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10 Things You Should Know About CoolSculpting

Get the skinny on how it works, what you can expect, and put your mind at ease about the freeze.

Liposuction, laser lipolysis, mesotherapy, deoxycholic acid injections, and numerous other types of fat reduction treatments seem to be everywhere. Yet, in a world of false promises, ever-changing medical advancement, and misinformation, it can be hard to tell which treatment is right for you. Yet, among all these options, one stands out as superior. CoolSculpting, the non-invasive procedure that reduces fat by using controlled cooling, has become an ultra-popular alternative for people seeking fat reduction, with over 6 million treatments having been done worldwide since its creation. It has been outperforming the competition, and with its success, it’s easy to wonder what all the fuss is about. Here are the top 10 things you should know about CoolSculpting:

1) It is a safe, precise, and scientifically proven technique.  CoolSculpting has a truly unique backstory, with its development taking place at Harvard. Scientists at the university studied cryolipolysis and discovered that subcutaneous fat could be killed by freezing a targeted area in a controlled fashion. These researchers then realized that this procedure would specifically target only fat cells without damaging the skin or any surrounding tissue and thus, CoolSculpting was born. Since its creation, CoolSculpting has become a reliable way to target almost any unwanted pinchable fat present on the body and is even FDA-cleared in the U.S. to treat the submental area, thighs, abdomen, flanks, back fat, upper arms, and under the buttocks (banana roll). In addition, clinical trials have found that the procedure is safe for all skin types and doesn’t alter pigmentation in any way[i]. CoolSculpting can be used to target a variety of areas, making it a truly customizable experience and its proven safety and science-backed technology can grant you a sense of security when opting for this procedure. 

2) The fat actually does go away. Here’s how: CoolSculpting successfully targets pinchable fat, as the procedure creates natural fat cell death, or apoptosis. This was discovered during clinical observations of cold-induced panniculitis, and thus by cooling fat cells to a precise temperature, these cells can be eliminated without harming surrounding tissue[ii].The lipids in fat cells crystalize at a greater speed than water in other types of cells and are naturally transported by the lymphatic system, are metabolized, then are gradually eliminated through your body’s immune system. The elimination of these fat cells leaves patients with a more sculpted physique and you can rest assured knowing that the fat is actually gone by way of natural processes.

3) There is nothing to be scared of: CoolSculpting is non-invasive, relatively painless, and requires no downtime! The term “fat freezing” can sound a bit intimidating.  Fortunately for those who opt for this procedure, this is not the case at all! Typically, patients report the sensation of suction, a firm grab, then a cold feeling.  However, this is accompanied by numbness, which can serve as a natural anesthetic. After the treatment, the area will receive a short 2 – 5 minute massage which can be a bit uncomfortable. However, many have claimed that this mild discomfort was actually the worst part of the process, as CoolSculpting feels practically painless overall. Additionally, studies have found that this post-treatment massage enhances the effectiveness of the procedure, making it worthwhile [iii]. Additionally, by opting for CoolSculpting, patients don’t have to miss a beat.  Side effects in the hours and days following the treatment may include mild numbness, tingling, and bruising, but all of this is to be expected and can be relieved with a bit of Advil or Tylenol.  If the procedure takes place on larger portions of the body, such as the abdomen, additional pain becomes a bit more likely, and may last up to a couple of weeks, but is usually rather minimal and manageable. There are no scars, no restrictions, and no days wasted on painful recuperation, as with many other fat reduction treatments such as liposuction.  Patients can head to work, or even hit the gym immediately following the procedure. In fact, in a clinical trial involving 528 patients, only 3 cases of side effects were reported and were relatively mild[iv]. Thus, potential CoolSculpting patients can expect a smooth and easy experience.

4) Coolsculpting centers really want you to have positive results and multi-treatment packages are the way to make this happen. A single treatment can provide a 20-25% reduction in fat, which can be great for those looking to shed just a bit of extra bulge. However, CoolSculpting experts suggest multi-treatment packages, for further fat reduction and more significant results. Coolsculpting providers want you to be satisfied with your results, so they often encourage you to undergo further treatments, thus ensuring you leave happy and confident. Upon a second treatment, patients can notice up to a 40% reduction of fat. In addition, by opting for a multi-treatment package at the time of consultation, you can save up to 10% on an advertised price, see more noticeable results, and target a specific area with more precision and ease. With the choice of further rounds of treatment, CoolSculpting allows for personalized options, catering to different body types and goals. Centers want patients to be so happy with their results that they want to share their experience and encourage others to undergo the treatment as well. Accordingly, customer satisfaction is astoundingly high. In a survey conducted after a clinical trial of 518 patients, 82% said they would recommend the procedure to a friend[v].

5) CoolSculpting is relatively affordable but understanding the true cost of the procedure is important. While other fat reduction methods, such as liposuction, can rack up a bill of tens of thousands of dollars, CoolSculpting provides a more reasonable option. Yet, while CoolSculpting is often advertised as costing around $675 per treatment, this is not entirely accurate. Prices for authentic CoolSculpting often ranges from $900 to $1,800 per treatment cycle, and many can actually expect to pay between $2,700 to $3,600 to completely target the desired area. But where does this confusion come from and why does CoolSculpting seem to cost more than advertised? Pricing for CoolSculpting is depicted per treatment, but patients will actually need a minimum of two treatments in order to target both sides of the body. These treatments add up to one round of CoolSculpting. However, experts recommend at least two rounds of treatments. While this is where the extra cost comes in, this is also where amplified results occur. These two rounds of treatment can provide up to a 40% reduction of fat in the targeted area. While CoolSculpting may cost a bit more than anticipated, it still costs 2 to 3 times less than surgical options intended to target the same areas of the body and can be a great option for fat reduction hopefuls not keen on breaking the bank.

6) CoolSculpting is not a weight loss treatment but can help fuel a fitness journey and boost confidence. While this treatment is not intended for the extremely overweight, it can be paired with a healthy diet and exercise, or even a weight loss program. In many cases, CoolSculpting serves as a motivator to live a healthier life and can give patients an extra boost to make a change. Thus, it can be a great starting point on a fitness journey. Those who opt for this treatment can even do so after losing a great deal of weight, in order to sculpt up and make finishing touches to attain a more ideal physique. CoolSculpting can have a positive impact mentally as well as physically, as patients can experience a heightened sense of confidence that comes with creating a more ideal body or being able to fit into clothes more easily. For many patients, CoolSculpting is the first step to creating a better self, and its positive results can carry over into other areas of life.

7) While CoolSculpting is a safe and viable option for most, there are a few types of people who shouldn’t undergo this treatment. It is important to note that there are a few cases in which this treatment may not be right for you. CoolSculpting is not a weight loss remedy and is generally not intended for patients with a BMI over 30, as they will not receive satisfactory results. Although CoolSculpting has very limited contraindications, there are a select few serious medical conditions which can prevent some from undergoing this procedure. If a person has Raynaud’s disease, lab work will need to be done to determine if that person also has Cryoglobulinemia or Hemoglobinuria, which are medical conditions that are triggered by the cold. If either of these conditions present themselves in testing, then CoolSculpting is not a safe option. Additionally, patients who have a hernia shouldn’t undergo ab sculpting, and those who have recently had surgery in the potential treatment area should pass on this procedure as well. All of these instances are extremely rare, and overall CoolSculpting is very safe. It is simply important to know your body and do your research before making a decision about which fat reduction option is right for you.

8) Be wary of CoolSculpting imposters! While facilities offering the treatment at a lower price can seem like a tempting option, they may not be what they claim to be. Only certified practices use the true CoolSculpting machine and equipment that can provide safe, effective results. These practices are overseen by a licensed physician and all of the staff members there are certified in CoolSculpting. There are also specific guidelines for advertised pricing established by the makers, Allergan. This means that prices shouldn’t greatly vary from provider to provider, so a huge discrepancy in cost may tell those looking to get this treatment that a center may not be the best choice. But don’t panic. Simply do your research in order to find a trusted, certified provider.

9) Not all CoolSculpting centers are the same. In addition to seeking out a certified CoolSculpting provider, those opting for this treatment should look for a dedicated CoolSculpting center as well. While there may be a lot of CoolSculpting providers in your area, these centers may offer many other services and may even view CoolSculpting as a side business. Having other treatments and procedures to attend to can take the staff away from CoolSculpting and prevent them from becoming experts on the procedure. Even more disturbingly, these centers may attempt to sell some of the other procedures they offer during a CoolSculpting consultation. While these centers should be avoided at all costs, luckily there are dedicated CoolSculpting centers that focus on the procedure. These centers allow their staff to hone their CoolSculpting  skills, making them more successful, educated, and advanced. While these facilities are your best bet for quality care and satisfactory results, there are only a limited number of dedicated CoolSculpting centers across the U.S. and getting to one of these centers may require extra travel. However, the assurance and results are worth the trip, and if you are lucky enough to live close to a dedicated center, you should take advantage of this luxury.

10) The results require some patience but are long-lasting. The fat does actually go away, as apoptosis occurs, and the fat cells are metabolized and eliminated. But what exactly is the timeline of these results? The true effects of the procedure take some time to appear, as fat cell elimination takes several weeks. As the body’s natural processes take place, inflammation occurs. However, four weeks after treatment, inflammation begins to decrease and the number of adipocytes, or fat cells, continues to decrease, with full results presenting themselves around the 8-12 week mark[vi]. One of the many benefits of this procedure is that the fat reduction should be gradual and seem like a natural progression. While the results take a bit of time, patience pays off, as the cells killed during CoolSculpting do not come back.

So, should you freeze your fat away?  Of course, that is a decision which involves careful care and consideration.  However, being properly informed can take the overwhelming guesswork out of looking for a fat reduction option.  With millions of CoolSculpting treatments already performed worldwide, this procedure seems less like a passing fad, and more like a fat reduction phenomenon.

References

i. Krueger N., Mai S., Luebberding S., Sadick N. (2015). “Cryolipolysis for Noninvasive Body Contouring: Clinical Efficacy and Patient Satisfaction.” Dove Press Journal: Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 201-205.

ii. Krueger N., Mai S., Luebberding S., Sadick N. (2015). “Cryolipolysis for Noninvasive Body Contouring: Clinical Efficacy and Patient Satisfaction.” Dove Press Journal: Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 201-205.

iii. Ingargiola, M., Motakef S., Chung M., Vasconez H., Sasaki G. (2014). “Cryolipolysis for Fat Reduction and Body Contouring: Safety and Efficacy of Current Treatment Paradigms.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 135.6. 1581-90.

iv. Stevens, W. G., Pietrzak, L. K., & Spring, M. A. (2013). “Broad Overview of a Clinical and Commercial Experience With CoolSculpting.” Aesthetic Surgery Journal 33.6, 835-846.

v. Dierickx, C. C., Mazer, J., Sand, M., Koenig, S., & Arigon, V. (2013). “Safety, Tolerance, and Patient Satisfaction With Noninvasive Cryolipolysis.” Dermatologic Surgery 39.8. 1209-1216.

vi. Krueger N., Mai S., Luebberding S., Sadick N. (2015). “Cryolipolysis for Noninvasive Body Contouring: Clinical Efficacy and Patient Satisfaction.” Dove Press Journal: Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 201-205.