Does CoolSculpting Work for Noninvasive Fat Removal?
What is CoolSculpting? And does CoolSculpting work?
You may have noticed a sudden surge in advertising for CoolSculpting, a method of noninvasive fat removal. CoolSculpt was recently purchased by Allergan, the company that makes Botox and Juvederm, along with hundreds of other products. Allergan is a big company with deep pockets, and they are throwing millions at advertising, so you’ve probably seen ads on tv or on your Facebook feed (unless that’s just me… are you trying to tell me something Facebook?)
What is CoolSculpting?
The technology of Coolsculpting was created at Massachusetts General Hospital (affiliated with Harvard Medical school). And in 2012 the FDA officially approved Coolsculpting for nonsurgical fat reduction. Since that first FDA approval Coolsculpting has added several additional FDA approvals for different areas of the body.
Coolsculpting works by freezing fat cells. You know how olive oil will solidify if you put it in the fridge? This will happen to the fat in your body as well, if it’s cooled down enough. Coolsculpt cools down your tissue until the fat crystallizes. This happens at a warmer temperature than water freezes at, meaning it’s possible to freeze fat without injuring skin and blood vessels. Once the fat crystalizes, the fat cells undergo apoptosis- programmed cell death. Apoptosis is an organized process, which means no scar tissue. Imagine moving out of a house and packing everything neatly vs. ransacking your stuff and scavenging through it afterward. The fat is then picked up by macrophages- cells that eat debris (little garbage trucks). It’s then taken to your lymphatic system and processed processed by your liver.
Too good to be true, or does CoolSculpting work?
Non-invasive fat removal sounds too good to be true. Remember VaserShape? I never saw great results with that (my predecessor had a machine, which I sold). But CoolSculpt actually does work. I know several plastic surgeons who have it in their practices, and find the results quite consistent. There are also numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals validating the technology, so it’s got solid scientific evidence behind it. So does CoolSculpting work? Absolutely.
What is CoolSculpting like?
During the treatment, a plate is applied to your skin and held on with suction. You may feel tugging, pulling, or pinching as the tissue is pulled into the applicator when the suction is turned on. As the applicator is cooled down, you’ll feel intense cold, then numbness. The applicator stays on about 30-40 minutes. After removing the applicator, the tissue is massaged. This encourages more of the fat cells to undergo apoptosis.
You can resume your regular activities right after the treatment. You may have numbness over the treatment area for 3-4 weeks. Some people have a couple days of mild swelling or bruising. But you literally have no downtime- you could go for a run afterward, or have a treatment on your lunch hour and then return to work. (Treatments usually take a couple hours, so you’ll need a long lunch break!)
What results will you see from CoolSculpting?
Results appear over a 1-3 month period as your body breaks down fat in the treatment area. Ultimately you’ll see a 20-25% reduction in fat. Liposuction is a little more effective -up to a 70% reduction in the amount of fat- but CoolSculpt has no downtime, and you can have multiple treatments over the same area.
Cost depends on the area you have treated, and how much fat is present. It’s not a whole lot less expensive than liposuction, but it’s a fantastic option for people who don’t want surgery.
Dr. Greer is a Plastic Surgeon who practices in Cleveland, OH. Her passion is helping moms regain self-confidence by getting rid of sagginess, wrinkles, and stubborn fat. Read more about her at www.greerplastics.org.
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