Article by Adam David Lowenstein, MD, FACS
Santa Barbara Plastic Surgeon
CoolSculpting is a non-invasive modality that uses freezing of fat, called cryotherapy, to cause fat cells in your body to be eliminated. When fat cells are subjected to low temperature, ice crystals form inside which cause a chain reaction that eventually leads to the death of the fat cell. When treating a fat bulge with CoolSculpting in Santa Barbara, you should expect about 25% of an improvement with each treatment. Most patients find that a single treatment provides undeniable results and often this is all that is required. Because CoolSculpting induces a chain reaction at the cellular level, results from CoolSculpting appear gradually over the course of six to eight weeks.
The advantage of CoolSculpting over liposuction is the non-invasive nature of this treatment. There is no down time, no compression garments to wear, and no restriction on physical activity or exercise. The disadvantage lies in the degree to which CoolSculpting reduces fat with a single treatment. While a liposuction patient can expect to have evacuation of up to 90% of the treated fat removed at the time of surgery, non-invasive CoolSculpting results with a single treatment usually reflect a 25% improvement, though multiple CoolSculpting treatments are an option to non-invasively approach liposuction results.
Who is a candidate for CoolSculpting?
The ideal CoolSculpting patient is generally fit and within 10-20 pounds of his or her ideal body weight. Similarly to liposuction, the best situation for CoolSculpting involves healthy overlying skin with good elasticity. CoolSculpting is not a means of weight loss. CoolSculpting treats discrete pockets of fat that often are resistant to diet and exercise. CoolSculpting is commonly performed in the following areas:
flanks or love handles
back in the area of the bra region
How is CoolSculpting Performed?
Because CoolSculpting is a noninvasive and office based procedure, no operating room is required, and no anesthesia is involved. Before you arrive at the office, you will be asked to wear loose, comfortable clothing. When you do arrive at Montecito Plastic Surgery, you will be escorted to the CoolSculpting room where you will be marked for CoolSculpting treatment.
After marking, a cool gel pad will be placed over the area to be treated with CoolSculpting. This gel provides two functions: it protects the skin from damage and also aids in transmission of the cold temperature to the tissue. Following the gel pad, the CoolSculpting applicator will be applied. As the CoolSculpting machine has several applicators to treat different areas of the body, an individualized choice of CoolSculpting applicator will be utilized.
When the CoolSculpting applicator is applied, you should expect a pulling sensation that the Doctor likens to “being grabbed a little harder that you would like to be grabbed.” It is very infrequent that this sensation is felt to be strong enough to be problematic. Following applicator placement, you will be asked to lie back on a comfortable exam chair where pillows and blankets will be arranged to make sure that you are comfortable for the hour long treatment. The freezing mechanism of the CoolSculpting machine will then be engaged, and the area that is being treated will become numb. Interestingly, patients never complain of general coldness during CoolSculpting treatment- the freezing is localized to the area of therapy.
You may bring your work or a book or iPod with you, or you may use our iPad to read magazines, surf the web, or watch a movie. We do suggest you bring your own headphones for your treatment.
Following an hour treatment, the freezing will be halted and applicator will be removed. At this time you will notice what feels like a frozen area of fat, similar in consistency to a frozen stick of butter, in the area that has been treated. Vigorous massage of the area will follow, performed by our experienced staff, which re-establishes warmth and blood flow to the area of CoolSculpting treatment.
As many of our patients will have more than one area treated in a single day, a short bathroom break may be taken before the next area is marked and the process is repeated in a subsequent area of CoolSculpting treatment. Up to 6 areas of CoolSculpting can easily be accommodated in a single visit to the office should you wish to treat several areas, or multiple areas can be treated over several different visits if this is more accommodating for your schedule.
Expectations after CoolSculpting
There is little in the way of postoperative instructions following CoolSculpting because of the non-invasive nature of the treatment. There is no surgical garment necessary and you can return to any physical activity or exercise immediately. There is likely to be some bruising in the area treated as well as some numbness and tingling which can last a week or two.
Few patients complain of significant pain, and when this does happen it is most often following treatment of the abdominal area. This rare discomfort has been described as a feeling of bloating or of cramping or as if the patient had done 100 sit-ups. The discomfort is significantly diminished as compared to discomfort following surgery and has always gone away in the course of a few short days.
The results from CoolSculpting are usually seen best after a period of six to eight weeks. You will return after approximately 8 weeks for your postoperative photos, and an assessment of your progress. As with any procedure performed, the staff remain available to you for questions at any time following your CoolSculpting procedure.