Is CoolSculpting Worth It
One of the most common questions I hear about CoolSculpting is: does CoolSculpting really work? In this blog post I’m going to explain how CoolSculpting works, what the treatment is like, and how to tell if you’ll get a great result.
How CoolSculpting works
The technology behind CoolSculping is called cryolipolysis: a process in which the fat cells are cooled down until the fat crystallizes (the cryo part), causing them to break down (lipolysis means rupture of fat). The temperature is very carefully controlled so that the surrounding tissue isn’t damaged; only the fat cells are affected. What’s especially cool about this process (pun intended- sorry!) is that the fat cells undergo apoptosis, i.e. programmed cell death. This means there is almost no inflammation, and thus very minimal pain, redness, and swelling.
How much fat does CoolSculpting remove?
We know from the studies showing the effectiveness of CoolSculpting that about 25% of the fat cells are removed with CoolSculpting. But this is a bit difficult to translate into the result you’ll see for a couple reasons. First, the result you see depends on how thick your fat layer is. If the cold doesn’t penetrate all the way through, you’ll see less improvement, because you’re only removing 25% of part of the fat, not all of it. In this instance doing additional sessions will result in continued improvement, because as the fat layer thins out, the cold will penetrate to the previously unaffected fat.
The second reason you may have difficulty visualizing your potential result is because it’s a bit hard to picture what a 25% thinner layer of fat is going to look like. And this is why it matters who you see for CoolSculpting. An experienced practitioner has a good idea of which clients will see a worthwhile result, and will be up front with you about whether you’re a good candidate.
A final note on how much fat CoolSculpting removes: you will not see a change on the scale. Most people don’t even see a difference on the scale with liposuction, which may remove even more fat than CoolSculpting. And this is because although it only takes a couple of pounds to make a significant difference in contour, this amount of fat loss doesn’t always show up on the scale because of our normal weight fluctuations.
Who is a good candidate for CoolSculpting?
CoolSculpting isn’t for everyone. You’re more likely to see a worthwhile improvement if you’re within about 25 pounds of a healthy weight for your body. This translates to a BMI of 30 or less. But even this rule of thumb doesn’t apply to every person, or every treatment, because the true effectiveness of CoolSculpting depends on how thick the fat layer is over the treatment area. So someone with a higher BMI will still see a nice improvement under the chin, where the fat is thinner, even if they’re not a great candidate to have the abdomen treated.
Even thinner patients won’t see a great CoolSculpting result if they’re trying to improve skin laxity, visceral fat, or cellulite. Skin laxity can only be improved with skin excision or possibly noninvasive treatments like Ulthera or Thermage. Visceral fat is the intra-abdominal fat behind your abdominal muscles. This can only be reduced with weight loss; I can’t even target visceral fat with liposuction. And cellulite is caused by fascial connections between the skin and underlying muscle. Imaging tufted upholstery; the best way to remove the indentation is to cut the thread, not remove the stuffing.
What to expect throughout the CoolSculpting process
Every CoolSculpting treatment at our office starts with the consultation. We offer complimentary consultations, and it’s especially important to me that I do all the consultations personally. That way if someone isn’t an excellent candidate for CoolSculpting I can recommend the treatment that will achieve the desired results, whether that’s liposuction, skin excision, etc.
At the end of each consultation, if you are a good candidate, we talk about the treatment plan. CoolSculpting is done in two sessions a month apart. We always do two sessions, because you’re just not going to see a result with a single session.
The actual treatment lasts anywhere from an hour to a couple hours, depending on the treatment area. And this is where if you’re a busy mom, you get a little time to yourself. We give you snacks and an iPad loaded with Netflix, which brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “Netflix and chill”. During the treatment you’ll feel some tugging and pulling, maybe a little pinching, when the suction kicks on. Then you’ll feel intense cold, and after that the area goes numb.
When the cycle is complete we take the applicator off and massage aggressively. This is important to kill off as many fat cells as possible. The massage does not feel nice; it’s a lot of pins and needles, and it can feel a little bit nauseating. The chin area is especially sensitive, so be prepared. But the massage is over very quickly, and afterward you’ll experience just some mild tenderness and sensitivity of the skin. The area will also be numb for about a month, after which the sensation returns.
Results start to appear by the time you have your second session, and you’ll see final results in 3-5 months. The best part about CoolSculpting is that there is absolutely no downtime! You can head right back to work, head to the gym, or even go on vacation after your treatment.
Is CoolSculpting permanent?
Allergan, the company which owns CoolSculpting, is very careful never to claim permanent fat reduction. But based on how it works and my own personal experience, I can reassure you the results are permanent. Fat cells are like storage tanks. They fill up when you gain weight, and empty out when you lose weight. But the storage tanks are still there, unless you physically remove them, like with liposuction. Since CoolSculpting causes the cells to die, it stands to reason the results would be permanent. And this is consistent with what I’ve personally experienced. I had CoolSculpting on my upper arms, and later gained a significant amount of weight while pregnant. Even after gaining 50 pounds I could see there was less fat on the back of my upper arms, and long sleeved shirts that should have been tight still fit.
What does CoolSculpting cost?
In any market where pricing is competitive retailers tend to all end up at similar pricing, and CoolSculpting is no exception. Be aware that some offices may try to reel you in with a deceptively low price. I’ve had patients bring me treatment plans from other offices that were half the price, and it turned out the treatment plan either only included a single session, or wasn’t as thorough (i.e. not as many cycles were included). When you compare apples to apples, pricing is pretty consistent among offices. So the differentiating factor is experience and background training. The benefit of coming to my office is that if CoolSculpting isn’t going to give you the result you’re looking for, I can tell you what treatment will achieve those results.
So what does CoolSculpting actually cost? You can expect to pay around $3000-5000 to treat your abdomen, waist, or upper arms. The chin, inner thighs and outer thighs are usually less. And if you have additional areas treated they are often discounted.
Is CoolSculpting worth it?
If you’ve read this far, you can see why CoolSculpting is worth it for some people, but not others. If you’re a good candidate and you want fat reduction without surgery, CoolSculpting is very effective.