Common Questions About CoolSculpting

Author: Dr. Richard Chaffoo
Dr Chaffoo MD San Diego

CoolSculpting is a revolutionary method to reduce unwanted fat in a completely non-invasive manner. It has been FDA cleared since 2010 with over 7 million treatments performed worldwide. Our practice has experience performing over 24,000 treatments on over 6,000 patients. With our vast experience in CoolSculpting, we would like to answer the most common questions patients have asked us over the years.

Does the fat move somewhere else on the body?  Will it create a new trouble area?

CoolSculpting permanently reduces excess fat in areas that are treated with the procedure. Once these fat cells are eliminated they do not show up somewhere else on the body. CoolSculpting does not create new “trouble areas” elsewhere on the body. We are born with a limited number of fat cells like heart and brain cells. Once these cells are destroyed by CoolSculpting the body is unable to create more or new fat cells anywhere else. Having said that, areas treated with CoolSculpting will have less fats cells vs. untreated areas and if the patient gains 10-15 pounds, they might not notice it as much in the treated areas as they will in untreated areas.

What are the risks?

A very rare side effect of CoolSculpting is paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. It occurs most in men. This means the fat cells in the treatment site grow larger rather than smaller. It’s not fully understood why this occurs. While it’s a cosmetic rather than physically dangerous side effect, paradoxical adipose hyperplasia doesn’t disappear on its own. If this occurs, liposuction is the best means to remove the excess fat and in most cases is paid by CoolSculpting,
Does the fat come back?
The fat cells which are destroyed by the CoolSculpting applicator are permanently eliminated by the body. They cannot grow back. Of course, you can still gain or lose weight in these treatment areas by the existing fat cells enlarging or shrinking.

Do you get loose skin? What happens to the skin?

CoolSculpting is a device to permanently reduce unwanted fat deposits. While it is not designed to tighten loose skin we have seen in many cases where the skin actually tightens. We have only seen a handful of cases where the skin became looser following CoolSculpting. In December 2017, the FDA approved CoolSculpting for “improving the appearance of lax tissue” (aka loose skin) in the under-chin area. According to a release, an 18-week study found that 77 percent of patients showed a visible improvement in submental tissue laxity, and 75 percent of patients reported their chin looked more toned following treatment. Translation: Not only is fat being eliminated, but the sagging skin that surfaces after weight loss is also being tightened during the treatment.

Will I bruise?

Bruising following CoolSculpting is very rare. It is seen more often in certain areas of the body like the back and when patients are taking supplements including Vitamin E, aspirin, and NSAID’s. Arnica Forte and ice are good methods to help resolve the bruising.

What does the treatment feel like?

One thing I can tell you as a provider is that most patients build it up to be much worse than it is. Plus, once a patient gets through the first application the subsequent applications are easier because the patient knows what to expect. As the cooling begins during the first few minutes, you typically feel intense cold which feels like a dull ache. This soon dissipates. With some applicators, you’ll feel some pulling as suction is applied. The area generally goes numb within 5 to 10 minutes during treatment. Many people read, watch videos, work on their laptop, or even take a nap during their CoolSculpting treatment. After the treatment, you may feel some tingling as the area is massaged for 2 or 3 minutes. Patients are usually able to return to normal activities following their appointment.

Does it help cellulite?

Cellulite is the dimpled appearance of the skin that some people have on their hips, thighs, and buttocks. Cellulite is much more common in women than in men because of differences in the way fat cells, muscle, and connective tissue are distributed in men’s and women’s skin. Fat deposits that push and distort the connective tissues beneath skin cause the appearance to be lumpy. Unfortunately, CoolSculpting is not the cure for cellulite but it can improve the texture of the skin dramatically by reducing the number of fat cells causing the distortion of these connective tissues leaving the surface of the skin smoother and toner.

Is there anything I can do to help get better results?  Drink more water? Should I wear a compression garment?

The best thing a patient can do is continue or start a healthy lifestyle of diet and regular exercise. Drinking more water or wearing a compression garment are extra things you can do but are not required to achieve maximum reduction. Everyone freezes different and therefore get different results. The average reduction is 20-25% but some can get up 40-50% reduction in one treatment. This variance has nothing to do with what the patient did after the treatment nor does it have anything to do with the age, gender or weight of the patient. I always tell my patients that some people’s fat cells are more vulnerable to the freezing process resulting in a larger reduction and some are more resilient therefore getting average reduction. This can be observed when taking the applicator off after a treatment and observing the hardness of the area. The harder the area is right after the freezing process is directly correlated to a bigger reduction.

Can I work out the next day?

Yes. Many patients continue their workout routines the same day as their CoolSculpting treatment. In patients who undergo treatment of multiple areas a reduction in their work out routine is occasionally needed for the day after your CoolSculpting treatment session.

How often are the treatments? Every week? Every 2 weeks?

CoolSculpting freezes the fat cells, and they are gradually and naturally eliminated by the body. It usually takes about 2-3 months to see the final results of a CoolSculpting treatment. We recommend waiting at least 2-3 months before re-treating the same area. However, areas which have not been treated can be targeted by CoolSculpting at any time.
Visit our Gallery for CoolSculpting before and after photos.

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