CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction


Many men and women have areas on their bodies they would like to change. With so many options out there, it can be tough to figure out which contouring procedure is best for you. There are many factors that may influence your decision. A few of these factors include but are not limited to your time frame, budget and which procedure you’re actually a candidate. Dr. Moenster receives many questions from her patients about body contouring and their options. Many people want to know what the difference is between CoolSculpting and Liposuction. Dr. Jamie Moenster took some time out of her day to discuss her patient’s body contouring options.

What is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is a procedure that uses cryolipolysis for the destruction of fat cells in a certain area of the body, by freezing the cells. The cells will denature and die, the fat is reabsorbed through the body and then excreted through your human waste. A CoolSculpting treatment will take about 60 minutes. The price varies with an average of one area ranging from $1500-$2000. During the treatment, patients can expect there to be some coolness, redness and numbness of the skin which are pretty self-limiting. After the treatment, it can take three weeks to two months to see full results. The results typically are mild to moderate and are best in patients with not a lot of excess skin or excess fatty deposits. The treatments can be repeated. This increases the amount of fat cells which are destroyed, but again there’s a cost for a secondary treatment.

Are there other options?

Other options aside from CoolSculpting are procedures like Zerona. Zerona is a low level laser light therapy. This treatment is typically done over 6 full treatments in a two week time period. It requires you to increase your water intake, decrease your fat intake and to exercise. Again, this procedure produces minimal results. It can take up to 2 inches off of one’s waist, however the average is usually less than 2 inches to the waist. Many other treatments are available that use radio frequency or ultrasound to open and destroy the fat cell and then absorb and excrete them.

Traditional liposuction is a surgical procedure where fat is suctioned from the area with a local or general anesthesia and tumescent solution. The fat that is removed will never return. Larger amounts of fat can be taken to ensure elimination of a majority the fat from this area. This also allows for physician guided contouring of the area in question to make a nice, controlled shape. The cryolipolysis and Zerona are more defuse without the ability to specifically contour a certain region. It is a more non-discriminatory fat reduction option. With liposuction, up to 6 liters can be removed at any one time and this can add up to multiple inches off. The disadvantage to liposuction is there is some associated down time, but again the advantage is that it is long term with highly accurate results.

Dr. Moensters Recommendation

My recommendation is to be evaluated by a physician who performs or is very knowledgeable about both surgical and potentially non-surgical options. Most of the non-surgical options like CoolSculpting and Zerona are performed by non-plastic surgeons or doctors who do not do any other type of fat reduction procedures. When consulting with your physician you want to make sure you get an idea of:

What are the expected outcomes and results?
What complications may occur?
What is the time frame for these procedures?
Will repeated treatments be necessary and if so, what are the costs?

Most patients with focal fat deposits would benefit from liposuction. People seeking very small, minimal reduction in fat deposits may benefits from some of the non-surgical options. But again, these are minimal changes in comparison with body contouring procedures like liposuction. If you have an excessive amount of skin, larger procedures such as an abdominoplasty, brachioplasty or medial thigh lift may be required. Cost comparison varies depending on the treatment area. Typically if you’re looking at two treatments of the non-surgical option, it can be pretty equivalent to a single treatment of one area of liposuction. A recent study that was posted in the ASMLS showed that after two treatments of CoolSculpting to the flanks (love handle area), there was a 40% change by the observers. This was less than 2 inches on a tape measure from the waist after the 2 treatments. So again, minimal results but minimal downtime.

My best recommendation is that you have a consultation with a physician who is board certified plastic surgeon who can explain the risks, benefits and alternatives for both surgical and non-surgical options for fat reduction.

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Tucson Plastic Surgeon