Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can undoubtedly improve every aspect of our lives, including the way we feel about our appearance. That said, achieving your ideal body might seem out of reach no matter how much you exercise or how well you eat. If one of your goals is to lose fat, diet and exercise can go a long way, but your body might still hang on to some of its fat cells, especially around your abdomen, thighs, and underneath your chin.
What can be done about this fat that refuses to go away? When all else fails, you may have to turn to cosmetic dermatology services and/or medical solutions. Liposuction and cryolipolysis, commercially known as CoolSculpting®, are two of those most common fat reduction procedures. The former became popular and viable in the 1980s, while the latter is a much more recent development, hitting the scene in 2005. And though liposuction has been around longer, CoolSculpting is quickly becoming the more favorable option for many seeking to lose fat.
Here’s why more and more people are turning to CoolSculpting over liposuction to remove stubborn fat.
Perhaps the most significant distinction between liposuction and CoolSculpting is that the first procedure is an invasive surgery while the second one is not. In the medical world, the term “invasive” refers to procedures that involve entering the body via cutting, puncturing, or inserting instruments into it. Because invasive procedures actively wound the body, they tend to cause pain, which is offset by the administration of local or general anesthetics. During liposuction, the surgeon must make a small incision over the area in question and suction out the fat with a cannula, a thin device that acts as a vacuum.
CoolSculpting, on the other hand, is non-invasive, meaning the entire procedure is performed over the skin. As such, this procedure can be performed at a dermatology and cosmetic center and other specialized medical facilities. Whereas liposuction physically extracts fat cells from the body, CoolSculpting uses a special tool to freeze stubborn fat cells, killing them and letting the body’s natural filtration system flush them out over time.
Whether undergoing liposuction or CoolSculpting, it takes time for patients to see a significant loss of fat. That said, CoolSculpting tends to yield faster and more consistent results than liposuction.
Results will vary from one patient to the next, of course, but CoolSculpting can eliminate up to 25% of fat cells in the treated area, and most patients recognize results in three or four weeks, with some noticing a difference in a matter of days. Liposuction, on the other hand, can remove a greater amount of fat from one’s body, but that fat might come back over time. Additionally, because liposuction results in swelling, it may take longer to notice results.
Coolsculpting doesn’t just deliver faster results, it’s also a faster procedure that requires virtually zero recovery time. In other words, after the patient undergoes their treatment (which may take 35 minutes to an hour, maximum), they can immediately get on with their day. Aside from some minor discomfort and swelling, nothing else stands in the way. Liposuction can take as long as four hours in some cases and demands that the patient takes 3-5 days to recover afterward. During this time, patients may experience pain, swelling, bruising, and numbness on and around the treated areas.
Both liposuction and CoolSculpting are FDA-approved procedures, meaning they’re deemed safe for those who qualify for them. Still, CoolSculpting comes with fewer risks and potential side effects than liposuction, largely due to its non-invasive nature. Potential side effects of CoolSculpting include aching, stinging, temporary bruising and swelling, skin sensitivity, and a tugging sensation.
Liposuction side effects include skin infection, fluid accumulation, skin discoloration, lumps in the skin, internal wounds, and numbness. More severe (but rare) side effects include fat embolism (clotting of fat cells in the bloodstream) and kidney or heart issues. Patients are also at risk of anesthesia-related complications during liposuction, though these are uncommon.
It’s worth noting that CoolSculpting can also lead to serious complications, but only if the patient has certain blood disorders such as paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria, cryoglobulinemia, or cold agglutinin disease. This is why you should speak with your doctor or dermatologist beforehand to determine whether or not you’re a good candidate for this procedure. The same goes for liposuction.
CoolSculpting and liposuction can help you eliminate that fat that won’t leave otherwise. If you’re considering either of these options, make sure you consult a medical professional who can examine your medical history and determine whether you’re a good fit.
At Premier Dermatology Partners, we aim to help our patients achieve their goals by arming them with valuable information, resources, and specialists in medical and cosmetic dermatology. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.