CoolSculpting: All You Need To Know About This Fat Reduction Technique


In a world where people are struggling with fat reduction, one of the most recent and effective methods for that is CoolSculpting.

What is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting, or cryolipolysis, is a non-invasive, nonsurgical body contouring procedure. The procedure of CoolSculpting involves a cosmetic surgeon freezing fat cells under the skin by using a specific tool. The frozen fat cells are removed from the body by the liver upon their destruction. 

How long does a CoolSculpting session last?

Most CoolSculpting sessions take around an hour for completion. 

How much does a CoolSculpting session cost?

A standard CoolScultping session costs about $1,000 per treatment area.

As far as fat reduction techniques go, CoolSculpting is fairly new. It was only approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the year 2012.

Zeltiq Aesthetics holds the registered trademarks of CoolSculpting and cryolipolysis.

While the amount of independent clinical research studies backing the procedure remains relatively small, Zeltiq Aesthetics claim that CoolSculpting lowers the amount of fat cells in the treatment area in the range of 20 to 25 percent.

How long does it take for CoolSculpting results to show?

Most people start to notice the effects a few days after the procedure, but it often takes 1 to 4 months for the full results to show.

What are the risks associated with CoolSculpting?

Although research is still limited, CoolSculpting is usually viewed as a safer, non-invasive sort of fat reduction surgery than traditional procedures, like liposuction.

Most people don’t feel anything during the procedure, apart from a tugging sensation where the skin is between the device’s two cooling panels.

As the procedure doesn’t involve any cutting, tissue manipulation, or anesthesia, most of the people don’t need any recovery time and may immediately resume normal activities.

The only noticeable side effects of the procedure tend to be minor and occur only surrounding the area of treatment. Most minor side effects reduce or go away within a few days to weeks after the procedure. It is normal, however, to experience numbness or loss of sensation in the treatment area for around a month. A person may still experience these side effects for a couple of weeks after the procedure.

Some side effects which people face immediately after the procedure are:

  • numbness
  • skin sensitivity
  • mild to moderate pain
  • muscle cramping
  • pinching sensation
  • minor swelling
  • tenderness
  • redness
  • firmness
  • bruising
  • stinging
  • tingling

There are some other common side effects experienced by a person during the first few weeks after a CoolSculpting procedure. Some of them are:

  • itchiness, especially a few days after the procedure
  • diarrhea, as dead fat cells are removed from the body
  • a feeling of fullness in the throat after treatments involving the neck or chin region.

The skill and style of the cosmetic surgeon performing the procedure also determines the extent of the risks and side effects. 

People should do a thorough background check, speak to previous patients and only then should they settle on an experienced, trusted professional, like a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. Individuals can do this by researching local options and asking questions before committing to the procedure.

Keep in mind, CoolSculpting as a fat reduction process is relatively new, and the full extent of risks, side effects, and complications associated with the procedure is still unknown.

In 2017, a study reviewed all the available research papers on CoolSculpt from two major medical databases. However, only 319 studies linked to the terms cool sculpting, cryolipolysis, fat freezing, and lipocryolysis were found. As it is relatively new, few medical professionals are aware of the procedure or have much experience with it CoolSculpting is also only approved and proven effective on a limited number of body areas.

These are the areas of the body where CoolSculpting is considered to be a safe form of fat reduction procedure: 

  • flanks
  • under the armpit
  • back
  • buttocks and under the buttocks
  • abdomen
  • thighs
  • under the chin or upper neck

CoolSculpting is considered a safe and effective fat reduction method in these areas thanks to the fact that it reduces the amount of fat cells in a small area.

Who should consider avoiding CoolSculpting?

It is not considered a form of weight loss and not recommended for the treatment of obesity. The procedure is meant to assist dissolve stubborn fat cells that sometimes only shrink through diet and exercise. People with weakened immune systems are not ideal candidates for surgeries such as CoolSculpting. People with certain conditions that weaken or change the body’s ability to handle the cold also can experience serious medical complications.

Conditions that rule out the use of CoolSculpting include:

  • pregnancy, attempting to become pregnant, and breast-feeding
  • bleeding conditions that thin the blood
  • history of a hernia or a hernia in or near the treatment area
  • active, implanted medical devices, such as pacemakers
  • allergy to propylene glycol or isopropyl alcohol
  • chronic pain conditions
  • severe anxiety disorders
  • a disorder called cryoglobulinemia, where there is an abnormally high concentration of proteins that usually only increase in response to cold.
  • cold agglutinin disease, an autoimmune condition where temperature change kills red blood cells
  • paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria, a condition where red blood cells die in response to temperature change
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • chilblains
  • reduced circulation or skin sensation at the treatment area
  • nerve conditions, such as diabetic neuropathy
  • skin conditions related to the immune system, such as eczema and psoriasis
  • inflammatory skin conditions, such as dermatitis and hives
  • a recent injury to the skin area being treated, including scar tissue
  • long-term use of blood thinning medications
  • history of a hernia or a hernia in or near the treatment area

In some very rare cases, fat cells respond to CoolSculpting by enlarging rather than dying. This condition is called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). A 2014 study reported the incidence of PAH with CoolSculpting is currently thought to be around 0.0051 percent.

Researchers are not sure why PAH occurs, but most people who develop the condition are men. While PAH does not cause any symptoms aside from changing physical appearance, its effects can only be reversed through surgery.

Additional rare complications that may occur after CoolSculpting include:

  • pain that starts several days after the treatment and usually resolves when numbness goes away, or after about a month
  • reduced movement or response of the tongue following procedures involving the neck or chin
  • lower lip muscle weakness following procedures involving the neck or chin
  • dizziness, light-headedness, sweating, painting, nausea, and flushing
  • hyperpigmentation, or dark skin coloration that often resolves on its own
  • subcutaneous induration, a generalized hardness or specific hard nodules that develop in the treated area and can be painful
  • abrupt and undesirable changes in fat layering.

What are some of the benefits of CoolSculpting?

These are some of the benefits of CoolSculpting:

  • It is a low-risk procedure for most people.
  • The skin barrier is not broken or compromised, removing most of the risk of complications, such as infection and scarring.
  • There are few reported adverse reactions or outcomes.
  • There is no need to take time off from work or everyday activities afterward.
  • The results look natural, as they develop gradually in the weeks following the surgery.
  • It can help people that have lost weight or at a healthy weight but still have excess fat especially areas.
  • There is less risk of regaining weight and results are long-lasting because fat cells are literally destroyed and faraway from the body.
  • The risk of skin dimpling or bumps is low because fat cells are destroyed evenly across a patch of skin.
  • Overall, the procedure can help boost self-confidence, especially when combined with weight loss achieved through healthy diet and exercise.

There is not much independent research on CoolSculpting at present.

One benefit of CoolSculpting is that, unlike with diet and exercise, fat cells are actually destroyed and removed from the body. This means the same fat cells cannot return or enlarge with weight gain.

CoolSculpting: The Conclusion

There is not much independent research on CoolSculpting at present. The pre-existing research suggests that CoolSculpting is a low-risk option as far as removing small amounts of fat is concerned. It’s  especially useful when that fat proves difficult to eliminate through fat and exercise.

People who are interested in this form of treatment should discuss it first with their doctor. They can help decide whether it is the right option, or if there are more suitable ways for removing unwanted fat.

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