Coolsculpting – Can You Really Remove Fat Without Surgery?
One of the most common questions I’ve been asked by patients recently is “What do you think about Cool Sculpting?” Well, here it is.
In case you haven’t heard of it, Coolsculpting is a non-invasive technology that uses cold to freeze fat cells that then undergo a natural cell death over the 3 days following the procedure. Since fat cells are more sensitive to cold injury than skin, muscle, and nerves, the surrounding tissue is relatively unaffected by the treatment. The body gradually breaks down the dead fat cells and gets rid of the processed fat through our intestinal tract (yep, we poop it out). T
his process occurs over a period of about 3 months. In most patients, about 20-25% of the fat is lost with each treatment and it can be repeated as needed to achieve the desired amount of fat reduction. Most patients will have two treatments per area they’re trying to sculpt done at least 1 month apart.
Specifically, patients are wondering….
- Does it really work? – Yes, it really works.
- Does it hurt? – Yes and no. The treatment itself is really not bad at all (I know from personal experience). There’s mild discomfort for a couple minutes then just a gentle pulling sensation on the area from the vacuum of the treatment applicator. Once the cooling is done, the research shows that a patient will have 67% more fat die if they have a 2 minute vigorous massage of the area immediately after the applicator is removed. That part is no fun, but to lose 67% more fat I say I can tolerate anything for 2 minutes! Afterwards the area is tender for a few days with some areas of the body being more sensitive than others.
- Is there down time? – Not really. Most patients don’t need to take any time off work. There are no exercise restrictions, though for the first few days the treated area may be sore enough that a vigorous workout may not be particularly comfortable. There can be some swelling and bruising, so don’t do it right before a trip to the beach or an event where you have to look your best in a fitted dress.
- Do you have to wear a garment? – Nope
- Will the fat just go to another area? – No. It’s excreted from the body. Keep in mind, though, if after treatment you consume more calories than your body needs, Cool Sculpting (or liposuction for that matter) won’t keep you from gaining weight – your body will find somewhere to put it!
- How much does it cost? – This is a difficult question to answer without an exam, since the pricing is dependent on how many “cycles” a patient needs and this can vary quite a bit based on the size and shape of the patient. A cycle refers to how many times the treatment applicator is applied to the patient’s body. As an example, treatment of an abdomen may require anywhere between 2 and 6 cycles. Generally speaking, don’t expect Cool Sculpting to be less expensive than liposuction.
So, if Coolsculpting is effective and doesn’t require surgery, it’s going to make liposuction a thing of the past and eliminate the need for tummy tucks, right? Not so fast. Like liposuction, Cool Sculpting needs the overlying skin to have good elasticity so it can shrink to the new size once there’s less fat. If an area has loose skin, it may be better to opt for a surgical procedure that removes skin and fat, like a tummy tuck. For some patients who have concerns regarding a lot of areas (for example, abdomen, hips, inner thighs, and outer thighs), it may be quicker and more cost effective to just go with liposuction. Finally, for Coolsculpting to have a nice result, the area of fat needs to be well-matched with the shape of one of the 5 available treatment applicators. If a patient has an area of fat that doesn’t quite fit the shape of an applicator, they may not be a good candidate for the procedure and liposuction would be better.
The Bottom Line:
Coolsculpting is a fantastic, non-surgical option for people who are interested in reducing the amount of fat they have in a problem area (who isn’t???). It will replace liposuction for some patients and is an option for other patients who would never have considered surgery in the first place. I’m so convinced, I bought it for my practice and I was the first patient I treated with it!
If you are interested in scheduling your consultation with Dr. Peters, please call us at 708-524-1400 or fill out our contact form today.