CoolSculpting - how does it work and is it safe?
If you want to slim down the appearance of your stomach, thighs, arms, or chin, CoolSculpting might be an option for you.
A pioneering fat-reduction treatment invented in the 21st century but already used by millions around the world, imagine low-key liposuction without the need for surgery or the tube (and with the temperature turned way down), and you’re getting there.
But are there risks? Is it painful? And does CoolSculpting really work?
In this article:
1 to 4 sessions
Duration of results
Back to work
Full recovery time
No recovery time
35 to 45 min
OTC pain relief
What is CoolSculpting?
Invented by Zeltig Aesthetics, CoolSculpting is the brand name for a non-surgical fat reduction treatment that freezes and eliminates fat cells located under the skin.
Most commonly used on people who are struggling to shift small amounts of fat via exercise and diet changes, it is designed to contour the body, using a technique known as cryolipolysis.
- CoolSculpting is a completely non-invasive treatment that requires no recovery time.
- The procedure can be used to treat a whole host of body areas, from the chin, thighs and lower waist to the abdomen, upper arms and more.
CoolTech (by Cocoon Medical), is another popular cryolipolysis option that is offered by many clinics. You can discover more information with our local listings.
How does CoolSculpting work?
A quick and efficient treatment with a relatively easy process, there aren’t many steps involved – nor do you usually have to do any special preparation.
Following an initial consultation to discuss the procedure and the areas you wish to target; you can simply sit back and relax while having it done.
To start, a nozzle is be applied to the target area – often described as being like a vacuum. You won’t feel any pain, but you’ll likely notice a cold, tugging sensation. That’s how you know it’s all underway.
Once the nozzles have been attached and the suction starts, the freezing process will begin. The area being treated will feel numb, and you’ll be attached to the machine for around 35 to 45 minutes, though this will vary per person. The ‘cryo’ process is so-called because it acts to cool and freeze fat in the treated area, permanently destroying fat cells in the process.
Once the nozzle has been removed, the target area will still feel numb to start with, and you’ll have to wait for it to ‘wake up’ again. You may feel a tingling or stinging sensation while this happens.
- After cryolipolysis has frozen and killed fat cells, they are expelled from the body via the liver over a period of around three months, though you will likely see improvement sooner.
- The procedure permanently eliminates the fat cells it targets. However, it can’t prevent new ones from forming if you gain weight. Maintaining results via a healthy diet and regular exercise is therefore recommended.
It is important to note that CoolSculpting is meant for people who are trying to lose a small amount of fat – and isn’t a direct replacement for liposuction.
While it is a non-surgical treatment, remember to still seek out a qualified, experienced clinician for the best results.
Is CoolSculpting safe – and other things you need to know
Is CoolSculpting safe?
As CoolSculpting is a non-surgical treatment, there is no cutting or anaesthetic involved. However, as with any cosmetic treatment, there are still potential risks that should be covered by your practitioner during the initial consultation.
Does CoolSculpting work?
Yes. It has been clinically shown to help reduce fat and destroy fat cells, with one key study finding that the process reduced fat layers in patients by 20 to 25 per cent. Your clinician will recommend how many sessions you require based on your personal needs; this number can be as low as one and is rarely more than four.
How long does CoolSculpting last?
As it works by freezing and eliminating fat cells, the results are permanent; your body will dispel the dead fat cells and they cannot regenerate.
This is why fat layer reduction is still seen a full six months after treatment in many cases, so you can expect long-term results. But a healthy diet and exercise will help maintain these results.
Who is most suitable for the procedure?
The ideal candidates are those with small amounts of pinchable fat who want to reduce a specific area – rather than those looking for overall weight loss.
When in doubt, do the “squish test”. If you can pinch the fat between your fingers, the treatment will likely be able to work on this area.
Is CoolSculpting worth it?
Many people find the treatment to be beneficial. Fat can be extremely stubborn to shift, even when you’re active and eating healthily. Rather than feeling discouraged and giving up, you may be able to get closer to the results you want using this method.
What are the side-effects?
Most people will only notice a small amount of redness, tenderness, or light bruising after the procedure. Other side-effects can include aching, cramping and skin sensitivity, but they tend to go away within a few days.
Are there any alternatives?
Healthy diet and effective exercise can help reduce body fat levels. You may wish to consider eating more oily fish, reducing your intake of saturated fats, and taking up yoga, pilates or jogging.
When it comes to alternative cosmetic procedures:
Liposuction has become one of the most popular fat-reduction procedures globally over the past 40 years. An invasive treatment that breaks down fat cells before removing them physically with a tube, it can potentially remove larger quantities of fat – but also requires several weeks of recovery time and may not be suitable if you’re concerned about surgery. Learn more with our Lipo guide.
Cavitation uses high-frequency, ultrasonic waves to break down fat cells. Like CoolSculpting it is a non-invasive treatment, and some clinical studies indicate it can produce even faster results. However, it can take a greater number of sessions than ‘cryo’ treatment to produce these results. Discover all you need to know with our Cavitation guide.
Remember to consider your options carefully before deciding which potential solution is right for you. Speak to your doctor for advice and guidance if you’re unsure.
- Cryolipolysis, the process behind CoolSculpting, was discovered when scientists observed children eating popsicles. They noticed their skin began to dimple when sucking on these frozen treats – and realised they were freezing away fat cells.
- More than eight million people worldwide have already had the treatment, according to a 2020 report.
- Fat reduction has been shown to be higher at six months following treatment than two months, so the procedure can get more effective over time.
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