting procedure, and found that massage returned tissue temperatures to normal more rapidly than not receiving massage. It was speculated that vigorous massage would accelerate the return of temperatures (as it did) and, by extension, oxygenated blood, to pretreatment levels. The restoration of oxygenated blood is believed to produce an array of free oxygen radicals, which could potentially add to tissue loss. In fact, the study investigators wrote in their conclusion that, “returning subdermal temperatures to pretreatment levels more rapidly after the procedure by continuous massage may result in additional adipocyte demise by releasing reactive oxygen species and activating other deleterious intracellular events that accompany reperfusion.”
The evidence suggests post-CoolSculpting massage is effective, but what is uncertain is why it is effective. It may be, as one of the study authors speculated, to be due to more rapid rewarming and subsequent reperfusion injuries to the fat cells. This, of course, suggests that a future study investigating applying topical rewarming (such as a heating pad) versus simple massage may be warranted. It is also possible that the massage offers mechanical destruction of the frozen fat cells that are in a structurally vulnerable state.
The CoolSculpting massage may be uncomfortable to the patient, particularly when the treatment area is in the abdomen. Fortunately the post-CoolSculpting standard massage is performed for only two minutes (based on the massage duration of the first study), and is rarely intolerable to the patient. It is important that the post-CoolSculpting massage be prompt upon the end of the CoolSculpting cycle to maximize results.
Having performed over 4800 CoolSculpting procedures, Pura Vida is southwest Florida’s CoolSculpting leader. If you have questions about CoolSculpting, or wish to have a free consultation, please call Pura Vida Medical Spa at 239-919-PURA (7872). We look forward to seeing you soon!