It is a scientific fact that some people are genetically predisposed to storing fat in certain areas of their body. Don’t let this be the reason you give up on a healthy and balanced lifestyle, but consider that you might be a candidate for body sculpting treatments, which literally freeze off or vacuum out unwanted fat cells. Liposuction and CoolSculpting are both options to permanently remove fat cells in the treated areas.
“The treatment that is right for you will depend on your target area,” said Robert Havlik, MD, plastic surgeon with the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network. “Liposuction allows areas to be treated with a smoother, uniform result, whereas CoolSculpting is more effective for fat removal in isolated areas.”
Liposuction: Vacuuming fat cells out
Liposuction techniques have existed since the early 1920s, and as technology has advanced, liposuction has become one of the most well-known cosmetic fat removal treatments. It is an outpatient, minimally invasive surgical procedure that is typically effective on the abdominal wall, thighs and buttocks. In layman’s terms, liposuction can be described as a vacuum sucking fat cells out through a small straw.
“The fat cells are aspirated through a mechanical instrument called a cannula,” Dr. Havlik said. “The physician makes a number of passes with the instrument and creates a number of pencil-sized tunnels through the adipose tissue. The power of liposuction is due to the creation of these multiple tunnels, which allow the tissue in the skin to collapse. Then, it can be remolded into the desired contour with the help of a compressive garment, which the patient will wear for one to two weeks after surgery.”
The incisions measure a few millimeters (comparable to the width of the cannula used), and the patient typically requires two-to three-days off work. Results after liposuction are immediately visible.
CoolSculpting: Freezing fat cells off
CoolSculpting is a noninvasive body contouring treatment that uses a device to deliver controlled cooling through Cryolipolysis® technology, which means exposing fat cells to temperatures cold enough that the cells die. This technique is increasing in popularity since it was approved by the FDA in 2010. Statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that between 2016 and 2017 there was a 7 percent increase in noninvasive fat reduction procedures that “freeze away” fat. (See citation)
“During CoolSculpting, we place a clamp on the target area,” Dr. Havlik said. “The patient experiences a cooling sensation or tingling. The device is operating at a critically low temperature, and the fat cells cannot survive.”
The cells are excreted as waste through the body’s normal mechanisms, so it can take several weeks or months for the results to be apparent. Often, multiple CoolSculpting treatments are needed to achieve the desired contour. CoolSculpting is effective in removing fat around the navel area, around the hips, arms, inner thighs or even fat under the chin.
The benefit of CoolSculpting is that it requires no anesthesia or pain medication, and you can return to your daily activities immediately after treatment.
“Typically, anyone who is a candidate for liposuction is also a candidate for CoolSculpting,” Dr. Havlik said. “This would be an appropriate choice for people who do not want to have surgery or are looking to treat a smaller, specific area. However, liposuction is a more powerful treatment and has a broader spectrum of application.”
Not weight loss treatments
Liposuction and CoolSculpting are not treatments for anyone looking to lose a substantial amount of weight. While the purpose of both treatments is to reshape, contour or smooth specific areas of the body, don’t expect to drop down several pant sizes.
“Weight loss will be fairly limited because neither treatment is designed to shed pounds,” Dr. Havlik said. “The purpose is to address contour irregularities and fat deposition in specific areas. A healthy diet is very important in order to maintain the results.”
A candidate for either liposuction or CoolSculpting should be at a stable weight – not planning for any fluctuations in the future (for example, due to pregnancy). However, if you gain weight after either treatment, fat cells are not preferentially deposited in the treated areas but, rather, more evenly across the body.
During an initial consultation, our team can help you determine if you’re a good candidate for treatment and help you decide which treatment is most appropriate for you.