Is DIY CoolSculpting safe?

I've been seeing these DIY at home entire CoolSculpting -type kits for as little as $200 online, which seems like a pretty good bargain. I'm a little concerned about just how safe something like this is going to be though. Admittedly, I don't know that much about the CoolSculpting process but my instinct tells me to be careful with something of this nature. Am I being paranoid? At $200 it's awfully tempting, risks or no risks, you know? The thing I've seen for that price isn't called CoolSculpting but it's the same thing so far as i can tell. Thanks so much.


F, 39, California

CoolSculpting technology, also called "Cryolipolysis", is a fat reduction, body contouring technology which destroys fat cells using extremely cold temperatures. While that may sound like a relatively simple process, it's far more complex than just applying an ice pack to your love handles or belly fat and waiting for the bulges to melt away.

CoolSculpting machines use a combination of precise temperature controls that protect the surrounding tissue, and a suction system that carefully controls the exact amount of skin coming into contact with the cooling elements.

CoolSculpting machines are manufactured by Zeltiq and are not available for home use. There are no legitimate "home versions" or DIY CoolSculpting machines available online or anywhere else.

The devices you are referring to are cheap knock-offs. I have seen several Chinese-made imitations designed for home use, and would strongly advise against attempting to contour your own body with a machine that has no FDA approval and little to no quality control. Think about it, would you really trust a $200 machine that requires no training to reshape parts of your body?

My suspicion is that these machines don’t work to begin with, but even if they did, untrained, home use with a cheap, unapproved machine is avery bad idea. Especially when you consider that these machines destroy adipose tissue when they do their jobs correctly.

We’ve seen great results with CoolSculpting and our machines are operated by trained professionals who use the best practices and have received extensive training. Most of our patients report that the treatment is either painless or practically pain-free. If you're interested in cryolipolysis or other fat removal methods, I encourage you to contact a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist for an initial consultation.

CoolSculpting machines destroy subcutaneous fat cells by cooling the fat layer beneath the skin to very specific temperatures. These low temperatures cause cell death in fat cells while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed.

This ability to selectively destroy only the fat cells makes CoolSculpting treatment great for trimming stubborn fat like abdominal fat -- which can sometimes persist despite diet and regular exercise.

CoolSculpting is one of those technologies that seems simple but is more complex than what’s commonly understood. It's tempting to believe that simply "making the skin cold" will achieve the same effects as CoolSculpting. If that were true we could all just apply ice packs to our abdomens and achieve the same results.

Needless to say, that won't work -- and would probably give you frostbite. (Please don't try that).

CoolSculpting works by very carefully freezing the subcutaneous fat to a specific temperature of 39 to 41 degrees. The CoolSculpting device does not really "freeze fat" as the target cooling zone is well above freezing temperatures.

The CoolSculpting machine also applies suction to maximize the surface area. By carefully controlling the amount of skin that is exposed to the cold, the CoolSculpting device uniformly reduces the temperature of the fat layer to a consistent level.

I don't know what technology exists “under the hood” of these DIY CoolSculpting machines, but it seems highly unlikely that a machine for $200 or even $2000 would be either safe or effective. It’s also unlikely that a machine requiring no training whatsoever to operate is a good idea when CoolSculpting technicians must undergo hours of rigorous safety training.

If you are interested in non-invasive fat reduction and body sculpting solutions, I strongly advise you to avoid the claims of unknown manufacturers and only consult with board-certified dermatologists or plastic surgeons who use legitimate CoolSculpting equipment.

That's a great question because there are some potential safety risks involved with these systems.

CoolSculpting treatment is an FDA-approved body contouring procedure which works by lowering the temperature of the body's fat to a level that destroys the tissue. While the process is often referred to as "fat freezing", the reality is that the temperatures used are slightly higher than the freezing point.

When performed correctly by a trained medical professional, CoolSculpting works by killing fat cells, leading to visible fat loss in the days and weeks following the procedure.

CoolSculpting machines use extremely sophisticated technology to freeze fat underneath the surface of the skin to a very specific temperature while preserving the surrounding tissue and the surface layer of skin. This delicate temperature balance is important because it results in weight loss without causing frostbite at the treatment area. (Needless to say, if CoolSculpting killed skin cells on the surface along with the targeted fat layer, the results would be very dangerous).

Operation of CoolSculpting machines should only be conducted by healthcare professionals who have undergone rigorous training and who understand the correct CoolSculpting procedures.

Zeltiq, the manufacturer of CoolSculpting machines (now part of Allergan) does not manufacture machines for home use, and CoolSculpting technology is the only FDA-approved technology for cryolipolysis (destroying fat cells with cold temperatures).

I don't know exactly what these home machines do or don't do, but they are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and the potential for harm is very real if more than just body fat is destroyed. I cannot say whether these home devices are an effective treatment or not, or whether they’re capable of fat reduction and skin tightening -- or whether they freeze fat cells at all.

Given that the application of extreme cold to subdermal tissue is a potentially hazardous process, I would strongly advise avoiding any DIY so-called CoolSculpting product. Body sculpting can affect the shape and contour of your body. It's not something I would advise trying on your own.

Remember that when it comes to cosmetic treatments, you are paying for expertise, experience, safety and aesthetic sensibility. There are many excellent approaches to body sculpting and CoolSculpting is just one of them. If you're interested in permanent fat removal and improving your body contour, I suggest you contact an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss which options are best for you.

CoolSculpting represents a form of cryolipolysis, a process of freezing fat cells to kill them in a systematic manner. While there are diverse brands and DIY products offering cryolipolysis to consumers,CoolSculpting is the only FDA approved cryolipolysis treatment available in the United States.

FDA approval requires the product in question to have undergone rigorous testing, and guarantees consumers that the treatment has been proven to be effective for the indication described. Coolsculpting is safe and it utilizes a patented technology to deliver proven results.

The CoolSculpting machine operates at a controlled temperature that specifically targets fat cells, leaving the surrounding skin and tissue unharmed. The device uses paddles and a vacuum technique to pull fat to the surface. DIY cryolipolysis products don’t offer this same level of control.

Zeltiq, the company that developed CoolSculpting, also requires its practitioners to be certified through their training program before they are able to administer treatment. This means you are paying for the anatomical and aesthetic knowledge and expertise of the professional providing you with treatment as well as the CoolSculpting treatment itself.

A specialized practitioner can help ensure you get the best possible results for your investment by using the CoolSculpting device to precisely target and sculpt problem areas by placing the applicator in strategic areas. CoolSculpting is highly effective with more than 70% of patients reporting to be very satisfied with their results. DIY devices cannot guarantee this level of precision or positive outcome.

When dealing with your body, health and wellbeing, it’s highly advised to avoid taking chances with home kits that are untested and unproven. If you are considering trying any DIY cryolipolysis treatment, you need to be extra cautious and question the safety and efficacy of the product in question.

Although CoolSculpting may require more financial investment than a DIY self-administered cryolipolysis treatment, ultimately it’s worth it as you have an increased chance of receiving the results and outcome you desire.

Dr. Landon Pryor has 2 CoolSculpting before & afters:

CoolSculpting before image performed by  Landon PryorCoolSculpting after image performed by  Landon PryorCoolSculpting before image performed by Dr. Landon PryorCoolSculpting after image performed by Dr. Landon Pryor

» View Dr. Landon Pryor's full profile

CoolSculpting has grown in popularity as patients report high levels of satisfaction in the eradication of fat deposits. But it can be a costly procedure, particularly if you require more than one treatment, which is often the case.

In recent years, at home DIY treatments (such as ‘Lipo Belts’) have been developed that claim to work like CoolSculpting but for a fraction of the price. However, as is the case with most DIY at home aesthetic or cosmetic treatments, there are a range of issues that you should be cognizant of prior to purchase.

CoolSculpting has been approved by the FDA for the eradication of fat in areas such as the inner thighs, abdomen, flanks, upper arms, and under the chin. This means that it’s been tested for patient safety and to verify that it does in fact eliminate fat.

DIY fat freezing treatment systems may claim to operate using the same principles as CoolSculpting, however, they are not classified as medical devices and therefore not required to have FDA approval. No DIY cryolipolysis devices at present have FDA clearance, which means there is no medical evidence that these devices work.

Furthermore, DIY at home treatments do carry a certain level of risk. CoolSculpting requires the treatment to be administered by a trained professional. DIY treatments, however, do not have this safety guarantee. Many DIY treatments operate on the simplified premise that fat cells are reduced by freezing them. CoolSculpting, however, uses a precise form of technology and application device to safely freeze fat cells while leaving the skin and surrounding tissue unharmed.

The machine works at a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature at which fat cells freeze. Most patients report that the treatment is either painless or causes them very little discomfort. In the case of certain DIY treatments, however, the technology is not as sophisticated so at best you may end up with very cold skin, and at worst burns from freezing.

In addition, it is very difficult for at-home cryolipolysis treatments to reach the level of efficacy of treatment delivered in a clinic by a professional. While DIY treatments are appealing because they seem more cost effective, your aesthetic objectives may be compromised by less than satisfactory results.

I can't say what these DIY machines do or don't do, but they are not CoolSculpting machines. CoolSculpting is a technology available only from Allergan and is the only FDA-approved treatment for cryolipolysis of subcutaneous fat.

CoolSculpting body contouring works by destroying underlying fat tissue without causing skin damage.

CoolSculpting technology is built around the concept of fat cell apoptosis or cell death, which occurs at a very specific temperature range of 39 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Skin cells and the surrounding tissue only experience cell death at lower temperatures so they survive the CoolSculpting procedure.

CoolSculpting must be administered by trained medical professionals who receive extensive training in order to perform the treatment safely.

While I'm not sure how well DIY fat freezing works, it sounds like a recipe for either self-administered frostbite, or no results at all. I can't make any specific criticisms of the technology as I’m unfamiliar with it, but I have serious doubts that a $200 machine purchased online represents a realistic alternative to CoolSculpting technology. And I’m not sure that DIY devices which require no training and ostensibly accelerate cell death are a good idea.

We have achieved excellent fat reduction results with CoolSculpting and our patients have been very happy with the procedure. If you're interested in fat removal options and body contouring I encourage you to consult with a board-certified dermatologist who only uses FDA-approved procedures.

Lawrence Broder has 1 CoolSculpting before & after:

CoolSculpting before image performed by Dr. Lawrence BroderCoolSculpting after image performed by Dr. Lawrence Broder

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Be very careful with throwing your money away. I wouldn't recommend any fat removal treatment that sells for $200.