After coolsculpting, at what point do the fat cells die? Directly during/after treatment, or later?

With Coolsculpting, do the fat cells die immediately after the treatment and are cleared by the inflammatory process over several weeks? Or do they die over a period of several weeks?

Doctor Answers 12

When do fat cells die during CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting has FDA approval for fat reduction since 2010. CoolSculpting freezes the fat cells. Fat cells are more susceptible to damage by freezing than the other cells, (nerve, vessel, bone, etc.), around them. The fat cells die via a process called apoptosis, (programmed cell death). The number of fat cells are therefore reduced. The body will take these cells up, process them and excrete them, just as any other cell. Yes, the remnants are filtered through the liver, and then excreted eventually via stool.

Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews


I appreciate your question.

It takes 3 months to see the final results
The best way to assess and give true advice would be an in-person exam.
Please see a board-certified plastic surgeon that specializes in aesthetic and restorative plastic surgery.

best of luck!

Dr Schwartz

Jaime S. Schwartz, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 91 reviews

After coolsculpting, at what point do the fat cells die? Directly during/after treatment, or later?

Thanks for your question. Around 25% of the fat cells in the treated area will die immediately after your treatment. It takes 4 months for all of the cells to be flushed from your body. If you have a moderate amount of fat you can be treated again around 1 month of your first treatment. 

Brian C. Reuben, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

When Do Fat Cells Die After CoolSculpting?

With CoolSculpting, the fat cells are irreversibly frozen until the point of cell death. They slowly die off through your lymphatic system. The cell death starts immediately after the treatment and will continue for 2-3 month. We recommend you retreat the area at 4 weeks for the best results. This will give you double the amount of fat reduction. The reason you want to retreat at 4 weeks is that the cells that haven't died off at this point are injured and doing a second round will kill them as well as injure more cells to die off. I hope this helps.

Shelena Lalji, MD
Sugar Land OB/GYN
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Coolsculpting and fat cells

Coolsculpting is a fabulous procedure that reduces fat in a given area by 25% with only a single one hour treatment in that area.  The fat cells die after the treatment and slowly are excreted from the body over the next few months. That is why it can take up until 4 months to see the full effect of the treatment.

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

When do fat cells die after CoolSculpting?

Thank you for your question. Fat cells die soon after the treatment is complete. It takes the body approx. 3 months to eliminate them from the body. 

Sincerely Yours,

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 457 reviews

Apoptosis after Cryolipolysis

The fat cells are traumatized by the cold temperature and start a genetically pre-programmed self destruction sequence called apoptosis immediately after the treatment is finished. The process by which the cells break apart and are disposed of by the body generally takes 2-4 months. By catching the second treatment 30 days after the first many of the cells that were shocked but did not die succumb and the efficacy of the treatment can be doubled.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

Cell death timeline

The cells begin to die soon after treatment and continue to do so up to 2-3 months.  This is why I wait to re-treat for 8 weeks.  If you wait, some patients won't need the second treatment, which saves them time and money...

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

CoolSculpting and Cell Death, Fat Removal

Cells die after 1-2 hours of the application and take 3 months to see the final outcome.  Best, Dr. Emer.

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

Fat Cell Death During CoolSculpting

During CoolSculpting, fat cells are irreversibly frozen until the point of cell death. This process is begun once your treatment is complete. Each application takes 1-2 hours depending on the type of applicator used. Once the treatment is complete, your body's natural processes then take over to eliminate the dead fat cells. This usually takes three months. That's why the results are not immediate.

Michael A. Zadeh, MD, FACS
Sherman Oaks General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 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.