Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Brian Cripe explains CoolSculpting benefits, procedural techniques, expected results, and recovery
In the past decade, millions of patients have received CoolSculpting treatments to shrink stubborn fat deposits. At Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona, we’ve provided CoolSculpting procedures for four years, and are the region’s premier plastic surgery practice.
CoolSculpting is an effective, FDA-approved, non-surgical procedure fat-reduction treatment. In this article, I want to address some of the common questions we get about CoolSculpting.
CoolSculpting Before and After
CoolSculpting can be used to safely spot-treat multiple fatty areas without incisions or anesthesia. Patients usually see a 25% reduction in fat in treated areas, and results are visible within one to three months. The treatments are relatively quick and painless, and recovery is easy. With CoolSculpting, we can treat multiple areas during each session. Common treatment areas include the submental area (neck and double chin), upper arms, abdomen, flanks, inner and outer thighs, banana roll, bra fat, and knee area.
As you can see, this patient significantly reduced subcutaneous fat stores in the abdomen and flanks:
This patient achieved a dramatic result. With less excess volume, their lower back and flanks are slimmer and more sculpted:
What to Expect from CoolSculpting: Procedure and Recovery
CoolSculpting procedures are generally well tolerated and produce minimal side effects. Some patients report soreness, bruising, and temporary tingling right after the procedure.
CoolSculpting is extremely efficient and non-invasive. A single CoolSculpting treatment for one area takes about 30 minutes. During the procedure, we place applicators in targeted treatment areas. You may feel a pulling sensation, followed by coldness. It feels a bit like putting your hand in ice water. After the treatment, we massage treated tissues to help accelerate the fat cell apoptosis (programmed cell death).
CoolSculpting recently made headlines when supermodel Linda Evangelista shared how her fat-freezing treatments inadvertently deformed her figure instead of improving it. She is one of a small percentage of patients who experience a condition known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) following cryolipolysis.
While PAH is not harmful to patients from a medical standpoint, it is a concerning complication. In patients with PAH, instead of fat cells getting smaller and dying, they swell up and harden, creating lumpy pockets of dense adipose tissue.
We still aren’t sure why some patients develop PAH, but it’s an infrequent complication.
In Linda’s case, she received seven treatments from her dermatologist over six months. Instead of stopping treatments after the first procedure flopped, her provider continued to freeze the cells, which I believe exacerbated the issue. By the time the treatments stopped, the patient was no longer a good candidate for corrective liposuction, leaving her “permanently disfigured.”
CoolSculpting providers need to recognize the early signs of PAH, halt subsequent procedures as soon as possible, and correct with traditional liposuction.
The Gold Standard Alternative to CoolSculpting: Liposuction
If you’re looking for a lower-cost, convenient, and non-invasive way to spot-treat stubborn fat stores, then CoolSculpting is a great solution. But, if you want to permanently remove fat cells in greater quantities, then liposuction is still the “gold standard” option for effective body contouring and fat reduction.
A single liposuction procedure will eliminate far more fat than repeated CoolSculpting procedures. On the other hand, liposuction requires anesthesia, and a longer recovery period of wearing compression garments, and can be more expensive than CoolSculpting. Multiple CoolSculpting procedures in many areas can be more costly than liposuction. Both procedures have pros and cons that patients must weigh.
Book Your CoolSculpting or Liposuction Consultation Today
If you’d like to learn more about CoolSculpting or liposuction procedures, we’d love to bring you in for a consultation. Our team of board-certified plastic surgeons and experienced providers at Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona can answer your questions and discuss a wide range of surgical and non-surgical body contouring treatment options.