woman getting CoolSculpting treatment in cosmetic

CoolSculpting© Treatment Part 1 

What You Need to Know about Cryolipolysis – aka CoolSculpting® – to Decide If It’s Right for You  

Likely you’ve heard about CoolSculpting treatment. Information is everywhere – promoted with TV ads and infomercials; discussed in magazines, newspapers, and brochures; described online through websites, YouTube demos, influencer postings, and self-evaluation quizzes. CoolSculpting© is actually a brand name for the medical procedure called cryolipolysis. Broken down, the word says it all: cryo means cold, lipo means fat, and lysis is destruction, which is exactly what CoolSculpting treatment is all about. Here’s what you need to know about CoolSculpting treatment.

The What and Why of CoolSculpting© Treatment

CoolSculpting is a fat reduction procedure that applies cold temperatures to specific areas of the body to kill fat cells. Treatments can be effective for shrinking localized fat deposits that have not responded to diet and exercise. The process works by applying cold temperatures to targeted parts of the body, which injures fat cells under the skin. The injury sets off an inflammatory response which results in the death of the fat cells. Dead fat cells and debris are then expelled from the body via the alimentary system. Destruction of fat cells is permanent; once eliminated from the body, they do not return.  

Advantages of CoolSculpting are that it is non-invasive, low risk, outpatient, and does not require anesthesia. Following a procedure, patients generally experience minimal disruption to their lives. Some with little to no recovery time required.  

Knowing that this is not a weight reduction technique is essential to understanding what CoolSculpting can and cannot do. It is not intended for people who are obese, wanting to lose large amounts of weight, or those seeking dramatic, instant changes to their physical profiles. Nor can it remove excess skin. Rather, CoolSculpting is a body contouring process that works for people who follow healthy diets, exercise regularly, and are at or near their ideal body weights. By targeting and destroying designated pockets of fat, CoolSculpting reshapes the body in areas that are treated. Resulting in what the patient defines as slimmer, more desirable body lines.  

Developed by Scientists, FDA-Approved  

The idea behind CoolSculpting treatment originated in 2008. Two physician-scientists noticed that young children who frequently sucked on popsicles developed permanent divots or dimples in their cheeks. Further investigation revealed that the dimples formed due to inflammation of the fat cells in the children’s mouths. The fat cells were frozen, destroyed, and eventually flushed from the body – all due to the frozen popsicles.

Wondering whether such fat loss would apply elsewhere, the doctors experimented with applying cold to fat tissues. Lowering the temperature to 40 degrees caused fat cells to disintegrate and die, without harming the skin or other organs. Cryolipolysis or fat freezing was born. Following clinical success in using their new cryolipolysis device to get rid of excess fat at the waistline, the inventors applied for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which was granted in 2010. The first fat freezing machines, commercially marketed as CoolSculpting, were sold to private clinics that same year.  

The popularity of CoolSculpting has expanded rapidly ever since. Today there are nearly 4,000 licensed clinics and spas in the U.S. By 2019, more than eight million treatments had been performed in the nine body areas sanctioned by the FDA. Treatments included beneath the chin, upper arms, inner thighs, outer thighs, abdomen, hip/flank (love handles), upper back, lower back, and under the buttocks. Nearly 50 countries around the world have approved the procedure.  

CoolSculpting fat removal treatment on a man's abdomen.
CoolSculpting fat removal treatment on a man’s abdomen.

What To Think about When Thinking about Contouring Your Body  

Shaping parts of your body with CoolSculpting can give your personal image and self-esteem a real boost. The before-and-after of seeing those pesky, persistent bulges melt away might be a big factor in helping you achieve the appearance of your dreams.   

When it comes to making informed choices about your health, there are several things about CoolSculpting treatment you want to keep in mind. Most important is working with your dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or certified skincare professional to define exactly what you want to achieve and in which areas of your body. Keep in mind that changes are often subtle, with fat loss in a treated area of 15% to 28% per session. Since the elimination of dead fat cells happens gradually, final results may take from four to six months to appear, although changes begin to be evident within a few weeks.  

On the plus side:  

  • This is not surgery, so there is no incision or intrusion into the body. 
  • Risks are minimal and infection is not a factor.  
  • CoolSculpting is done on an outpatient basis, with no hospitalization required. 
  • Sedation or anesthesia is unnecessary.  
  • Normal daily activities can be resumed almost immediately.   
  • Side effects are generally few or very mild.  
  • The procedure can be done on people of all ages, although results may be better in those over 18 after the body is fully developed. Approximately 15% of patients are men. 
  • Nerve fibers, blood vessels, muscles, adjacent cells, and skin are not damaged by treatment. 
  • More than one area of the body can be treated in the same session.  

Possible disadvantages include:  

  • The process is only for people looking for targeted fat reduction in specific areas of the body, in good general health, without neurologic or orthopedic problems. It is not a weight-loss technique and does not yield desired results for people who are significantly overweight.   
  • More than one session may be needed to get the best outcomes in a given area, and sessions treating the same area must be 6 to 8 weeks apart.  
  • CoolSculpting during pregnancy or while breastfeeding is not recommended. Also, those with varicose veins, dermatitis, cuts, injuries, skin lesions or conditions like eczema or psoriasis should not be treated.  
  • People with abnormal cold sensitivity or cold intolerance caused by any of several medical conditions are not suitable candidates. 
  • The side effect of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, while rare, has occurred. For unknown reasons, fat cells increase after cryolipolysis, creating a protrusion in the treated area that may require surgery.  

Be aware that CoolSculpting is an out-of-your-wallet expense. The process is an elective cosmetic procedure and is not covered by insurance. Costs vary depending on the goals of each patient, the type and number of areas targeted, and how many treatment sessions are done. To complete a treatment plan, the cost most often cited online is $2,000 to $4,000, but be sure to get firm estimates before deciding to proceed.  

Coming soon to this website! Part 2, as we go inside a CoolSculpting treatment session to see what actually takes place.