There is an allure to a completely non-surgical procedure for fat reduction. Many of the options for nonsurgical fat reduction procedures have minimal (or no) results. When CoolSculpting came on the cosmetic surgery market in 2010, it was the first completely non-invasive procedure that actually worked and had the science to back it. Since CoolSculpting’s FDA approval, there have been several competitors (such as SculptSure from Cynosure) which do provide results, but there is yet to be anything that is proven better than CoolSculpting in the realm of non-surgical body contouring.
So how does the CoolSculpting procedure compare to surgical procedures like liposuction? Read on to find out!
How Does CoolSculpting Work?
CoolSculpting uses controlled cooling (cryolipolysis) to actually freeze fat cells, decreasing the temperature of the tissues in the treatment area to a level that crystallizes fat cells while leaving other tissues unharmed. Because fat cells freeze at a higher temperature than skin and muscle cells, controlled cooling can be used to selectively remove excess fat. And it does remove fat! Each CoolSculpting treatment results in about a 20% reduction in the amount of fat in the treated area. These crystalized fat cells rupture, causing the destruction of the cell. As a result, fat removal with CoolSculpting is permanent.
How Many CoolSculpting Treatments are Needed for Stomach?
So if each CoolSculpting treatment provides a 20% reduction in the fat, then 5 cycles should give you 100% removal of all of the fat, right? Unfortunately, no. Each treatment provides a 20% reduction in the REMAINING fat in the area. The number of cycles needed to treat your particular case will depend on how much stubborn fat is in the targeted area, how your body fat is distributed (all over the abdomen and love handles vs just a “pooch” in the lower tummy) and what your goals are with the procedure.
How Long Does a CoolSculpting Treatment Take?
This is definitely something to take into consideration as you decide whether CoolSculpting or liposuction would be a better treatment for you. With the newer applicators, each treatment cycle will take about 35 minutes for most areas. For a “pooch,” you may only need 1 cycle per round and anywhere from 1-4 rounds to get the results that you’re hoping for. If you do 1 round per week, it could take you 4 weeks just to get the treatments completed and then 3 months for full results. If you are treating full abdomen and love handles, it may take 6-8 cycles per round. That means that each round could take more than 4 hours! So why choose CoolSculpting? The recovery time is essentially none. Most patients have little discomfort after the treatments and some patients even return to work the same day! The lack of recovery time may make up for the time you spend having the treatments.
What are the Risks of Getting CoolSculpting?
If the CoolSculpting procedure is completely non-invasive and there is no significant recovery time, are there any risks? The most common risks associated with CoolSculpting are bruising and soreness. For most patients, Ibuprofen or acetaminophen is all that is needed (if anything!) to relieve the discomfort after CoolSculpting. The best known serious side effect of CoolSculpting is fat hypertrophy. This is where the fat deposits increase in the treated area instead of decreasing. The incidence is very low and it can be treated with liposuction if it occurs.
What is the Downside of CoolSculpting?
There may be several, depending on your individual case. Typically, treatments that are less invasive give less impressive results. While that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a great result with CoolSculpting, it will probably take more than a single treatment and it will take longer to achieve your full results. The other major downside to CoolSculpting is that it doesn’t really provide any significant level of skin tightening. This can be relevant in several target areas, such as the double chin, upper arms and abdomen. There are some studies that show an increase in collagen in the area, but it generally isn’t really something that most patients notice. If you have a lot of loose skin, you may benefit from a tummy tuck.
How Long Does the Fat Stay Gone After CoolSculpting?
Because the fat cells have been destroyed, they can no longer be used to store fat. That means that CoolSculpting results are “permanent.” It is important to keep in mind that if you have treated 20% of the fat cells in an area, there are 80% of the cells remaining. These remaining fat cells are ready and able to store fat. For this reason, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stable weight after your CoolSculpting treatment.
Is There Anything Better Than CoolSculpting?
As I mentioned previously, CoolSculpting is one of the few non-invasive fat reduction treatments that gives significant results. There are other treatments that provide similar results (such as SculptSure), but there are no non-invasive fat removal treatments that are better.
How Does Liposuction Work?
Liposuction uses tiny cannulas placed through small incisions to remove fat from stubborn areas. It can be combined with energy based procedures to reduce downtime and risks as well to provide skin tightening. Liposuction is considered a minimally invasive surgical procedure. The treatment is done under local anesthetic (general anesthesia is not usually needed for a liposuction case).
Generally, liposuction surgery is considered a “one and you’re done” treatment. It does not usually require multiple treatments to achieve a nice result.
Most lipo patients are back to normal activities in 2-3 days and back to work in about 3-5 days.
Because it removes the fat cells, a liposuction procedure provides permanent fat reduction.
Does CoolSculpting Work Better Than Liposuction?
So we’re back to our original question…which is better, CoolSculpting or Liposuction? The answer is more complicated than you might think. It depends on your individual situation. Neither treatment is ideal for everyone.
CoolSculpting is best for patients
- Who cannot take time off of work
- Who are afraid of incisions or scars
- Who don’t want anyone to know that they’re “having work done,”
- Who have small, focal fat deposits
- Who can’t or don’t want to wear compression garments
- Who don’t mind repeated treatments
- Who don’t mind waiting for final results
Liposuction is best for patients
- Who want more significant fat reduction with fewer treatments
- Who can afford to take some time for the recovery period (generally 3-5 days)
- Who don’t mind telling their significant other they had plastic surgery
- Who have larger areas of fat deposits or more diffuse distribution of fat
- Who need skin tightening in addition to fat removal
- Who want faster, more dramatic results
It should be noted that neither of these procedures is a weight loss treatment. Ideal patients for CoolSculpting and Liposuction should be at or near their ideal body weight (generally a BMI of 30 or less, though this is not always the case.)
The discussion for which treatment is best should also include the average cost of each procedure. When multiple treatments are required (as with CoolSculpting), there are generally separate charges for each treatment. This may make the CoolSculpting cost higher than what you might expect. The cost of liposuction should be all inclusive and just a single expense. In general, one isn’t less expensive than the other if you are looking for similar results.
If you still have questions about which body sculpting treatment will be best for you, we would love to meet you in a consultation. Our board certified cosmetic surgeons are well versed in both CoolSculpting and Liposuction and will give their best, honest advice on which treatment plan will help attain your desired results.
Contact Us Today
If you are interested in learning more about liposuction, Renuvion, Profound or other treatments, please call us at 402-347-4433 and one of the friendly voices at our front desk would be happy to schedule your free consultation today. At your complimentary consultation, one of our board-certified team members will discuss your goals for a sharper jawline and the benefits and possible side effects of the treatments, as well as cost and financing. If you are not in Omaha, Lincoln, Council Bluffs or the surrounding Nebraska/Iowa metro, we do offer virtual consultations as well!