Is CoolSculpting actually effective?

I’m seeing mixed reviews on the effectiveness of CoolSculpting. Obviously most people, including me, would prefer a non-invasive procedure, especially if the results are the same as something like liposuction. I’m just concerned that CoolSculpting won’t last that long, and I’ll end up spending as much (if not more) time and money on several CoolSculpting sessions as I would if I just got lipo.

AshleyTayl

F, 37, North Dakota

There is no plastic surgery to help with weight loss, but there is now a range of fat removal treatments to eliminate stubborn fat from patients who are at or close to their ideal weight. CoolSculpting represents one of the most popular non-invasive alternatives and has remarkably high rates of patient satisfaction (one study cited 73% of patients as satisfied with the results of their treatment).

Cooling panels are applied to the treatment area, with fat gently suctioned into the device. While other cells remain unharmed, excess fat cells are destroyed by the cold temperature delivered by the CoolSculpting machine, and over a period of several months, dead fat cells are naturally metabolized and released from the body as waste.

Patients rarely experience serious side effects, and at worst, some experience mild tenderness during the treatment or slight redness or swelling. The vast majority of patients require no downtime following the CoolSculpting procedure and are able to return to work and resume everyday activities immediately.

However, CoolSculpting cannot achieve the same results as tumescent liposuction. Liposuction can remove up to five liters of fat during an outpatient procedure, with the plastic surgeon able to control where the fat is removed with precision. Results will be visible more quickly as well, with most patients able to enjoy their final results one to three months after surgery, as soon as swelling has subsided.

In truth, it depends how one defines effective. If you are looking for a non-invasive method of shifting small, stubborn deposits of fat with no downtime, then CoolSculpting can achieve this. However, results are unpredictable and it can take up to four months before the final outcome becomes visible. Most importantly, the results are subtle rather than dramatic. The results of a CoolSculpting treatment are permanent, as fat cells are destroyed by the fat freezing process, but the greatest percentage of fat reduction you can expect to see in the treated area is 20-25%.

If you are looking for a more dramatic body contouring procedure, liposuction is unparalleled and can provide more reliable and impressive results. Although it is an invasive surgery and requires anesthesia, patients usually only require one session, with a recovery time lasting several days on average. The price is comparable to CoolSculpting, and both procedures take between one and two hours to perform. Most plastic surgeons would be unanimous in their agreement that liposuction offers more dramatic post-operative results.

Hi, Coolsculpting (Zeltiq) is effective at removing smaller amounts of fat but is limited in the amount of fat that can be removed at any one time and in the specificity of the results (basically how quickly and reliably can the fat be removed). Liposuction, for these reasons remains the "gold standard" procedure for fat reduction.

Hope this helps.

I believe you have pegged it! The non invasive fat reduction procedures like CoolSculpting and SculpSure do work BUT they are not consistent in their results, take much longer to obtain the desired result and most often end up costing more for the final result than liposuction. 

I say all this as a Plastic Surgeon who has both devices and also performs liposuction. I have also had both procedures and they do work. What most people don't realize is that liposuction is minimally invasive and has no MEDICAL downtime, i.e. you are allowed to do anything you want afterwards based solely on your discomfort level.

Dr. 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

» View Dr. John Stratis's full profile

CoolSculpting  is effective in illuminating small amounts of fat on specific areas. But, you cannot compare it to liposuction. Lipo is a much more effective and long-lasting treatment.  You have to look at this and what your goals really are.  If you can afford to have it all done and you're ready to undergo a procedure then Liposuction is the better option.  If you want to  just want to spend a couple hours in the chair treat a small specific area, get up, and go to  right back to work, get coolsculpting.  Probably the best advice I can give you is never get coolsculpting from someone who cannot also offer you liposuction.   In that situation you are not likely to be given a fair choice  on what is best for your particular needs. 

I no longer offer Coolsculpting for that reason. I think it helps in some areas for the right patients. Liposuction is a superior treatment. It is close in price and it does hurt a bit more but the results speak for themselves. For patients with excess skin, tummy tuck can help too. If you do not want that scar, then ask about BodyTite. It's an awesome brand new (to the US) technology that works to tighten the skin from the underside with heat. Few of us board certified plastic surgeons offer it now but it's going to be the new thing soon. Hope this helps!