Why are procedures like coolsculping NOT for the overweight or obese?

Lots of doctors say "This procedure isn't for weight loss" but I have never seen further explanation on different scenarios. For instance, let's say an obese or overweight person meets virtually the same qualifications you ask of your normal weight patients (eg. near their ideal goal weight, has kept steady weight, generally no health issues and not looking to use the procedure for weight loss but instead what its meant for, sculpting. Why or why not would this person be a good candidate?

Doctor Answers 12

Cool Sculpting in Overweight Client

The reason for this statement in my opinion is that cool sculpting has limitations on what would give a person a visible and positive outcome. Each treatment costs anywhere from $750-$1500 per cycle and if a client is not at or near their healthy height and weight you could literally be treating areas several times over and still not get a visible result. You could be spending thousands of dollars on a treatment which would still not make you happy which just isn't the right thing to do. Hope this helps. 

Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

CoolSculpting for the Overweight and Obese patient

Dear atsukosmiles:Your argument is correct! Many of our overweight and obese patients are very pleased, even ecstatic using CoolSculpting, a non-surgical option to reduce localized fat to fit their clothes better and therefore feel better themselves.Our larger patients have used CoolSculpting (CS) in several ways:
  1. Motivation to weight loss
  2. fit in their arms into shirts and jackets without customizing their clothes
  3. fit into jeans around the waist / muffin top and inner thighs and knees
  4. highly successful improvement of the double chin, jawline and jowls
These are some of the areas improved, others come in monthly a slower but steadier correction. All patients are counseled in lifestyle changes including diet and exercise.  Find a capable and friendly Certified CoolSculpting Team to discuss your options. All the best!

Dean P. Kane, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Wellness plans

I would not rule out CoolSculpting for someone who is overweight but someone who is overweight or obese runs the risk of not seeing the result they may have been looking for. If surgery is not an option, there are some physicians who have wellness plans that you can pair with CoolSculpting to help with with weight loss and body contouring. 

Peter J. Capizzi, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 84 reviews

Coolsculpting for the Obese?

While obese or overweight persons are not immediately ruled out, the procedure has limitations. Coolsculpting works excellently for pinchable fat. However, it is not significantly beneficial for intra-abdominal fat or loose skin which are issues many obese or overweight persons face. Moreover, the most common judge of results is comparison of photo from before and after treatment. Visualization of results after only treatment is poor for obese or overweight patient. Therefore, the physician or center is open to criticism that no results have been seen for the obese or overweight patient.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 40 reviews


Coolsculpting is an excellent form of non-invasive  fat reduction for the right patient. Some applicators take 1 or 2 hours but the new advantage applicators take only 35 minutes and have significantly less risk for delayed onset pain (especially in the abdomen). Results are seen at 2 months and typically 1-3 treatments will be necessary on each area to achieve ideal results. The number of treatments depends on the amount of fat there and the patient's goals.  There is not downtime and the results can be impressive in the right patient.  We also use the Zimmer Z-wave for improved patient comfort and added results. The best candidates are those who are in pretty good shape with areas of stubborn fat that won't go away no matter what. There are two types of fat in the body(visceral and subcutaneous fat). Subcutaneous is under the skin and coolsculpting can destroy it. The visceral fat is around the organ and exercise can help get rid of it.    

My best,

Sheila Nazarian, MD, MMM

Beverly Hills, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

Sheila S. Nazarian, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Candidates for CoolSculpting

Great candidates for CoolSculpting are typically within 30 lbs of their ideal weight and wanting to address pinchable areas of fat in order to contour their body. Ideal is variable from person to person, but the results may not be as effective for some patients. Whether CoolSculpting is the right procedure for a patient depends on the his or her unique goals and is determined at a consultation appointment. CoolSculpting is not an alternative for weight loss as many patients may not even lose weight. Specific bulges of fat are able to be reduced by 25% incrementally, and this may not be evident on a scale. Consult a board-certified plastic surgeon on the procedure that would be best for you to achieve your aesthetic goal. Good luck!

Tom S. Liu, MD, MBA
Los Gatos Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Coolsculpting for overweight or obese people?

Thank you for your question; coolsculpting has limitations and that may be the reason why certain people may not be a good candidate for the procedure. Coolsculpting works on subcutaneous fat or what we call “pinchable fat” and not the fat the surrounds organs (visceral fat). This is also not a procedure that will help tighten loose skin, which can occur form an obese person losing a lot of weight. A consult is warranted to see if the desire outcome is something that can be achieved with coolsculpting alone, or is surgical option needed.

Steven H. Dayan, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

CoolSculpting vs SculpSure and HI DEF 4D CONTOURING

Non invasive options like coolsculpting and sculpsure only do a 20% improvement at most during a single treatment. They do not work well for those overweight as they are contouring procedures.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 190 reviews

Why are procedures like coolsculpting not for the overweight or obese?

With Coolsculpting and other body contouring procedures the best results are usually seen on patients that are not obese , but  have certain fat deposits that they cannot get rid off despite dieting and exercise.  Each coolsculpting treatment reduces the pinchable fat bulge by 25%. This could be significant in a non obese person, but might not be impressive in a person who has a very large bulge. It would require multiple treatments and therefore may be very time consuming and expensive till the desired effect is achieved.

Daniela Dadurian, MD
West Palm Beach Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Coolsculpting is not for obese people

The problem is that with larger patients, the removal of fat with Coolsculpting can result in a "shark bite" appearance. Meaning, a small portion of fat is gone, surrounded by the initial large amounts of fat. It won't look better and becomes a hard problem to fix. Multiple more applications will be needed to get the surrounding fat to match the "bite". A much better option for larger patients is the Vanquish. This has a larger applicator and tends to "feather" the sides of the treatment, meaning the edges are gradually faded into the remaining fat. The link explains this more.

Steven F. Weiner, MD
Panama City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 41 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.