What EXACTLY happen to the fat and how is it "eliminated" after CoolSculpting?

I understand cells are "destroyed & "eliminated naturally" but that doesn't answer the question:) HOW exactly ? Research revealed fat is reabsorbed into the bloodstream, but unless one decreases calories or goes for a run - won't that fat then be reabsorbed & (horror!) relocated, to let's say: my thighs, if I don't burn it off? I'm worried I'll end up w/ a fat neck! If I now have to run miles to prevent reabsorption of "released fat"... isn't that what I should have done to begin with? Groan....

Doctor Answers 20

What happens to the fat and how it's eliminated after Cool Sculpting

Coolsculpting permanently removes body fat. The process “grabs and holds” bulges of body fat with a suction applicator then cools the deep tissue to temperatures that result in death of fat cells which are far more sensitive to the low temperatures than the other tissues of the body.Skin, blood vessels, and healthy muscle fibers are preserved.The term for this specific programed cell death is “cryolipolysis” from the prefix “cryo” that means “cold” and the word “lypolysis” which means “breakdown of fat”. All destroyed components of the cell are taken up and eliminated through the lymph system and permanently eliminated.Fat is not reabsorbed. The treatment results in fat reduction in targeted areas and the re-sculpting of the anatomy.

Mercer Island Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Coolsculpting Technology

A Coolsculpting treatment uses a method called cryolipolysis (fat freezing) once the fat is frozen it goes through apoptosis (programmed cell death). This usually occurs a few days after your procedure and is aided by the immediate post treatment massage.

After fat cells die, your body naturally consumes the affected cells so they can be filtered and excreted by the body. Since the fat cell is dead there is no way that it can be relocated to another area.

The process of elimination of the affected cells from your body generally takes about 3-4 months to complete, and is the same process that eliminated fat goes through as if it was burned off with exercise. Immediately after treatment you can be swollen for up to 2 weeks and many patients start seeing the initial improvement starting 3 weeks after their treatment.

A Coolsculpting treatment destructs about 20% of the fat in the treated area; sometimes multiple treatments in the same area are necessary for the best results.

It is best to consult with a Board Certified Dermatologist to see if this is the appropriate treatment for you.

For more information click on link below:

Nissan Pilest, MD
Irvine Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Fat Cells

During the procedure, exposure to cooling causes fat cell apoptosis, which leads to the release of cytokines and other inflammatory mediators. Inflammatory cells gradually digest the affected fat cells in the months after the procedure. Lipids from the fat cells are slowly released and transported by the lymphatic system to be processed, much like fat from food. Because the lipid clearance process is gradual there is no harmful change in blood lipids or liver function. The fat will not be reabsorbed or go to another part of your body.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

The fat destroyed during CoolSculpting is removed gradually and safely via the lymphatics, and eliminated in the feces & urine.

Dear writer, After the process of CoolSculpting is completed, the lipid contained inside the cells is gradually removed via the lymphatic system and then eliminated (as fat normally is) through the feces and urine. The process of fat removal may take weeks to months, which in fact makes the CoolSculpting process very safe in terms of how the levels of lipid in blood are maintained with this treatment. We were part of a multi-center study that checked what happened to the triglyceride and cholesterol levels at 1 week, 4 weeks, 8 weeks and 12 weeks after CoolSculpting. There was no significant change in such levels after the CoolSculpting treatment, confirming the safety of this procedure. 

Leyda Elizabeth Bowes, MD
Miami Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Coolsculpting and mechanism of action

Coolsculpting is an amazing technique where the fat cells are decreased through the science of  cooling these fat cells so that they undergo cell death. These cells are then released through the body via the kidneys. The fat does not move or get absorbed by another area of the body. Please consult a board certified dermatologist who has many years of experience with coolsculpting for the best cosmetic results. 

Michele S. Green, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 76 reviews


Coolsculpting induces programmed cell death by selectively freezing fat cells. The dead cells are cleared by specialized cells in your body. This is a normal process as many types of cells are replaced constantly within your body. The dead cells are ingested by these cells and are cleared away. 

Suzanne Kim Doud Galli, MD, PhD, FACS
Washington Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

How does Coolsculpting work?

Coolsculpting works by freezing fat cells. A certain number of these fat cells that are cooled will undergo cell death. The are naturally broken down and eliminated by the body. The fat will not be reabsorbed or go to another part of your body.

Sanjiv Kayastha, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

How Coolsculpting works to reduce fat.

This is a great question. First, the Coolsculpting procedure, known as cryolipolysis in the medical community, has a tremendous amount of research behind it. This procedure was developed by two Harvard dermatologists that have also developed the majority of laser and device treatments that are currently on the market today. To answer your question, Coolsculpting triggers a process known as apoptosis which is the programmed cell death of fat cells. Following apoptosis, the body naturally resorbs the fat cells and its constituents over several weeks. There are studies that show there is no change in blood lipids in the post treatment period. Also there are no reports of fat going to other body parts and you should feel rest assured because there have been over a million treatments done. 

Omar Ibrahimi, MD, PhD
Stamford Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

How is fat eliminated after CoolSculpting?

The fat cells that are destroyed as a result of CoolSculpting are eliminated by cells in the body known as macrophages.  The fat does not travel in the bloodstream to end up somewhere else on the body.  

Michael I. Echavez, MD
San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

CoolSculpting Process

The CoolSculpting® procedure is a non-invasive procedure that is intended to change the appearance of the treatment area by delivering controlled cooling to target and destroy fat cells at the surface of the skin to break down fat cells that are just beneath the skin. . The treated fat cells are crystalized (frozen) body naturally processes the fat and eliminates these dead cells which are gone for good. Results can be seen as early as 3 weeks but the optimal results are seen in between 1-3 months.  

Jessica Glenn, MD
Howell Family Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

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.