CoolSculpting: What's all the buzz about?

“Fat, why art thou so stubborn?” This question has haunted men and women alike for decades. For years, we’ve meticulously tracked calories and spent countless hours sweating at the gym with the ultimate goal of banishing those love handles for good. Depending on numerous factors, including genetics, some have better luck than others. For many Americans, stubborn fat around the hips, back, and thighs has made the much-maligned muffin top seem like an inevitable fixture of our day-to-day lives.

What about liposuction?

As of this writing, we still don’t have a magic pill for targeted fat loss, although a few procedures have come close. Liposuction, first performed in the 1970’s, has been an effective surgical procedure for removing unwanted body fat and “sculpting” the body into a more desirable shape. Done well, this can bring about dramatic aesthetic improvements with relatively subtle changes. However, surgical procedures are not without their drawbacks, requiring anesthesia and a few days off work due to their considerable recovery time. They also carry their own set of risks such as infection and other complications. Thankfully for those unable or unwilling to take on the risks associated with a surgical procedure, we’re finally seeing the rise of non-surgical options for fat removal. This is where CoolSculpting comes in.

How CoolSculpting works

CoolSculpting is a non-surgical procedure that eliminates fat cells permanently by a chemical process known as “cryolipolysis”, whereby fat cells are frozen, then die. During your CoolSculpting session, we use a special tool similar to a vacuum hose that cools a roll of fat to freezing temperature, leaving the fat cells permanently damaged. In the weeks following treatment, your body naturally eliminates the frozen, dead fat cells through its natural detoxification process. The entire process takes about 30-45 minutes, meaning that a CoolSculpting session is quick enough to be squeezed in on your lunch break. Results, while not immediate, are long-lasting and begin to show within a few weeks, with the final results taking about three months as fat cells are gradually eliminated through the liver. Because CoolSculpting is an outpatient procedure that doesn’t require surgery, no anesthesia is required and most patients can return to their daily routine immediately. With all these benefits and reduced risks compared to surgical solutions, it’s no wonder CoolSculpting is so darn popular.

Is CoolSculpting right for me?

Whether or not CoolSculpting is the right option for you depends on your individual goals, if you’re currently at a healthy weight, and what you’re looking to get out of the procedure. It’s important to note that CoolSculpting focuses on fat loss, not weight loss. In fact, those who benefit the most from the procedure don’t lose very much weight and are typically happy with their current weight, but would like to look a bit slimmer in their clothing. It’s for this reason that it’s usually recommended that a person be at their goal weight, or very close to it, before beginning CoolSculpting treatment.

Wait...so fat loss and weight loss aren’t the same?

To best understand the CoolSculpting procedure and how it works, one must understand the difference between weight loss and fat loss. For the most part, the amount of fat cells we carry around on our body and where these cells are distributed is determined by our genetics. Fat cell distribution settles during our teenage years and does not change. The areas on our body with the highest concentration of fat cells are what we typically refer to as “problem areas.” When you lose weight, these fat cells shrink, but do not disappear entirely. When one gains weight, these fat cells expand. CoolSculpting has been shown to actually eliminate the number of fat cells by as much as 25% in targeted areas. Unlike traditional weight loss, these changes to the fat cells are permanent. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.

However, a CoolSculpting procedure doesn’t affect non-treated areas and isn’t a free pass to pig out at your holiday potluck; to maintain your slimmer figure, it’s important to keep your weight stable as your body can still store fat in other areas of the body.

What are the side effects?

With CoolSculpting, side effects are rare and typically minor. A few patients report discomfort during the procedure, although usually mild. Following the procedure, some report redness, swelling, bruising, tenderness, itching, or skin sensitivity for a few days or weeks. If needed, pain medication may be prescribed.

How many treatments will I need?

The amount of treatments needed will depend on your current physique and your overall aesthetical goals. For example, if you want to get rid of your muffin top but are also bothered by stubborn thigh fat, multiple treatments will be necessary. During your consult, Dr. Lee and her staff will work with you to put together a treatment plan to ensure optimal results. In fact, CoolSculpting is often combined with other procedures to get the best possible outcome.

Get the skinny!

If you still have questions about CoolSculpting, Liposuction, or any other procedure, feel free to give us a call. No matter your goals, the team at Lily Lee, MD has your back - and your love handles, too.