The phrase “body sculpting” refers to a range of minimally to non-invasive aesthetic treatments that can rid people of stubborn body fat and other perceived imperfections. One of the most popular forms of body sculpting, and one we offer at Chetco Medical & Aesthetics in Brookings, OR, is CoolSculpting. This treatment uses the carefully calibrated application of cold temperatures to literally freeze away body fat.
Most people are also familiar with the surgical procedure liposuction, in which a plastic surgeon uses specialized tools to suck away excess body fat. Unlike the body sculpting options mentioned above, liposuction is invasive and requires both anesthesia and a recovery period. There are many other differences between liposuction and treatments like CoolSculpting, too. In this article, we’ll look at those differences and answer some of our patients’ most common questions about both the CoolSculpting treatment and its similarities and differences to liposuction.
Body Sculpting vs Liposuction FAQ
What Is CoolSculpting?
CoolSculpting is an FDA-approved, non-invasive treatment that uses the power of cold to freeze away stubborn body fat. It’s so quick that it can be done over a lunch break on a weekday, and there is zero downtime and only a minimal recovery time. This might sound like one of those too-good-to-be-true miracle cures, but it works so well it’s fast becoming one of the most popular body sculpting treatments in the country. In order to understand how it works, we must first understand how fat works in the human body.
The Science of Body Fat
The human body stores fat in specialized fat cells. It’s easy to assume that when we gain weight, we gain more fat cells, which we then lose when we lose weight. That’s not how fat cells work. Instead, the number of fat cells in your body remains more or less constant once you finish adolescence.
When we gain weight, our body stores more fat in these cells and they expand. When we lose weight, our body breaks down that fat and metabolizes it and the cells shrink. Fat cells can be destroyed, but it’s much harder than you’d think. In fact, the body sculpting treatment EmSculpt is effective because it works muscles so hard they release a compound that breaks down fat; it does this by simulating thousands of situps in mere minutes. You can see why, once body fat has formed, it can be so frustratingly difficult to get rid of through ordinary methods.
How CoolSculpting Works
CoolSculpting is based on a very simple principle: fat cells freeze at a slightly higher temperature than their surrounding tissues. Because of this, we can freeze fat cells without damaging the cells around them. These frozen fat cells take on a crystallized structure, and when they thaw, that crystallization kills the cells outright. By carefully controlling the application of cold to the area of treatment, we can quite literally freeze away stubborn body fat.
What Is the CoolSculpting Treatment Like?
CoolSculpting is a non-invasive outpatient treatment. One session takes an hour or less, and you can walk out of our office and go back to your daily routine as soon as you’re finished. There are no needles, no scalpels, and nothing for you to do but lean back and let the power of cold do its work.
When you visit our offices for a CoolSculpting session, we’ll use a specialized device that provides suction on the skin to pull fat in the area of treatment between two applicators. Those applicators will apply the cold temperatures. People who undergo this treatment report that it feels odd at first, but not painful. After a few minutes, the cold will numb the area of treatment, and you won’t feel much at all.
How Long Until I See My CoolSculpting Results?
The fat cells killed by your CoolSculpting treatment won’t disappear overnight. Instead, the body must break them down and metabolize them over time. Usually, people begin to see results from a CoolSculpting treatment within three weeks. Those results continue to improve over time as more and more fat cells are flushed out of the treated area. Sometimes results won’t be final for up to six months after the initial treatment.
How Much Fat Does It Remove?
CoolSculpting removes around 25% of the fat cells in the area of treatment. This is more than enough for a noticeable reduction in stubborn fat.
How Long Do the Results Last?
As we mentioned above, it’s remarkably difficult to force the body to create new fat cells. Extreme weight gain can do the trick, but absent that, the results are intended to be permanent. There may be some fluctuation in weight as CoolSculpting won’t kill every single fat cell in the treated area and those that remain will continue to swell and shrink with weight changes. Some people choose to undergo multiple treatments or occasional follow-up “maintenance” treatments to maintain their results.
What Is Liposuction?
Liposuction is one of the most commonly performed aesthetic procedures in the world. It’s a surgical procedure that removes subcutaneous body fat. Using two small incisions, a cosmetic surgeon inserts a specialized tool called a cannula that uses suction power to remove fat from the area of treatment. Depending on the patient and the size of the area of treatment, a local or general anesthesia is used, while some patients even use full sedation. After the procedure, the small incisions are stitched up.
How Long Does the Procedure Take?
A liposuction procedure takes between one to two hours, depending on the patient. It’s usually done as an outpatient procedure, so you’ll be able to go home the same day you have it. Unlike with CoolSculpting however, you won’t be able to immediately resume normal activities.
How Long Is the Recovery Period?
The recovery time from liposuction is usually a few days, during which time you’ll likely have to wear a special bandage and limit physical activity. After that initial recuperation period, you can expect two to four further weeks in which you’ll be advised to avoid strenuous activity. Going to work is probably okay, but going to the gym will be off the menu for a while.
How Long Until I See My Liposuction Results?
You might think that because liposuction removes fat entirely, your results would show up pretty quickly. That, however, is not the case. The procedure causes swelling, so while the fat is gone, the inflamed tissue will take its place for a period of time. For some patients, it can take up to three months before their results become fully visible. That’s a similar timeframe for seeing your CoolSculpting results.
CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction: Which One Is Right for Me?
Whether you should choose CoolSculpting or Liposuction for your body contouring is all up to what you want to achieve. The results for both are similar: you can expect a noticeable reduction in fat in the treated area, and results will show up after about three months. Because both of these options deal in ridding the body of fat cells, the results are intended to be permanent.
Keep in mind that neither of these options is suitable for weight loss. Both are intended to be cosmetic. If you want to lose weight for health reasons, you should first speak to your physician about formulating a diet and exercise plan. Both are effective when it comes to sculpting and contouring the body, and the one that’s right for you will all depend on the results you’re looking for the experience you’re hoping to have.
If You Want to Target Small Pockets of Fat
CoolSculpting is great at targeting small areas of fat where it commonly collects, like in the love handles and thighs. The belly and even a double chin are also likely candidates for CoolSculpting, but the larger the area, the more treatments will be required.
If You’re Okay With Multiple Treatments
Many people who undergo CoolSculpting treatments choose to come back for further treatment to improve their results even more. Liposuction can remove more fat in a single sitting, with the tradeoff being that it’s an invasive surgical procedure as opposed to a non-invasive treatment. If you want to reduce the appearance of body fat more than 25% or want to treat a larger area, multiple CoolSculpting treatments may be necessary.
If You Want a Quick Recovery Period
CoolSculpting has zero recovery downtime, which means you’ll be able to stroll out of our offices and go right back to your normal routine. There may be some numbness and bruising in the treated area, but within a few days that will disappear and no one will be the wiser. Compare this to the lengthy recovery period required for liposuction and you’ll understand why so many Americans have been opting for non-invasive body sculpting treatments over going under the knife.
If You Want to Remove Larger Amounts of Fat
Liposuction is adept at removing fat from larger areas of the body, and more fat can be removed in a single liposuction procedure than in a single CoolSculpting procedure. In fact, up to five liters of fat can be removed in a single liposuction procedure before a patient has to remain overnight for monitoring and potential transfusion. Liposuction can, therefore, provide a more dramatic change in the contours of a patient’s body, but at the expense of invasive surgery and a much longer recovery period.
If You Have Good Skin Elasticity
People who go with liposuction for its ability to remove larger quantities of fat should have good skin elasticity. When that much fat is removed, patients with lax skin may see some sagging as the swelling subsides, whereas firmer skin will adapt and mold to the body’s new contours.
If You’re Okay With the Recovery Time
As we’ve mentioned before, liposuction has a much longer recovery period than CoolSculpting. If you work a job that requires strenuous physical activity, you may need to take at least two weeks off of work. Even if you work an office job, you may not be able to move around as you normally would. This downtime may be factored into the overall cost of the surgical procedure itself, which is already considerably higher than that of CoolSculpting.
Schedule a Consultation Today
As you can see, while the end results of liposuction and CoolSculpting are similar, the experiences are anything but. Both are effective, but neither is right for everybody. For most people though, a non-invasive outpatient body sculpting treatment with minimal recovery time, such as CoolSculpting, has a lot of benefits over liposuction. Contact us at Chetco Medical & Aesthetics in Brookings, OR to schedule your consultation today. We’re excited to meet you and help you make the right choice for your goals!