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Liposuction, CoolSculpting, Body Contouring, Body

CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction: Which is Best?

CoolSculpting and liposuction are both very effective treatments for reducing unwanted body fat.

So how do you figure out which treatment is better for you?

In this article, we’ll review the differences between CoolSculpting and liposuction so you can decide which treatment is better for you.

CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction

The Pros and Cons of CoolSculpting

CoolSculpting is a completely non-invasive treatment that uses targeted cooling to freeze off fat cells, thus reducing fat in targeted areas.

CoolSculpting was developed in 2010 and has become the gold standard treatment for the non-invasive reduction of fat, backed by the proof of over 3 million treatments performed worldwide.

Are You a CoolSculpting Candidate?

The Advantages of CoolSculpting

As opposed to liposuction, CoolSculpting is a completely nonsurgical procedure. This means no anesthesia, no scars, and no downtime.

Most patients are able to return to work and exercise immediately after treatment. This is good news if you can’t afford to be away from work for a long time. Plus, you can even resume to your Pilates/yoga/weight lifting routine immediately after the procedure.

Since the treatment is completely non-invasive, there are no incisions, scarring, or anesthesia involved. Most patients walk in, relax as the applicators do their thing, then walk out to finish their day.

Pain is minimal or nonexistent, especially with the newest generation of CoolSculpting applicators called CoolAdvantage. A very small percentage of people claim to experience any pain at all. In fact, Dr. Larry Fan has had CoolSculpting done to his own body, and has written about the experience in, Does CoolSculpting Hurt? The Honest Truth.

During your CoolSculpting session, you can take a nap, read a book, or even get some work done on your laptop or tablet. Most patients find the entire process comfortable, and session length depends on the number of areas being treated.

As with liposuction, fat cells are eliminated from the body, so the results are permanent as long as a healthy lifestyle is maintained. Most patients see noticeable, natural results in about six to eight weeks.

The pricing of CoolSculpting is also significantly less expensive than liposuction. If you want to learn more about pricing, you can read How Much Does CoolSculpting Cost?

The Disadvantages of CoolSculpting

There is one main disadvantage of CoolSculpting compared to liposuction:

The results are less dramatic.

Each CoolSculpting treatment can reduce the thickness of fat in the treated area by about 15-20%. In contrast, liposuction can remove a greater amount of fat, usually about 40-60%.

As a result, some patients require more than one CoolSculpting treatment to achieve their desired result. With liposuction, only one treatment is needed.

It’s also worth noting that CoolSculpting doesn't tighten the skin or improve the appearance of stretch marks.

The Pros and Cons of Liposuction

Liposuction has been around for a long time and has a positive history of effectively eliminating body fat.

While there are different types of liposuction, it's usually performed under local anesthesia, intravenous sedation, or general anesthesia.

Once the anesthesia is administered, one or more tiny incisions (about a quarter-of-an-inch long) are made near the treatment area. Next, a thin tube is carefully inserted to both loosen excess fat and suction it out.

Depending on the number of areas requiring treatment, liposuction takes between 1-to-4 hours, on average. In rarer cases of full-body or extensive liposuction, it can take longer.

The Advantages of Liposuction

In contrast to CoolSculpting, liposuction offers the advantage of meeting goals in a single treatment. As long as you make an effort to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle after the procedure, unsightly bulges disappear forever.

Liposuction also delivers more substantial results than CoolSculpting, and the fat is gone immediately. While there is a recovery time involved, you can see a dramatic difference much faster.

Two More Quick Questions

The Cons of Liposuction

Because liposuction is a surgical procedure, there are certain risks involved, such as excessive bleeding or a negative reaction to anesthesia. These complications are extremely rare, and liposuction is minimally invasive, but it's important to understand the risks of liposuction are higher than CoolSculpting.

The post-procedure downtime is longer than CoolSculpting. You may have to take time off of work to recover. Most patients are able to return to work and light exercise after a few days.

There is also bruising and swelling involved, which can last for 2-to-3 weeks. You’ll most likely wear compression garments to reduce the extent of both. Until the swelling goes down, you won't see the full results.

CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction: Which Is For Me?

CoolSculpting may be better for you if:

  • You do not want to undergo surgery.
  • You’re willing to accept more modest and more gradual results
  • You’re okay with having multiple treatments
  • You wish to avoid any downtime (eg. a few days off work and a few weeks of bruising and swelling following liposuction

Keep in mind that CoolSculpting is an excellent treatment for reducing unwanted fat, but it's not the equivalent of liposuction.

Liposuction may be best if:

  • Your personal/work schedule allows you to take enough time to properly recover.
  • You don't have an aversion to surgery if it means getting the results you want.
  • You’re okay with swelling, bruising, and numbness for a few weeks in exchange for more dramatic outcomes.

Remember, neither CoolSculpting nor liposuction will improve loose skin or stretch marks. Good skin elasticity is a necessity to accomplish the most optimal outcomes with both of these procedures. Loose skin after weight loss or pregnancy is best addressed with a tummy tuck.

Making the Best Decision

A consultation with a plastic surgeon, experienced and skilled at both liposuction and CoolSculpting, will help you make the best decision. It's tempting to choose a treatment based on a price tag or recommendations from a friend. But you're doing this for yourself, and you deserve the best possible outcome. Consulting a reputable surgeon who has experience with both procedures is highly recommended.

If you want to get a head start, you can take this online cosmetic self-evaluation form. It only takes two minutes, and we'll send the results directly to your inbox. It'll help you determine which treatment may be best for you. You can also schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Fan.



About the Author

Dr. Larry Fan is a Harvard educated, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in San Francisco, CA. He is a Master Artist who is known for creating beautiful, stunning, and natural results. Dr. Fan has been named One of America's Top Plastic Surgeons for the past 10 years running and has received several national awards for his work in Plastic Surgery. He has successfully performed more than 10,000 cosmetic procedures of the face, breasts, and body over a 20 year period. Dr Fan has been an invited speaker at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons, and has been featured in national media outlets such as CNN, NBC, and ABC.

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