What Is CoolSculpting®?

CoolSculpting® is a non-invasive body contouring procedure by ZELTIQ® Aesthetics that can create a tighter, slimmer shape in under an hour. The process is FDA-cleared for the reduction of fat cells in the abdomen, flanks, buttocks, thighs, and back, as well as under the chin and jawline. CoolSculpting works by sending cooling energy to stubborn pockets of fat that have not seen improvement from diet and exercise. The technology targets excess fat cells and does not affect the surrounding tissue, such as the skin, nerves, or vessels. As a result, the treatment is typically more comfortable and requires no downtime following each session.

Who Is a Candidate for CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting can often be a great solution for patients wanting a more athletic physique without undergoing a surgical procedure, such as liposuction. The treatment is ideal for those already at or near their goal weight who have accumulated excess fatty tissue in areas such as their abdomen, back, love handles, and thighs as well as underneath the chin and buttocks. These individuals can typically achieve a more toned look by the gradual fat reduction obtained through CoolSculpting.

To ensure patients get the best possible results from his CoolSculpting experience, Dr. Neil Zemmel and our team at Richmond Aesthetic Surgery will create a custom treatment plan based on the patient’s desired outcome and how much fatty tissue is present.

What Can I Expect in the CoolSculpting Procedure?

To begin the CoolSculpting process, a gel pad will be placed on the area to be treated, and the applicator will be secured to the target area. The technology will begin to send cooling energy to the area to lower the temperature of the fat cells and gradually destroy them. This can feel like an intense cold sensation for the first 5 to 10 minutes, after which the area becomes numb. Immediately following treatment, the area will be massaged for a few minutes as it returns to its normal temperature. This step—which is often referred to as “massaging the butter”—helps break up the damaged fat cells, making it easier for the body to naturally dispose of them.

A session of CoolSculpting takes approximately 35 to 60 minutes per treatment area to complete. Some patients choose to have multiple areas treated during their appointment, but additional visits can be scheduled as well. Depending on the individual’s treatment plan, multiple sessions to address the same area(s) may be required to help them achieve their desired outcome.

Is CoolSculpting Painful?

Most patients report having no pain during their CoolSculpting treatment, but it is possible to have some discomfort before the target area has gone numb. As the machine begins to send cooling energy, this may cause a pinching or stinging sensation. However, within about 10 minutes, patients should start to feel comfortable, allowing them to relax throughout the course of their treatment.

What Does the CoolSculpting Recovery Entail?

It is normal to experience some discomfort following CoolSculpting; however, since the procedure is non-invasive, no downtime is usually required, allowing patients to resume their normal schedule after leaving our office. As the body naturally disposes of the treated fat cells, results can begin to be seen as soon as three weeks, and optimal results can typically be noticed at four to six months.

How Many CoolSculpting Treatments Will I Need?

Many patients can achieve noticeable improvement after a single CoolSculpting session, but to achieve optimal results, you may be recommended a series of approximately one to three treatments. This is because only a percentage of fat in the target area is destroyed during each CoolSculpting session. For those with more advanced fat reduction needs, follow-up sessions can be scheduled. It’s also important to remember that every patient’s body responds differently to CoolSculpting, so if additional contouring is desired, Dr. Zemmel can discuss the potential of undergoing a series of treatment sessions.

How Long Do CoolSculpting Results Last?

Since CoolSculpting breaks down fat cells and naturally eliminates them from the body, they cannot grow back. Although these cells are considered permanently removed, your newly contoured body shape can be affected by future weight fluctuations. This is due to the remaining fat cells in your body being able to grow with weight gain. With this in mind, it is important to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and regular exercise, as this can help you maintain the positive outcome from your CoolSculpting treatment.

Photos courtesy of CoolSculpting®

Photos courtesy of CoolSculpting®

Will CoolSculpting Get Rid of Loose Skin?

CoolSculpting is specifically designed to target excess fat cells in stubborn areas of the body, but for those undergoing treatment for a “double chin” appearance, CoolSculpting is also FDA-cleared to address lax tissue in this submental area. For most body areas, however, the technology is not proven to affect surrounding tissues, including the skin, which is why the treatment is not an effective method of tightening loose skin. Patients with a significant amount of excess skin are typically not good candidates for CoolSculpting and are often better suited for a surgical procedure such as a tummy tuck, neck lift, or other contouring solution.

If you achieve positive fat reduction results from CoolSculpting but find that you are left with loose or excess skin, our plastic surgeon can determine a complementary procedure that can finalize your contouring results. He will not recommend CoolSculpting if you are likely to have poor skin results following treatment.

Can CoolSculpting Treat Cellulite?

Cellulite is common in areas that tend to accumulate excess fat, such as the thighs and buttocks. Unfortunately, CoolSculpting is not able to get rid of cellulite. This is because cellulite is the result of connective bands drawing the skin’s surface down, creating the uneven skin appearance. Since CoolSculpting targets fat cells, specifically, it is not able to loosen the bands that are causing the characteristic dimpling effect of cellulite.

How Much Does CoolSculpting Cost?

According to the manufacturer, the average cost of CoolSculpting is approximately $2,000 to $4,000, though this can vary. Men and women interested in CoolSculpting will need to schedule a consultation to receive a quote for their treatment cost. Since the procedure is customized for each patient, the total cost will depend on multiple factors involved in a patient’s treatment plan. This includes the volume of fat removal desired, the number of areas being treated, and how many sessions are required to reach the optimal outcome.

Is CoolSculpting Safe?

CoolSculpting technology is designed to deliver safe and effective treatments for those who are good candidates for the solution. The device delivers controlled cooling to target the unwanted fat underneath the skin. If the system’s sensors detect the skin has reached too low of a temperature, it will automatically shut off. In addition, our team has undergone specialty training and certification to perform CoolSculpting, ensuring your comfort and safety.

Are There Any Side Effects to CoolSculpting?

Side effects from CoolSculpting are typically well tolerated and fade as the body heals. During the treatment session, you may feel pulling, mild pinching, intense cold, and cramping. As the area becomes numb over the course of 5 to 10 minutes, this discomfort gradually fades. After the procedure, you may experience redness, swelling, bruising, itching, and sensitivity in the treatment area. These effects typically subside within a few days or weeks. Another rare risk of CoolSculpting is the development of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). This extremely rare condition can be a result of CoolSculpting treatment where the targeted fat and tissue increases instead of being eliminated. This occurs in only .0051% of cryolipolysis patients. More details about the possible risks and side effects of CoolSculpting will be described to you in detail during your consultation, allowing you to make an informed decision about your body contouring treatment.

CoolSculpting vs. SculpSure®

CoolSculpting and SculpSure are similar in that they are both non-invasive treatments designed to destroy fat cells for an improved body contour. While CoolSculpting uses cooling technology to freeze fatty tissue, SculpSure utilizes laser energy to heat it. Both treatments eliminate targeted fat cells forever, and with proper diet, the results can be maintained for a lifetime. Dr. Zemmel prefers CoolSculpting over SculpSure, however, due to its wide-ranging results. CoolSculpting has been approved by the FDA for use throughout numerous areas on the body.

What Alternatives Are There to CoolSculpting?

Alternatives to CoolSculpting may be recommended depending on your needs and preferences, including the extent of fat reduction you are seeking and if excess skin is also present. For patients wanting to address a “double chin,” KYBELLA® is another non-surgical solution that involves injections into the area underneath the chin to break down unwanted fat. Liposuction is a surgical alternative to CoolSculpting that can provide more dramatic fat removal results. The most appropriate contouring procedure for your needs will be discussed with you during your consultation.

CoolSculpting Patient Testimonials

Hear what one woman had to say about her experience undergoing CoolSculpting, and why she would recommend it to others struggling with stubborn fat deposits around their body.

Additional CoolSculpting FAQs

How Cold Does CoolSculpting Get?

During your CoolSculpting treatment, the system gets below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius); however, your target area will not fully reach this temperature. The system is designed to cool the trouble area just enough to crystallize fat cells. Since the freezing point for fat cells is higher than that of your other tissue, the treatment is able to destroy fat while ensuring the surrounding areas are not damaged.

Is There a Way to Do CoolSculpting at Home?

Contouring areas of excess fat using a do-it-yourself (DIY) system at home is not advised. CoolSculping works through a process known as cryolipolysis. While applying ice packs or another cold material may seem like a viable at-home alternative for destroying fat cells, this is typically ineffective and/or unsafe. CoolSculpting sends controlled cooling that is just cold enough to damage fat cells without harming other tissues. The system has a safeguard that turns the technology off if it detects the treatment area is getting too cold. By attempting cryolipolysis using an at-home method, you are at risk of burning yourself and not seeing any improvement from your efforts. CoolSculpting should always be performed by a qualified provider.

How Many Inches Can You Lose with CoolSculpting

CoolSculpting can eliminate about 20-25% of fat cells in the treated area. While this can provide a noticeable sculpting effect, CoolSculpting results are not measured in inches or pounds and, therefore, your aesthetic professional can not guarantee how much the procedure can help you lose. Depending on the amount of excess fat you would like to address, as well as how your body responds to your first treatment, our team can recommend the ideal number of treatment sessions to ensure you achieve optimal fat reduction.

Can I Get CoolSculpting After Pregnancy?

Past pregnancies should not affect a woman’s eligibility for CoolSculpting. Even if you have undergone a c-section, you are likely still a candidate to undergo the CoolSculpting procedure. That said, scarring in the abdomen—whether from a c-section or other cause—may require consideration when planning your CoolSculpting treatment. During your consultation, Dr. Zemmel will determine your candidacy and discuss how a previous c-section may affect the details of your treatment plan.

How Can I Reduce Swelling After CoolSculpting?

Swelling after CoolSculpting is normal and typically fades within a few days of treatment. However, in rare cases, individuals may have prolonged swelling that takes weeks to subside. To control possible swelling after your treatment, it can help to wear a compression garment over the treated area and take over-the-counter pain medication, such as TYLENOL®, to help manage your discomfort. If you have any concerns about your swelling and feelings of tenderness, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

Can I Speed up My CoolSculpting Results?

There is no proven way to expedite the results of your CoolSculpting session, but there are certain steps you can take during recovery to maximize your results. Our team advises our CoolSculpting patients to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and drink plenty of water. Your body will take time to metabolize the destroyed fat cells, and maintaining good health throughout this period can support this natural process.

How Soon Will I See My CoolSculpting Results?

Results from CoolSculpting will vary for each patient, but the general timeline is similar from treatment to treatment. In most cases, patients who receive CoolSculpting can notice their results developing within a 1 to 3 month period. Typically, people will see their results improving for at least six months as fat cells are processed out of the body.

Can CoolSculpting Help Me Lose Weight?

CoolSculpting is not a weight loss treatment and is more specifically designed to get rid of unwanted fatty tissue in targeted areas. That said, CoolSculpting can be a great tool for helping to further contour and sculpt your figure following your own weight loss efforts.

Should I Get Liposuction or CoolSculpting?

Deciding between liposuction and CoolSculpting can be determined at your initial consultation when you meet with our team. We will be able to go over the benefits of each procedure and match them to your needs and goals. In general, liposuction is a surgical procedure that can often address larger fatty areas, while CoolSculpting is a non-surgical service that can provide more subtle contours to your body shape. Each option can be highly beneficial for the right candidates.

Schedule Your CoolSculpting Consultation

If you have any questions about CoolSculpting, or would like to learn about one of our other body procedures, please contact us to schedule your consultation.