Does CoolSculpting work well for love handles?

A colleague had a few fat-freezing sessions, and she can't stop talking about this procedure. When it comes to removing unwanted body fat, I'm usually a traditionalist. I consider harsh techniques to be the most efficient, and I'm very skeptical about these new alternatives. But Karen insisted so much that I started considering CoolSculpting for my flanks. I hope it won't be a total disappointment.


F, 39, North Dakota

CoolSculpting is a non-surgical fat reduction technique that has been approved by the FDA for use on multiple areas including the flanks, abdomen, thighs, chin, bra line, beneath the buttocks, and chin. CoolSculpting has quickly become the most popular fat reduction treatment because it is safe, effective, and has minimal downtime. Patients note a 25% reduction in the targeted problem area following treatment, and most do not suffer any adverse side effects as a result of treatment, although some patients notice a little tenderness or swelling following the procedure.

The procedure uses cryolipolysis, or fat freezing technology, to eliminate fat cells from the body. Fat cells are more susceptible to damage by freezing and die as a result of prolonged exposure to very cold temperature, reducing the number of fat cells in the treated area. This happens gradually over several weeks so the body is not overwhelmed with dead fat cells. It takes four months on average for final results to become apparent. Results are generally subtle, rather than dramatic. CoolSculpting cannot achieve the same outcome as liposuction.

Many patients choose to undergo CoolSculpting at a med spa during their lunch break, then return to work. If you are healthy, close to your ideal weight, fit, and are troubled by stubborn fat that persists around your flanks, then it is likely that you would be an excellent candidate for CoolSculpting.

CoolSculpting has delighted aesthetic consumers around the world, with one clinical study reporting that 86% of clients saw an improvement following treatment and 76% of study participants stating that they were satisfied with their results.

While you are right that traditional plastic surgery techniques such as liposuction are capable of achieving more dramatic results, CoolSculpting can achieve up to a 25% fat reduction in the treated area. It is ideal for clients who are close to or at their ideal weight and are looking for some extra help eliminating stubborn fat that cannot be shifted by weight loss or exercise. It also boasts the advantage of no downtime: patients can return to everyday activities immediately following treatment.

CoolSculpting has proven to be safe and successful in contouring the flanks, also colloquially referred to as the muffin top. Your results will depend on how much excess fat you have in this area; the CoolSculpting procedure is most effective at removing small to moderate fat depositions.


Some patients require multiple treatments to achieve optimal results. I would recommend that you consider scheduling an appointment with a certified plastic surgeon or CoolSculpting provider to determine if this non-invasive treatment, or another procedure, could address your aesthetic goals.

CoolSculpting is an extremely popular non-invasive procedure. Increasing numbers of patients today are looking for effective body-contouring treatments with minimal pain and downtime, and CoolSculpting fits this criteria. The procedure can be performed in as little as two hours in your surgeon's office and causes so little discomfort that patients can return to work, exercise, and everyday life immediately after treatment.

Most importantly, CoolSculpting guarantees results that you can see: patients, on average, see a reduction of 20-25% in the love handles following treatment. Some patients need only one CoolSculpting session, while others benefit from two sessions to achieve their desired result.

One issue you do need to be aware of, however, is that results are not immediate; the freezing technology destroys fat cells, but the body takes time to expel the cells naturally. In general, results will only start to become apparent after two to three weeks, and final results may take up to six months to be fully evident. If you feel that a CoolSculpting treatment may be right for you, find a certified CoolSculpting provider to discuss your options.

In my practice I have the following fat reduction techniques:

  1. Diet and exercise
  2. Sculpsure
  3. Coolsculpting
  4. Kybella(injectable)
  5. Liposuction

By far the most efficient and cost effective is liposuction. I have also personally experienced all of these. 

The problem with the non invasive techniques is that the results are not consistent. Some people will get good results and some may not see any results; and you cannot predict ahead of time. They also require about three treatments to get the same results as one session of liposuction. Coolsculpting also has a "rare" complication of adding fat to the area treated. It is called paradoxical fat hyperplasia.

It is not unreasonable to try the noninvasive technique and see how it works for you but don't expect the same results as with liposuction.

John Stratis has 2 CoolSculpting before & afters:

CoolSculpting before image performed by Dr. John StratisCoolSculpting after image performed by Dr. John StratisCoolSculpting before image performed by Dr. John StratisCoolSculpting after image performed by Dr. John Stratis

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Buyer beware. Coolsculpting is less effective that surgery, of course. I do believe that Coolsculpting is a reasonable starting point for the right patient. My advice is to see the counsel of a plastic surgeon who offers both, and therefore unbiased, to tell you if her or she thinks you are a good candidate for one versus the other.