How Effective is Coolsculpting Compared to More Invasive Fat Removal Treatment Options?

Which parts of the body is coolsculpting recommended over liposuction just based on the results? Is it cost-effective to try a more conservative method before considering surgery?

Doctor Answers (13)

Cool Sculpting vs liposuction

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I have been impressed with how much fat reduction our patients can get after treatment with Cool Sculpting.  In some cases it is very close to surgical results.


Austin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

CoolSculpting Vs. Liposuction for Fat Removal

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                  Coolsculpting and liposuction are both excellent therapeutic options for managing localized fat collections. Both procedures offer advantages and the choice of procedure depends on a variety of factors.

                  Without pictures or a physical examination it’s hard to know which option is best for any given patient. In these cases, the location of the fat, is less important than the amount of fat and the patient’s aesthetic goals. When larger amounts of fat are present, liposuction will most likely yield a superior result. Unfortunately, this procedure may be associated with more pain and longer recoveries.

                  When smaller amounts of fat are present, excellent results can occur with coolsculpting with shorter recoveries and less pain in the post-operative period.

                  If you’re considering treatment of localized fat collections, consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon would be appropriate. This surgeon can advise you regarding which procedure is best for you. 

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Coolsculpting Compared to Liposuction

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Coolsculpting and liposuction are two very different techniques so patient’s need to select carefully in order to be satisfied with the result. Liposuction has been used since 1970. Simply explained the technique uses a cannula which is placed through a small incision and attached to a vacuum device. The vacuum and the motion of the cannula will displace fat cells which then are sucked into a cannister. Large volumes of fat can be removed with this technique and it is standard to achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in fat volume for nearly anywhere on the body. Patients with youthful, contractile skin which can redrape following the fat removal are the best candidates. Patients with non-elastic , stretched skin are not great liposuction candidates as their skin will not contour to the loss of fat volume and they are likely to develop irregular dips.

Coolsculpting is a nonsurgical technique using a device which cools select areas of the body most often the love handle area and the abdomen. The procedure takes one hour and there is no significant recovery time. Over the following 8 weeks, the patient will experience a 20 percent reduction in fat volume which is a more subtle change than what is achieve by liposuction. Patient’s must be realistic about the different degree of results achieved by these two techniques otherwise they risk being disappointed by the degree of change with Coolsculpting. Patients may also undergo Coolsculpting a second or third time in order to achieve a greater removal of fat.

Carlin Vickery, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

CoolSculpting vs liposuction

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CoolSculpting DOES work. Most healthy people with areas of stubborn, unwanted fat can achieve wonderful results with CoolSculpting

In my practice, we have incorporated two systems, in order to provide results in half the time as well as vibrational therapy and a compression garment for optimal results.  We believe this provides the best possible results for ideal candidates. But, not everyone is an ideal candidate for CoolSculpting.

For people with  ore than very limited areas of excess fat, liposuction migth be a better option. The only way to know for is to receive a consultation from a plastic surgery practice that offers both CoolSculpting and Liposuction

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

CoolSculpting Treatment

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Thank you for your question. CoolSculpting is not a weight loss solution for people who are obese, or a substitute for surgical methods such as liposuction. Good candidates have noticeable bulges in certain areas they’d like to get rid of. Your doctor will determine if treatment is right for you during a one-on-one consultation. Typically, each CoolSculpting treatment results in a noticeable reduction of fat in the treated area. After the initial treatment is complete, you can attain further reductions with additional treatments, resulting in even more fat loss. Some patients find that just one treatment fully addresses their goals. You and your doctor will discuss and design a plan that suits you best.

Daniel Shapiro, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 91 reviews

CoolSculpting vs Liposuction

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The answer to your question is more dependent on what you want to gain from the procedure.  CoolSculpting is really designed for those who have smaller pockets of stubborn fat that they want to eliminate non-invasively.  CoolSculpting cannot remove fat to the same degree that you will see with liposuction, but it's more cost effective, there's no incision, garment, or downtime, so many of our patients who either don't want surgery or don't have a schedule that allows for downtime prefer this easy 1-2 hour procedure.

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Non-invasive vs. Invasive Fat Removal

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Thank you for your question.

This is very patient specific.  If a patient needs multiple areas treated and wants a significant result, liposuction may be the answer.  If a patient has areas such as flanks and/or bra strap fat and does not want to undergo surgery, CoolSculpting is perfect for that patient.

Best Wishes!

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 682 reviews

Personal decision

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consider coolsculpting like liposuction lite.  the patients who are good candidates for lipo would be good candidates for coolsculpting.  that being said, some anatomic areas fit poorly in to the device and make treatment of these areas more difficult.  these are the lateral thighs, sometimes the upper arms and others.  some areas like these are better treated by liposuction.

Eric Chang, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

CoolSculpting vs liposuction

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Liposuction is more effective for a localized but significant abundance of fat than Zeltiq.  Liposuction is also more practical when there are multiple areas to treat as Zeltiq's CoolSculpting is designed for the lovehandles and abdomen currently, with other sites awaiting dedicated applicator manufacturing.  CoolSculpting can provide 20% fat volume reduction after four months, and liposuction more.  Some patients do not have much fat to remove and Zeltiq might be more practical and safer for them.  If there is a moderate bulge to remove with liposuction but the patient is not interested in surgery or has a medical history to warrant avoiding surgery, then CoolSculpting may be practical and effective. It eliminates the down time of liposuction.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

CoolSculpting and it's effectiveness

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Each CoolSculpting treatment generally results in a 20% reduction of fat, so more than one treatment may be required.  It is a non-invasive, non-surgical procedure that is ideal for smaller areas of exercise resistant fat i.e. the abdomen area and love handles.  If a patient has very large amounts of fat and wants to undergo a single procedure, Liposuction is likely the best choice.

There are advantages to CoolSculpting versus surgery and cost can certainly be one along with no downtime following the procedure.  I recommend a personal consultation with a board certified dermatologist to see if this treatment is right for you.

Lori Stetler, MD
Dallas Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.