Long-term Effects of Coolsculpting?

I'm seriously considering getting Coolsculpting done on my love handles and stomach. I've read up on it, but can someone explain to me why it only damages the fat cells and nothing else? And also, does it ever come out "lumpy?" I'm worried about long-term side effects. Also, are the results more dramatic or thinner people or those with more weight to remove? Thanks :)

Doctor Answers 26

The long-term effects of Coolsculpting

CoolSculpting is an FDA-cleared and patented procedure using a targeted cooling process that selectively targets and kills the fat cells underneath the skin.  CoolSculpting technology safely delivers precisely controlled cooling to gently and effectively target the fat cells underneath the skin. Only fat cells are damaged, leaving your healthy skin cells intact. The treated fat cells are crystallized (frozen), then die. Over time, your body naturally processes the fat and eliminates these dead cells. CoolSculpting is non-surgical, so typically you can return to a normal routine after the session is over.

Portland Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Long Term Effects of CoolSculpting?

To date there are no long term negative effects of CoolSculpting.The reason it only damages fat cells is that fat cells will freeze at higher temperature than other tissues. The reason the other tissues such as skin, nerves and blood vessels are not frozen at these same temperatures are that they are water based.   The device carefully controls the cooling process so that the temperatures achieved are such that the only the fat will freeze but are above the freezing point of other tissues inside the applicator. Regarding your second question, CoolSculpting gives a very NATURAL looking reduction without issues of lumpiness nor hanging excess skin. Finally, the ideal patient is the one who is close to their ideal weight with moderate to small bulges.  However, that is not to say that the procedure does not work in larger individuals.  As with all procedures proper expectations are critical.  I have treated individuals who are less than ideal and they have been extemely gratified by their results.  One does have to ensure that they understand that complete elimination of their bulge will not happen and if desired multiple procedures can be performed for additional fat reduction.  Having accepted this, they are more than thrilled to produce undeniable results with one treatment that does not require any surgery, needles, anesthesia nor downtime!  

Ted Brezel, MD
Long Island Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Why does cool sculpting work

Fat is more sensitive to cooling than other tissues. Fat turns solid (freezes) at a lower temperature than the water that is in the other cells. It is possible for the result to be lumpy. That is why you should look for someone with experience and good results.  

Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
Los Gatos Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Long-term Effects of Coolsculpting

I have been using coolsculpting in my practice for many years and have seen no long term side effects with this procedure.  The results that you can expect are 25% of a given area (bulge) reduced in the area treated.  This procedure is not a weight loss device and not meant for obese patients.  Coolsculpting is a very safe and highly effective non-invasive procedure.

Long-tern effects of Coolsculpting

Coolsculpting offers permanent fat cell reduction.  When done properly by a trained physician, I would say the chances of developing lumpiness is low - but possible.  I would make sure you feel confident in your provider's ability to assess and develop a customized plan for you.  We were the first plastic surgery practice in greater Houston to adopt Coolsculpting and I see patients before they have their treatment to ensure their suitability.

How CoolSculpting works.

CoolSculpting is the fastest growing and most pervasive FDA approved treatment for the noninvasive reduction of subcutaneous fat. In order to understand how the patented cryolipolysis process works to destroy fat without damaging skin, muscles, nerves, etc.. we must first understand that fat freezes at a warmer temperature than water. The majority of our bodies are made of water as we learned as children in science class this includes the structures mentioned above with the exception of fat which is lipid based. Imagine what happens when you put a container of chicken soup in the refrigerator. The fat separates and freezes at the surface. CoolSculpting is taking advantage of this same principle by taking the tissue into and applicator and then bringing down the temperature to one that freezes fat but not water. I have actually had the treatment myself and have been quite impressed with the results on my flanks as well as lower and upper abdomen. To speak to your question about lumpiness, it is imperative that you seek treatment from a provider that has attended CoolSculpting University as the results can be somewhat provider specific as applicator selection and placement can impact the results.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

CoolSculpting Long Term Effects

CoolSculpting was developed by scientists at Harvard University. This unique, FDA-cleared and patented procedure uses a targeted cooling process that selectively targets and kills the fat cells underneath the skin, literally freezing them to the point of elimination. Only fat cells are frozen, leaving your healthy skin cells intact. The crystalized fat cells gradually die off and then are naturally eliminated from your body. Using a process called Cryolipolysis, it targets ONLY fat cells, which is why the surrounding tissue is not damaged. In the weeks and months following the treatment, the remaining fat cells condense thus reducing the fat layer. CoolSculpting is completely non-surgical, so typically you can return to normal activities immediately. Some patients experience redness, minor bruising, tingling, numbness and /or discomfort in the treated area which can last several weeks, but these are transient and will resolve. Patients typically return to their normal routine after the session is over. Generally, the treatment works best on individuals who have a bit of 'stubborn' fat that is resistant to diet or exercise and is not suited for individuals with a lot of weight to lose.

Mary Hurley, MD
Dallas Dermatologist
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Long-term Effects of Coolsculpting?

Cool sculpting selectively damages the fat cells and spares the overlying skin based upon the cooling temperature and length of treatment. The machine settings are science based and approved by the FDA. We have seen no cases of lumpiness in areas treated nor any long term side effects. The results are more dramatic if you have smaller areas to treat and are otherwise fit. See a board certified plastic surgeon for a consultation and treatment plan.

Richard Chaffoo, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Lasting results for unwanted stubborn fat

Zeltiq (CoolSculpting) provides a non-invasive approach to decreasing that unwanted stubborn fat that we just can't get rid of. It does not provide the same results as liposuction but it also is not invasive and has no downtime.

Ava Shamban, MD
Santa Monica Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Safety & Long Term Effects of CoolSculpting

A.  When it comes to reading reviews and comments about CoolSculpting online you should factor in a number of variables. 
1.  Who is performing the treatment.  Skill, experience, and esthetic eye all make a big difference.  There is a lot more than just applying the applicator and letting it go to work.  There is a lot of treatment planning, mapping, and following results.  Areas may need to be treated again. 
2.  There are counterfeit CoolSculpting machines sold and used by many of the practices offering CoolSculpting in the U.S.  Why?  Because it costs much less.  Results are unpredictable, inferior, and often times result in complications.

B.  How it works
1.  CoolSculpting freezes fat cells causing apoptosis, slow cell death.  The fat leaks out of the cells and gets excreted from the body.  This effect is permanent.  Studies have shown that this doesn't damage surrounding non fat cells such as skin, muscle, and nerves.
2.  Lumpiness:  this is rarely seen when the procedure is performed properly.  If gaps are left between the applicator placement, you could get an area that bulges.  Treating over that untreated area will leave a smooth result.  The key is to have some overlap in the treatment areas to avoid this from happening.

C.  Who is a better candidate, skinny or heavier people?
1.  Heavier patients:  Results are quite dramatic and can come close to liposuction results especially when second treatments are performed over the same area.  You even get some skin tightening much like in our SmartLipo patients
2.  Skinnier patients.  We see great results.  They typically have trouble areas they cant lose with exercise such as love handles in men.  Losing those extra 3 to 5 pounds often creates a gaunt facial appearance- the face pays the price.  CoolSculpting can finish the job so that excessive weight loss and dieting is not required in fit people. 

Ran Y. Rubinstein, MD
200 Stony Brook Court, Newburgh, New York

Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon (ABFPRS)
American Society forLaser Medicine & Surgery (ASLMS)
Clinical Professor New York Presbyterian Hospital
National Education Faculty (physician trainer) for:
Allergan (Botox, Juvederm, Voluma), Galderma (Scultpra, Restylane, Silk),
Cynosure (Cellulaze, Precision Laser Lift) & Solta (Fraxel, Thermage)
Zeltiq( CoolSculpting)

Ran Y. Rubinstein, MD
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 143 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.