Your body’s fat cells were determined during childhood and adolescence, meaning that the number and location of your fat cells as an adult can be near-impossible to alter of no matter how much you diet or exercise. This stubborn fat looks different on every person depending on where they are genetically predisposed to carry their weight. CoolSculpting®, also known as cryolipolysis, is a technology developed to target these particularly hard-to-lose pockets of fat, and it permanently reduces the number of fat cells in treated areas in order to sculpt and tone the patient’s body. The question is, how effective is this treatment?
What is CoolSculpting®?
CoolSculpting® is a cosmetic medical treatment that freezes targeted fat cells so that the body can eliminate them with its natural processes. It is a completely non-invasive procedure, and unlike liposuction, it is low-risk and involves no surgery or anesthesia. This FDA-approved fat-reduction method is not a treatment for weight loss; instead, it is a medical procedure that will help patients reduce fat by up to twenty or twenty-five percent in targeted areas such as the thighs, flanks, upper arm, under the chin or jawline, back fat under the bra area, or under the buttocks.
This technique uses freezing temperatures in order to target fat cells and break them down specifically. The cold will not damage the other cells in your body in the same way it breaks down the fat cells, so CoolSculpting® will not cause you to suffer any damage to your skin, muscle, or surrounding tissue. The procedure itself involves a licensed practitioner using a vacuum against your skin to suction the fat tissue into a cold applicator and apply freezing cold temperatures between thirty and forty degrees Fahrenheit for the duration of approximately an hour. This is a typically painless, sometimes even relaxing, process during which a patient can read a book or watch TV. After this, the practitioner will massage the area for a few minutes. The cold applied numbs the area, creating minimal pain or discomfort with no need for the extensive recovery time of an invasive weight-reduction procedure. Because CoolSculpting® does not cause any damage to the tissue or skin, most recipients report feeling no pain, and a few report soreness similar to that experienced after working out or suffering a small muscle injury.
Most of these procedures will take approximately one hour in the office, and then around four to six weeks of waiting for the body to dispose of the frozen fat cells. There is often little to no recovery time for patients after CoolSculpting® because the side effects are minor and because the procedure is not invasive. After waiting four to six weeks, you will see the results, and the fat cells treated by CoolSculpting® decrease by an average of twenty percent. Depending on the area treated and the individual, multiple CoolSculpting® sessions may be necessary for optimum results. This form of fat reduction has a high success rate with few risks or side effects, and it is a viable option for both men and women looking to reduce the appearance of unwanted fat that does not respond to diet and exercise.
Does CoolSculpting® Actually Work?
This form of cryolipolysis has a high rate of success in removing undesired pockets of body fat, and it has fewer side effects than other fat reduction treatments. It is important to keep in mind that this procedure reduces fat cells in target areas by an average of about twenty percent; it is not total removal of all fat, nor is it a weight loss treatment. Although CoolSculpting® does focus on areas that defy weight loss by exercise and diet, these lifestyle factors are important, meaning those who remain active and eat a healthy diet can expect to see better fat reduction results from their CoolSculpting® session. While this procedure can reduce fat, it cannot tighten the skin. If a patient’s skin has stretched over fatty buildup, there may be excess loose skin following CoolSculpting®. You can talk to a doctor to determine your skin elasticity and to decide if you will be able to get the results you want from this type of treatment.
Research has indicated that CoolSculpting® is a generally effective and safe targeted fat-removal treatment. A 2015 study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery titled “Cryolipolysis for Fat Reduction and Body Contouring: Safety and Efficacy of Current Treatment Paradigms” compiled data from nineteen prior studies of CoolSculpting®. The researchers determined that it is a “promising procedure for nonsurgical fat reduction and body contouring and presents a compelling alternative to liposuction and other, more invasive methods.” Based on the results of this study, there are not any major health risks associated with cryolipolysis. Patients experienced no decrease in their lipid levels or liver function, which indicates that CoolSculpting® is strictly cosmetic with no significant impact on health and bodily function. While this treatment can reduce the appearance of fat, it might not improve the individual’s overall health or weight unless they make other lifestyle changes.
During this study, no long-term side effects were identified. Patients only exhibited minor short-term reactions, such as pain and swelling at the site of the procedure. In this particular study, only one patient experienced “paradoxical adipose hyperplasia,” which is an uncommon reaction that results in the formation of more fat cells following cryolipolysis. More research is needed to determine whether or not massage immediately following the procedure improves the efficacy, but a study conducted in 2014 indicated that post-treatment massage cause an increased reduction in fat two months after the treatment but no significant difference four months later.
Overall, CoolSculpting® is a relatively low-risk cosmetic procedure that has demonstrated positive outcomes in reducing fat cells in targeted areas for the majority of patients. Its effectiveness is increased when patients make lifestyle changes aimed at maintaining a healthy weight. While this is not a miracle cure, it is a scientifically-proven and FDA-approved way to reduce the number and appearance of fat cells in stubborn areas and to tone a specific part of the body that diet and exercise cannot. Some individuals might experience more severe side effects, and some might have fewer visible changes in their body, but CoolSculpting® has generally been shown to safely and effectively reduce fat cells in the majority of people by about twenty to twenty-five percent in the treated areas.
Losing Fat Versus Losing Weight
Although losing fat and losing weight may sound the same in concept, but in execution, they can be quite different, especially when it comes to body shape. Because the number of fat cells is determined in childhood, exercise, and dieting as an adult can have little change in the appearance and location of body fat. Furthermore, even targeted exercises often cannot really sculpt certain areas of the body with enough precision to change your genetic predisposition to carry fat in a specific place.
Losing weight and losing fat are very different. Losing pounds from lost muscle can actually cause people to gain more fat in the long run because it leads to a decrease in metabolism. When losing weight, in order to be healthy and to look toned, it is important to focus on losing fat rather than just shedding pounds. CoolSculpting® reduces fat cells, meaning that it can improve the body fat composition ratio and reduce weight in a good way when coupled with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
When considering a fat reduction procedure such a CoolSculpting®, it is important to think about improving your overall lifestyle in order to maintain the visible and health effects of fat loss. While this treatment will not necessarily directly improve overall health or well-being, it is a great supplemental treatment to add to a good diet and exercise regimen for those having trouble with stubborn areas of fat. When it comes to weight loss, losing fat should be the ultimate goal, and CoolSculpting® can have a positive effect on those struggling to lose fat from particular areas.
CoolSculpting® Versus Liposuction
Both CoolSculpting® and liposuction are procedures intended to reduce body fat in targeted areas permanently. Although they have the same intended result, they are vastly different in execution.
First of all, liposuction is invasive, while CoolSculpting® is not. Liposuction is a surgical procedure that necessitates anesthesia, incisions, and stitches. During liposuction, a plastic surgeon will vacuum fat from particular parts of the body by making an incision and inserting a cannula, which is a long suction tool. Up to eleven pounds (or five liters) of fat can be removed safely in a liposuction procedure. This surgery can take between one and two hours depending upon the size of the area, and it is usually an outpatient procedure that allows the patient to return home the same day. Additionally, liposuction recovery time can take up to a few days, and strenuous activity may be limited for two to four weeks. Swelling might last months, meaning it could take that long until you can see the results.
CoolSculpting®, on the other hand, is completely non-invasive, and the session only takes about thirty-five minutes to one hour. Using a cold applicator, it can eliminate up to twenty-five percent of the fat in a specific area of the body. Because there is no surgery involved, the patient can typically return to normal activity immediately after the procedure. Unlike liposuction, which is a one-and-done fat reduction surgery, CoolSculpting® may require multiple treatments for optimum results. While most patients will not see the full results until a few months after their final CoolSculpting® session, initial results will be visible within a few weeks of the first session.
Because liposuction is an invasive surgery, the side effects can be severe, including bad reactions to the anesthesia, blood clots, or other serious complications. People with blood clotting disorders, heart problems, and pregnant women are advised to avoid liposuction. In contrast, CoolSculpting® results in minor side effects--if any--like bruising, tenderness, or aches because it is completely non-invasive. CoolSculpting® is safe for most people, but those with specific blood disorders should avoid it because the procedure might trigger a serious reaction.
In the end, the final results of liposuction and CoolSculpting® are quite similar: both remove fat permanently from targeted parts of the body, like the stomach, thighs, arms, or chin. Both procedures effectively decrease a patient’s body fat, but neither can improve loose skin or the appearance of cellulite, nor are they intended as a means of weight loss. A full CoolSculpting® treatment can cost between $2,000 and $4,000 depending on the size of the area treated and the patient’s geographic location, whereas liposuction typically costs around $3,500. Both treatments are considered cosmetic, so it is unlikely that insurance will cover them. All in all, both CoolSculpting® and Liposuction are viable fat reduction procedures for most people, but CoolSculpting® is non-invasive, requires less recovery time, and carries fewer potential risks and side effects.
How Was CoolSculpting® Developed?
CoolSculpting® is a modern medical development created by two doctors at the Harvard School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Rox Anderson and Dr. Dieter Manstein. These two doctors noticed that children who ate popsicles frequently often developed cheek dimples, which, after further study, the doctors discovered to be a result of the inflammation of fatty cells in their mouths. It was this phenomenon, which is termed “popsicle panniculitis,” which led to the creation of fat freezing or cryolipolysis--now called CoolSculpting®.
Dr. Anderson and Dr. Manstein realized that fat cells were much more reactive to cold than skin, tissue, nerves, or muscles. They hypothesized that the application of extremely cold temperatures to areas of fat could cause fat loss. Through testing, the two doctors found a precise temperature (between thirty and forty degrees Fahrenheit) at which fat destruction was maximized while leaving surrounding tissue unharmed. They reported their initial clinical success with cryolipolysis treatment on patients’ love handles in 2009, and that same year, they started the process to receive FDA approval. The following year, the use of cryolipolysis was approved by the FDA as a non-invasive fat loss treatment for love handles. In 2012, the FDA extended the use of CoolSculpting® to other trouble-areas of fat, including the stomach, chin, arms, thighs, and buttocks. Now, CoolSculpting® is a worldwide treatment that has helped millions of people worldwide to reduce stubborn pockets of fat in various parts of their bodies.
Long-Term Results of CoolSculpting®
In order to see optimum results from CoolSculpting®, most people will need multiple treatments. More treatments equal to more results. The results are not extreme and are not a solution for obesity of severe weight or health issues, but CoolSculpting® will provide mild improvements for people looking to sculpt specific areas and reduce fat cells. The results differ for different individuals depending on their age, skin quality, and tissue elasticity. Fat reduction is not equivalent to weight loss, and fat does not weigh nearly as much as muscle, so the twenty percent of fat lost from a targeted area may not make a significant difference in the number on your scale. However, when you lose weight in critical trouble areas--like the muffin tops sticking out over your jeans or the rolls overflowing from your bra--it can make a big difference. CoolSculpting® can help patients to allocate better or balance their weight and potentially go down one or two clothing sizes.
CoolSculpting® is a permanent fat reduction solution. Once cryolipolysis has frozen the targeted fat cells and the body has disposed of them, they are gone forever. However, it is important to note that weight management is an important factor in maintaining the lasting improvements to your appearance after CoolSculpting®. If you gain weight after treatment, the weight will go somewhere. Without a proper diet and regular physical activity, you may not see the same positive outcome in the long term.
What if I Gain Weight After CoolSculpting®?
While CoolSculpting® does permanently destroy fat cells, it is still possible to gain weight after a CoolSculpting® treatment if you have a poor diet or a lack of physical activity. This weight will often be distributed throughout the body and will not target the area where you had the CoolSculpting® procedure; however, while the fat cells in the treated spot are permanently reduced after treatment, the other remaining fat cells can still expand in that area and cause a return of the unwanted bulge. There are no special diets or exercise plans required after the procedure, but maintaining a healthy diet and an active lifestyle will help you to stay healthy and to maintain the toned appearance that CoolSculpting® helps you to achieve.
Because this is a fat reduction procedure rather than a weight loss program, it can help you to tone areas that diet and exercise do not seem to affect. However, if you continue with unhealthy habits, your fat cells will continue to expand, and you may not enjoy the results of your CoolSculpting® in the long term. It is important to focus on a healthy lifestyle, and a CoolSculpting® procedure can supplement your efforts by helping you to target problem fat pockets.
How Many CoolSculpting® Treatments Will I Need to See Results?
You can get CoolSculpting® on many parts of the body that carry stubborn, unwanted fat. In the United States, the FDA has approved CoolSculpting® as a treatment for the thighs, flanks, upper arm, under the chin or jawline, back fat under the bra area, or under the buttocks. The number of treatments needed for best results varies depending on the part of the body as well as the individual’s age, weight, skin elasticity, and other factors. In order to determine how many sessions you will need, you will make a personalized treatment plan with your doctor based on your personal objectives. Each session will last somewhere between thirty-five to sixty minutes, and some clinics have multiple applicators that allow for multiple areas to be treated at once. Before you can know how many CoolSculpting® sessions, you will need to get the results you want, schedule a primary appointment with a physician so you can design the perfect treatment plan.
Why Get CoolSculpting®?
CoolSculpting® is a modern medical solution to solve the problem of unwanted body fat. It can be difficult or impossible to target and tone certain areas where you are genetically predisposed to carry weight, and because the number and distribution of fat cells are determined in childhood, you might have a very hard time getting rid of those stubborn pockets of fat. CoolSculpting® is a non-invasive, targeted cosmetic treatment that aims to help individuals reduce the appearance of unsightly fat in various areas of the body.
Because this is not a weight loss program, ideal candidates will be within twenty-five to thirty pounds of their ideal weight and under thirty percent body fat. Obese individuals cannot be considered for CoolSculpting®, and the procedure is intended for people in generally good health who are trying to get rid of excess fat that does not respond to diet and exercise. If you are looking for a non-invasive treatment that is relatively low-risk in order to sculpt and tone your body in specific areas, then CoolSculpting® may be right for you. This procedure will not damage any part of the body other than fat cells, and for most patients, it is a painless--even relaxing--procedure that creates long-term results. If you are interested in becoming a candidate for CoolSculpting®, you should speak to a doctor to discuss your options.
Find a CoolSculpting® Practitioner Near Me
At Fat Freeze Sculpting, our goal is to work with you to design a specialized CoolSculpting® treatment plan based on your needs and desired outcomes. Our experienced doctors are able to target your trouble fat areas so you can achieve a contoured, sculpted appearance. If you are in Los Angeles and you are considering a fat reduction procedure, give our Los Angeles CoolSculpting a call at 310-919-5296 to schedule a consultation so you can discuss your personal goals and the best options for you.