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CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction: Here’s the Skinny

Do you still believe that the only way to lose fat is the invasive and often painful process known as liposuction? If so, you may need to sit down for this. There is a non-invasive alternative to liposuction for localized fat removal. It’s called CoolSculpting, and it has been scientifically proven to effectively and safely destroy fat in targeted areas.

For those who carry more fat and weight, neither procedure will likely result in clinically significant weight loss. All these procedures do is eliminate fat in targeted areas, nothing more. Without lifestyle changes, some of that fat may eventually redevelop. However, for cosmetic improvement, both CoolSculpting and liposuction offer visible results in reducing trouble fatty areas.

How Does Liposuction Work?

Liposuction is a surgery, with all the potential risks that come with any surgical procedure. A doctor makes a cut and inserts a tool into your body. The tool is moved around to loosen and then remove fatty tissue in the targeted area. There are different forms of liposuction, which may include the use of suction, ultrasound, vibration, lasers or even a water jet assisted version.

Although it can be performed with only local anesthesia, most of the time the patient is sedated or under general anesthesia. After the surgery, recovery and associated pain can last for weeks. There is often bruising or swelling. Physical activity must be restricted for a few days. Even after you heal, you could end up with a permanent scar from the procedure.

How Does CoolSculpting Work?

Believe it or not, CoolSculpting is completely non-invasive. People undergoing the procedure don’t require any anesthesia at all. A specialized cooling device is placed against the targeted area. It freezes and kills the fat cells in the area. Typically, sessions are two hours, but there are CoolSculpting systems with suction that can treat similar-sized areas in about half the time.

The frozen area is massaged after treatment. There may be some discomfort when treatment starts, but the area rapidly numbs. The fat cells break down and are absorbed by the bloodstream before being eliminated by the body as waste. The process takes several weeks, but most patients see marked progress after only one or two sessions.

Which One Is the Better Choice?

Every patient has different needs, bodies and desired outcomes. What you hope to derive from your treatment can impact which procedure is better for you. If you need results after a single procedure, liposuction may be the better option. However, there is recovery time, scarring and reduced physical ability after the surgery. Most people need at least a week off of work to recover, and tenderness in the targeted location can last for six to eight weeks.

Liposuction surgery will typically reduce fat in an area by 80-90 percent in one fell swoop. CoolSculpting, on the other hand, reduces fat in an area by about 20 percent in each session. CoolSculpting usually requires at least two sessions, sometimes three, which are spaced about two months apart. Many areas can get treated in a single session, leading to impressive overall fat reduction after completing the sessions. Additionally, there are no surgical risks, no anesthesia, no recovery time and no scarring associated with CoolSculpting.

In general, CoolSculpting will cost more. This is due to the need for several sessions to obtain the same amount of fat reduction. Patients can expect to pay about 20 percent more for non-invasive CoolSculpting than they would for traditional, surgical liposuction procedures for the same areas of their bodies. In the end, the decision about which is preferable depends on the patient seeking fat reduction. Many prefer the safety and no recovery time associated with CoolSculpting, while others may want the immediate results of surgical liposuction.