For a long time, liposuction was the only way to reduce stubborn fat. While it is an effective procedure to eliminate fat, its invasiveness and risk of complications (which come with any surgery) can put people off. Even for those who will go to such lengths, the long recovery time required can be a barrier.
Luckily, there are now non-invasive alternatives to liposuction, and the most popular procedure on the market today is CoolSculpting®.
Cryolipolysis: What Is “Fat Freezing”?
You may have heard of CoolSculpting® treatment and wondered how the process works. CoolSculpting® uses cryolipolysis, or “fat freezing”, to reduce fat cells.
Cryolipolysis has been scientifically proven to reduce fat that persists despite changes in exercise and diet routines. CoolSculpting® can provide natural-looking, long-term results in areas like the abdomen, love handles, thighs, double chin, upper arms, back, and more.
The Differences Between the Procedures
CoolSculpting® has some things in common with liposuction, mainly that both procedures remove fat cells from the body. The most significant difference is that CoolSculpting® utilizes natural metabolic processes to eliminate dead fat cells from the body, while liposuction surgically removes them.
The specifics depend on the site of treatment, but in all cases, liposuction starts with multiple incisions, requiring anesthesia. The cannula, a sharp tube, is snaked through the incisions and into the fatty tissue. The cannula is used to both break up the fat and remove it from the body. The surgery typically takes two or three hours, but expect to spend at least seven hours on-site for surgical preparation and postoperative recovery. There will be a delay before you can return to daily activities. A second surgical procedure may also be necessary to remove sagging skin.
CoolSculpting® is sometimes called “lunchtime lipo,” since the procedure can be completed in as little as 35 minutes, and you can return to daily activities immediately.
What Does the CoolSculpting® Procedure Look Like?
During CoolSculpting®, an applicator is used to isolate fat deposits and expose them to precisely controlled temperatures, which are cold enough to freeze subcutaneous fat cells but will not damage any skin cells or tissue. The “frozen” fat cells will then crystallize, which causes the cell membrane to rupture. Your body then eliminates the dead cells as waste. Because the elimination of dead fat cells is a natural process, the skin will naturally retract without the need for a surgical procedure.
Is CoolSculpting® the Right Procedure for Me?
These dramatic, long-term results sound tempting, but it’s important to remember that CoolSculpting® isn’t for everyone. This procedure is a good option for fat reduction in isolated areas on people who live active and healthy lifestyles. CoolSculpting® is not a weight-loss procedure and is not recommended as a solution for people who are significantly overweight. There are some major differences between CoolSculpting® and liposuction.
The Cost of Liposuction vs. CoolSculpting®
The cost of liposuction tends to be more than three times that of CoolSculpting®. The cost of liposuction includes the surgical procedure, the anesthesia, and the use of a medical facility. CoolSculpting® prices are impacted by the site of treatment, the specific applicators used, and the total number of sessions necessary for optimal results.
CoolSculpting® Vs. Liposuction Recovery
CoolSculpting® is non-invasive and requires no additional time devoted to bed-rest or recovery. Liposuction is more involved. Patients must restrict activities and wear a compression garment for at least six weeks after the procedure. It often takes months for the bruising and swelling following liposuction treatment to subside before the results are visible.
CoolSculpting® Vs. Liposuction Results
Because of its invasive nature, the fat reduction results of liposuction tend to be more dramatic than those of CoolSculpting®. Still, CoolSculpting® has received positive reviews. Many CoolSculpting® before and after pictures show impressive results. Scientific research has shown that CoolSculpting® is capable of reducing subcutaneous fat at the treated site by up to 25% in a single procedure. Results will vary, but “improvements were seen in 86% of treated subjects.”
After Your CoolSculpting® Session
Your body’s immune system gradually disposes of the frozen fat cells, meaning that you should not expect immediate results from fat freezing. Initial results can be seen in about three weeks. Typically, a patient requires eight to 12 weeks to see the final results of their treatment.