CoolSculpting, laser lipolysis, or liposuction?

Hi, I'm curious about the fat reducing procedures available (laser lipolysis, cool sculpting, or liposuction). I'm 27, 5'5" , 125 lb. I work out everyday, and have a relatively athletic body (about 20-22% body fat). However, there are still problem areas (my hips, inner thighs, lower abs). I want noticeable results relatively quickly (or as quickly as possible), but prefer a procedure that is safe and will not cause me to miss too many workouts. Which do you recommend? Thanks.

Doctor Answers 11

Options for reducing fat

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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. This happens over a period of time, so the body is not overwhelmed with dead fat cells. The body will take these cells up, process them and excrete them, just as any other cell. The remnants are filtered through the liver, and then excreted eventually via stool. CoolSculpting now has an applicator for thighs.  CoolSculpting had been used in this area with good results. See an experienced CoolSculpting practice, they will determine if you are a candidate.  Best to see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.  They will be able to tell you of the different options, (CoolSculpting, Liposuction, Direct excision, etc.).

Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

CoolSculpting, laser lipolysis, or liposuction?

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Thank you for your question. It is difficult to tell which procedure is best for you without assessing you. I would recommend seeing a board certified plastic surgeon for a consultation. This way, you can explain your concerns, learn more about the procedures, and determine which one fits you best. An in-person assessment is always best. Regards,

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 518 reviews

Options for Reducing Unwanted Fat

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There are many options to reduce fat and contour the body.  Liposuction is the most common surgical method whereas, there are many nonsurgical options available.  Some of the nonsurgical methods include nonthermal UltraShape, CoolSculpt, thermal Sculpture and Liposonix.  It's recommended to be evaluated by physician to discuss your options.

Craig Mezrow, MS, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon

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CoolSculpting, laser lipolysis, or liposuction?

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Dear MayaRamos,

Thank you for your clinical post. At SpaMedica we have specialized in both the art and excellence of liposuction surgery as well as non-surgical liposuction techniques. We have CoolSculpting (which freezes the fat cell to permanently reduce it), UltraShape, which uses ultrasound waves to accomplish the same lethal destruction of the fat cell, BodyFX, which uses electroporation permanent fat reduction and finally the newest member of our non-surgical liposuction multi laser and light family, the SculpSure. The SculpSure uses multiple applicator- sustained hyperthermia of the fat cell to elicit their demise.

Having performed non-surgical liposuction techniques, CoolSculpting, UltraShape, BodyFX and SculpSure for many years it is important to be realistic. You are the perfect candidate for these types of techniques as you have tried diet and exercise. Focal areas of fat that are more than 2 inch or 4 cm pinch can be treated with non-surgical techniques. Non-surgical techniques are excellent at reducing 22-30% of the fat in the pinch area and 2-3 cm of circumferential reduction. It is important to note there will be some residual fat in the area and if this bothers you and you want the best possible result then surgically removing fat is your best option.

The surgical removing techniques including BodyTite, SmartLipo and Vaser Lipo are high-tech modern techniques that gently coagulate, liquefy the fat and then remove it. The advantage of these techniques unlike older more primitive traditional liposuction techniques is that you can get up to 30% area contraction to ensure tight skin as well as the best contour. In the final analysis I always tell patients liposuction is a way to get the perfect result by removing just the right amount of fat in areas that you may be a candidate. Non-surgical techniques are good at consistently reducing fat, but not removing it to the extent you might have wanted to achieve. The advantage of the non-surgical techniques is there are virtually no significant risks.

I hope this information is of some assistance and best of luck.

To find out more, please visit the link below.

R. Stephen Mulholland, M.D.
Certified Plastic Surgeon
Yorkville, Toronto

R. Stephen Mulholland, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 101 reviews

CoolSculpting, laser lipolysis, or liposuction?

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Hi and thanks for your question. Without an examination and review of photos it's not really possible to give medical advice. However, coolsculpting sounds as if it might be the best option for you as it's non-invasive and has no recovery (and least likely to interfere with you workout regimen). 

Richard Chaffoo, MD, FACS, FICS
Triple Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

Several options

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Liposuction is invasive and more often used for larger fat removal areas.
Coolsculpting and Sculpsure are used for smaller diet resistant fat pads.
Your doctor can help you decide between these options
Sculpsure is the fastest treatment as it takes only about 25 minutes.

Coolsculpting versus other ways to reduce Fat

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Coolsculpting is a fabulous and safe and effective way for you to reduce fat in a given area.  The results take up to 4 months to see and more than one treatment may be necessary.  However, if you are looking for effective results with little or no down time and the ability to go directly back to work then you should look into Coolsculpting.  Best, Dr. Green

CoolSculpting, laser lipolysis, or liposuction?

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CoolSculpting, laser lipolysis, and traditional liposuction all work.  You have to decide what is right for you. Coolsculpting his noninvasive, no surgery or incisions are needed, recovery is quick, and you could go right back to your workouts without missing any time.  However, it does take some time to see results, sometimes even a couple months and several sessions.  It works for people who don't want to miss a day from their workouts and/or are afraid of having surgery.
Laser lipolysis and traditional lipo will give you immediate results, more fat can be removed and more precise contouring and sculpting is possible.   However, it does involve a procedure and some recovery time. Usually two days of work and two weeks from workouts.

You have to figure out what works best for you.  Both are safe as long as they're being performed by a board certified plastic surgeon.  It is also important to see someone who can give you all the options. Many offices only offer CoolSculpting or only SmartLipo, or liposuction which are all great but each have their limitations.  If the office only offers you one option during the consultation, then of course they will tell you that is the best and only one.  You know the saying, "when you only have a hammer…"

Adam Hamawy, MD
Princeton Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Non-Invasive Fat Reduction vs Liposuction

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It really depends on your priorities and the amount of fat need to be removed.  Liposuction currently is still the most effective approach but it does have possible complications and some variability in results, often related to the physician's expertise.  The non-invasive fat reducting machines such as Coolsculpt and the newer and less proven SculptSure do remove about 25% of the fat with one treatment, with results in two months improving for up to 4 months.  The fat is permanently removed.  When you are fit and have very localized areas of fat, I'm in favor of the less aggressive, less effective and sometimes more expensive Coolsculpting type machines.  In the right patient it works well and has some but few potential side effects.  Often a patient on the lower abdomen may end up with two treatments to be fully satisfied, so a patient needs to be accepting of this possibility.    Of course, this increases the cost.  Factor in this as you sound as though you will need three applicators, one of them for the outer thighs is more expensive if you use CoolSculpt.  With all the caveats though, I have seen very good results with Coolsculpt if cost is not the patient's number one concern.

Christopher Dannaker, DO, FAAD
Monterey Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 5 reviews


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Hi.  Great question!  It would be difficult to say which procedure is best for you and your desired results without seeing you in person.  I recommend making an appointment with a board certified plastic surgeon who specialized in body contouring with liposuction and CoolSculpting.  Based on what you described it does sound like you would be a great candidate for CoolSculpting.  CoolSculpting is perfect for people who are either at, or very close to their ideal body weight.  It delivers permanent results with little to no down time.  You can expect to be sore from the treatment for about 2 weeks but you can resume your workouts the very same day as you are treated.  Best of luck to you in your physical transformation!

Peter J. Capizzi, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 93 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.