CoolSculpting is an FDA approved cryolipolysis treatment for fat reduction and body contouring. CoolSculpting was developed by Zeltiq and is managed by Allergan (the same company that makes the Botox and fillers that you know and love). That means that CoolSculpting uses targeted cooling to freeze your excess fat cells, killing the cells and reducing volume in the treated area.
The CoolSculpting applicators have a curved cooling plate surrounded by a silicone form which is attached to a vacuum. The vacuum pulls the stubborn fat bulge into the applicator and holds it against the cooling plate. The cycles take from 35-120 minutes depending on which applicator and which area you are treating (most cycles are 35 minutes, the outer thigh treatment is 120 minutes). During the cycle, the subcutaneous fat cells will become crystalized, rupturing the cell membrane and killing the cell.
Approximately 20-25% of the cells in a treated area will be eliminated with each treatment. When combined with caloric restriction or general weight loss, the sculpting results can be impressive! There is minimal downtime associated with CoolSculpting (one of it’s biggest benefits) and most patients don’t have to take any time off of work.
Does CoolSculpting Tighten Skin?
A common question that we get while discussing CoolSculpting is “Is CoolSculpting good for body skin tightening?” While CoolSculpting does cause some inflammation in the treated areas, which typically does lead to collagen production, the amount of skin tightening is usually clinically negligible. Fortunately, there are other cosmetic procedures that can be used in place of or in combination with the fat freezing technology.
Does CoolSculpting Tighten Skin Under Chin?
There was a study done in 2017 which showed a “significant“ reduction in skin laxity of the submental region (double chin) with treatment by the CoolMini. This was when Allergan began advertising CoolSculpting as a ”double solution.” Although this study led to the CoolMini’s FDA Clearance for improvement in the appearance of lax tissue, it is important to note that a “significant“ difference noted by researchers is different than a “significant“ difference noted by patients looking for a result. While there may be measurable improvements in looseness of neck skin with CoolSculpting treatment, we haven’t found it to be a huge improvement in patient’s eyes. For patients who have moderate skin laxity in their neck, we often recommend SmartLipo combined with Renuvion. For those with severe skin laxity, we may refer them to a plastic surgeon for a neck lift.
How long does it take for the skin to tighten after CoolSculpting?
Any skin tightening that may happen as a result of a CoolSculpting treatment will most certainly be gradual, occurring over several months. For this reason, before and after photos are important to help track progress.
If It Tightens Skin, Can CoolSculpting be Used to Treat Cellulite?
CoolSculpting is not typically used to treat Cellulite. There are several reasons for this. First, the skin tightening is minimal. Second, a large contributor to cellulite is the presence of fibrous bands within the skin structure. CoolSculpting does not address these bands and therefore does not lead to significant Cellulite improvement. Third, volume reduction (the main purpose of the fat freezing treatment) can lead to a worsening of cellulite.
What Happens to Excess Skin After CoolSculpting?
If you already have sagging skin, can you still do CoolSculpting? The short answer is yes, but your CoolSculpting results may not be what you expect. CoolSculpting is generally thought of as a fat reduction treatment, not a skin tightening treatment. To examine what sort of results you can expect, we have to look at the causes of skin laxity.
What Causes Saggy Skin?
As we age, we lose the building blocks that support our skin structure and allow the skin to stretch and recoil. Those building blocks are:
- Hyaluronic Acid
Pregnancy and weight gain and loss cycles cause our skin to stretch. This damages the connective tissue fibers and limits the capacity to recoil. Genetics, hormonal changes and some medical conditions and medications can also contribute to our skin being more lax.
What is the Downside of CoolSculpting with Excess Skin?
We often find that some non-invasive methods of fat reduction, such as CoolSculpting, can result in a worsening of saggy skin because the fat that was “pushing” the skin out is gone (kind of like what happens when you deflate a balloon.) Because of this, it is essential for your doctor to do a good examination of your skin quality prior to any fat reduction procedure. That way you can discuss expected results and your doctor can advise you of the best treatments for both your skin and your unwanted fat.
Does CoolSculpting Cause Loose Skin?
CoolSculpting does not cause loose skin. That being said, a side effect of CoolSculpting can be an increase in the appearance of lax tissue because it lessens the outward pressure on your skin (similar to what happens to a peach after several days…the volume of the fruit decreases through dehydration and the skin ends up being too large).
What is the Best Skin Tightening Treatment?
If skin laxity is a concern we often recommend treatments that not only eliminate fat, but also treat the skin, such as minimally invasive SmartLipo Triplex with Renuvion or Profound RF. If your skin laxity is severe, we may recommend more invasive plastic surgery, such as abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck). If a surgical treatment is not an option or the patient desires a non-invasive method of fat reduction, we may recommend CoolSculpting in combination with Profound.
Profound is an FDA approved treatment for skin sagging that can stimulate the production of all three building blocks: Collagen, Elastin and Hyaluronic Acid. This allows us to improve skin tone and to restore the skin’s natural recoil. Profound is a minimally invasive, in-office procedure with minimal social down time (i.e. bruising). It utilizes patented micro-needling and radiofrequency technology to reach the areas of the skin necessary to stimulate skin tightening.
Renuvion is FDA approved for tissue tightening and helps with contraction of areas of laxity. Renuvion uses a Helium and Radiofrequency plasma to shrink the tissues overlying the treatment area.
Is CoolSculpting Right for Me?
To determine if you would be a good candidate for CoolSculpting, you should have an in person consultation. Although we do offer virtual consultations, assessing the skin elasticity is very difficult without being able to stretch and pinch the skin. Our experienced team will give you our very best advice to help you make a decision about which treatments will get you the results you desire. If you have focalized areas of fat combined with minimal skin laxity, you may be a great candidate for CoolSculpting. The best CoolSculpting patients are at or near their ideal weight.
Schedule a Consultation for CoolSculpting
If you are interested in learning more about CoolSculpting, Liposuction, Skin Tightening or other cosmetic treatments, please call us at 402-347-4433 to schedule a free consultation. After a brief exam, our team will discuss your goals and the expectations for your results as well as cost and financing. If you are not in Omaha, Lincoln, Council Bluffs or the surrounding metro, we do offer virtual consultations as well!
Frank Soto León, MD is a cosmetic surgeon who is board certified through the American Board of Aesthetic Medicine. For more advice from Dr. Soto on cosmetic surgery and other aesthetic treatments please visit www.omahaliposuction.com where you can read his blog and see Before & After Photos of actual patients. If you have a question you would like to see answered as one of our blogs, let us know!