The Science of Coolsculpting®: Everything You Need to Know

Perhaps you cannot lose those last 10 pounds, or you have lost all the weight you need to and want to tighten up your loose skin. CoolSculpting® can be an ideal option in either situation.
Image of a sexy young girl checking fats on her body

While consuming a healthy diet and getting a moderate amount of exercise each day are the best ways to lose weight, sometimes they are not quite enough to meet your health and appearance goals. This becomes especially obvious the closer you get to reaching your weight loss target. Perhaps you cannot lose those last 10 pounds, or you have lost all the weight you need to and want to tighten up your loose skin. CoolSculpting® can be an ideal option in either situation.

What Is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is a procedure that permanently freezes fat cells to help you achieve more of the toned appearance that you desire. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) originally approved the use of CoolSculpting back in 2010. The FDA also approved additional uses in 2012 and 2015. Today, the most common treatment areas for CoolSculpting include:

  • Abdomen
  • Back Fat
  • Bra Fat
  • Fat Bulges Under the Chin and Jawline
  • Flank
  • Lax Skin Tissues
  • Thighs
  • Underneath the Buttocks
  • Upper Arms

It is important to note that the makers of CoolSculpting did not intentionally target it for weight loss. While you will not necessarily lose weight after a treatment, it will help fat to appear less visible and give a more balanced appearance throughout your body. The typical CoolSculpting patient can see fat loss ranging from 20 to 25 percent after just one outpatient session. The fat reduction will be visible to others within approximately one to three months of your last treatment date. Best of all, fat cells do not return once your doctor has removed them via CoolSculpting.

What to Expect With a CoolSculpting Treatment

Before you receive treatment with CoolSculpting, your doctor will take pictures and measurements of the area you wish to treat. The two of you will also discuss your goals for treatment with CoolSculpting to ensure they are realistic and that they can be met. As mentioned above, this procedure is not a substitute for a sensible diet and exercise habits. You should not hesitate to speak up to clarify anything you may not understand before you undergo CoolSculpting for the first time. Make sure all your questions are answered before beginning treatment, and you do your research to ensure it’s right for you.

Once you are ready for the CoolSculpting procedure, the medical spa support staff helps you prepare by setting you up at a treatment table and ensuring that you feel comfortable. Next, your provider places an applicator attached to the CoolSculpting device to the area where you want to freeze and destroy fat cells. Your doctor determines the size of the applicator by evaluating the size and shape of your excess fat as well as how large it is upon pinching it.

Applicators typically have at least some degree of suctioning power. Your provider needs to choose the right applicator, so you have no extra space between the surface of your skin and the surface of the applicator. This ensures that the device sends continual feedback and adjusts the temperature during your treatment to help you avoid becoming too warm or too cold. The temperature should continue to adjust as you complete your treatment.

Treatment for most body parts takes approximately 35 minutes. The one exception is the outer thighs that can take up to 75 minutes. As the device removes your unwanted fat cells, it crystallizes them and turns them into liquid. This makes it easy for the device to suck the fat cells out through a tube. The CoolSculpting procedure does not affect other skin or tissue surrounding the area of unwanted fat.

After removing the applicator, your provider will treat the affected area with radio waves or perform a gentle massage. This helps to break up the fat cells further and turn them into liquid. It also helps to relieve any minor discomfort you may be experiencing. Your body simply reabsorbs the fat cells and excretes them later.

Who Makes a Good Candidate for CoolSculpting?

Any man or woman who can pinch more than one inch of fat in their abdomen, arms, or another common area of fat loss resistance can benefit from at least one CoolSculpting procedure. You should be within 30 pounds of your ideal weight but have pockets of fat that will not budge with your diet and exercise efforts. You should also intend to reduce fat in one or more of the areas indicated above.

CoolSculpting would not be right for you at this time if you have any of these health conditions:

  • Active Bleeding Disorders
  • Cold Agglutinin Disease
  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Epilepsy
  • Grave’s Disease
  • Malignant Tumor
  • Pulmonary Valve Defect
  • Open Hernia
  • Paroxysmal Cold Hemoglobinuria

The FDA does not approve the use of CoolSculpting during pregnancy. Additionally, you should avoid having a CoolSculpting treatment performed near any of these medical devices:

  • Cardiac Pacemaker
  • Drug Pumps
  • Hearing Aids
  • Implanted Defibrillators
  • Implanted Hearing devices
  • Implanted Neurostimulators

Be sure to let your doctor know if you have recently had surgery or if you have any allergies or sensitivities that could affect the procedure or your outcome. You may experience some mild forms of discomfort while undergoing CoolSculpting, including the following:

  • Aching
  • Cramping at the Area of Treatment
  • Intense Cold
  • Mild Sensation of Pinching
  • Stinging Sensation
  • Tingling Skin
  • Tugging Sensation

Fortunately, these types of mild discomfort begin to subside and quickly disappear once the treatment area becomes completely numb.

Side Effects and Recovery Expectations

It is common to experience mild side effects at the end of a 35-minute to 75-minute session of CoolSculpting. The most typical ones include:

  • Aching
  • Blanching
  • Bruising
  • Cramping
  • Firmness
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Sensation of fullness towards the back of your throat if you had treatment in the submandibular or submental areas
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Stinging
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Tingling

These side effects are all temporary and should disappear within one to two weeks after your CoolSculpting treatment—you will feel less uncomfortable with each passing day. Most people can return to work and normal activities the next day. However, it is still a good idea to avoid straining the treatment area any more than necessary. If you received CoolSculpting on your upper arms, for example, you would not want to go to the gym to lift weights that same day.

Although every medical or cosmetic procedure comes with some degree of risk, it is much lower when you choose CoolSculpting as opposed to plastic surgery such as liposuction. CoolSculpting is non-invasive, which means it doesn’t require your provider to make any surgical cuts or provide you with anesthesia. Unlike liposuction that may require at least an overnight hospital stay, CoolSculpting is an outpatient procedure that only typically requires less than an hour of your time.

Trust the Proven Results of CoolSculpting

Dr. Heidi Waldorf directs the department of Laser and Cosmetic Dermatology, a part of Mount Sinai Hospital located in New York City and the largest provider of non-invasive cosmetic procedures in the world. According to Dr. Waldorf, cosmetic doctors across the world have performed CoolSculpting more than four million times. Medical researchers, students, and doctors have published more than 75 papers on this procedure alone. The published papers, feedback from patients, and approval by the FDA all indicate that this is a procedure people can trust. It is fast, accurate, and requires little to no downtime for recovery.

Find the Right CoolSculpting Center

The decision to pursue CoolSculpting is a big one. When searching for a center for the initial consultation, find a place that is happy to sit down with you to explain the benefits, process, and potential risks in more detail. The staff should also provide information about cost and financing at this appointment and answer any questions you have before beginning. CoolSculpting isn’t for everyone, so make sure you do your due diligence and ask the questions you need to make the right decision.

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