CoolSculpting® vs Liposuction: Comparing Fat Reduction Strategies

Before making a decision on which fat-reduction strategy to choose, it’s important to understand the major similarities and differences between nonsurgical and surgical options. As Charleston-based fat reduction specialists, the Germain Dermatology team is highly experienced in all aspects of nonsurgical CoolSculpting®. Here are four aspects to consider:

Treatment Areas

CoolSculpting® and liposuction surgery can both be used to address resistant pockets of fat on most of the body. Efforts are commonly applied to under-the-chin fat, belly fat, love handles, banana rolls, inner thigh fat, saddlebags, and flabby upper arms.

How They Work

Quite simply, liposuction vacuums manually loosened fat from specific areas of the body. The procedure typically lasts between one to four hours and requires patients to receive general or local anesthesia. An incision is made, and fat is suctioned through a thin tube that may be waved back and forth to separate the fat cells from the surrounding tissue. After this, the incision is sutured shut, and patients often set aside days or weeks for recovery and recuperation as swelling, bruising, and other side effects resolve.

CoolSculpting® utilizes localized freezing to kill of fat cells by crystallizing them. No incisions are required, as the entirely non-invasive device works through the surface of the skin to cool the fat cells beneath. Once killed off, these unwanted cells are gradually metabolized and filtered out of the body. Generally speaking, while each person’s treatment plan will vary depending on his or her goals, CoolSculpting® sessions require roughly a half hour to an hour spent in the clinic. No down time is required after, and any bruising or swelling will resolve on its own as patients go about their daily lives.

Results

Most patients will see visible results from CoolSculpting® after about three weeks, with optimal results showing up around three months later. Multiple sessions may be required to achieve the desired contours. Liposuction reveals immediate volume reduction, but post-surgical swelling must fully resolve over days and weeks in order to best show off the new contours. In both cases, the fat cells removed by the procedure are gone for good.

Safety and Convenience

Part of the appeal of CoolSculpting® is its non-invasive nature, which makes it faster in terms of the session itself, as well as recovery. No anaesthetics are required. It is also considerably less expensive than a surgical solution, which carries the associated risks and costs of sedation.

For more details on CoolSculpting®, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Germain Dermatology team. Call 1-844-SC-CHILL or send a message online.

The Science Behind CoolSculpting®

CoolSculpting® is a non-invasive body sculpting treatment for addressing stubborn pockets of excess fat. Many people may have heard the name—or even had a treatment session or two—but not know how the technology driving it came to be. When it comes to body sculpting, Summerville and Mt. Pleasant’s Germain Dermatology recommends CoolSculpting® to a wide variety of patients, as well as works to ensure they understand what it is they’re signing up for.

Cryolipolysis—selectively killing fat cells with cold—was first explored in the 1970s, but surgical removal of fat via liposuction was what caught on as a popular plastic surgery procedure, even as cryolipolysis was still being researched.

Doctors accidentally discovered cryolipolysis when they noticed children exhibiting mild redness and swelling in their cheeks when sucking on an ice cube or a popsicle. These symptoms would sometimes last up to three days, and physicians discovered that the fat would gradually decrease in the area of the cheek that had been affected by the ice. Scientists referred to this as “popsicle panniculitis.” They eventually theorized that the adipose (or fat-based) tissue was affected more than skin and other tissues were by the cold temperatures.

In 2007, after significant research in an attempt to prove this theory, doctors concluded that fat cells crystallize and die when they are exposed to certain temperatures that do not impact other tissues. The scientific term for this occurrence is “apoptosis,” which describes the natural and controlled death of cells. The body’s natural inflammatory response activates when targeted fat cells are frozen. This activation triggers the release of specialized cells that digest the dead fat cells. The freed lipids are also cleaned out through the lymphatic system.

The entire process is referred to as “selective cryolipolysis.” These physician-led discoveries laid the groundwork for developing the technology used in CoolSculpting® treatments today. Researchers were able to finalize their theory, which stated that fat cells die when they are exposed to a specific freezing temperature range for an extended period, resulting in a reduction of subcutaneous fat in the targeted areas. CoolSculpting® was approved by the FDA and has since become a popular body sculpting treatment.

The number of fat cells in our body becomes stable once we reach our teenage years. This means that any future gained weight is not because we’ve gained new fat cells, but is because the current cells are growing in size. CoolSculpting® targets these cells to be flushed from the body—not merely reduced in size. While you may have fewer fat cells in treated areas, it is still essential to maintain a proper diet and exercise routine to prevent the remaining fat cells from accumulating excess fat and growing.

To learn more about Germain Dermatology and CoolSculpting®, call 843-881-4440 or send a message online.