Quick Summary
Procedure Length
45 min to 1 hour
How it Works
Fat cells are freezed. As the fat cells die, they shrink and are naturally absorbed by the body.
Recovery Time
Little to no recovery time
Risks / Side Effects
Generally a safe, low-risk procedure
Final Appearance
2-6 months
Duration of Results
Long lasting unless significant weight changes
Average Cost
$750 to $4,000 (depending on the # of areas being treated)

What is CoolSculpting?

Developed by Zeltiq Aesthetics, Coolsculpting is a trademarked alternative to liposuction. Approved by the FDA in September 2010, Coolsculpting, or cryolipolysis, is a non-surgical procedure that actually destroys fat cells by chilling them to a point just above freezing.

In addition to being used for fat cell destruction, Coolsculpting also has been approved for application in a number of dermatologic procedures that require extreme cooling.

Areas treated with CoolSculpting

CoolSculpting can be used in a variety of areas, including:

  • Abdomen
  • Flanks
  • Love handles
  • Thighs
  • Under the butt
  • Upper back/bra line
  • Male chest
  • Under the chin

Are you a candidate?

Coolsculpting is not a weight loss procedure. As such, people who are obese or significantly overweight may not be a good candidate for the procedure. Patients who have undergone a bariatric procedure may require a more invasive surgical alternative for their sculpting needs such as a body lift.

Ideal candidates for Coolsculpting are men and women looking to shed 10 to 15 pounds off their weight by targeting fat deposits in specific areas of the body, such as the arms, torso, back and chest.

There are a handful of medical conditions that could prevent an individual from undergoing the CoolSculpting procedure. These existing medical conditions can make the treatment riskier:

  • Cryoglobulinemia is a condition in which the blood contains a lot of particles that clump when cooled below normal body temperature. These clumps can cause blood clots and lead to much more severe conditions, including stroke.
  • Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria can cause mild to severe anemia if the sufferer is exposed to cold temperatures. In severe cases a blood transfusion may be needed to treat it.
  • Patients with conditions that cause hypersensitivity to cold, such as Raynaud’s disease, pernio, or chilblains, should avoid CoolSculpting.

If you suffer from any of the above conditions or have any other health concerns, please inform your provider prior to treatment.

Does it tighten loose skin or treat cellulite?

Unfortunately, CoolSculpting doesn’t have any effect on skin laxity. The treatment is designed to target the fat cells specifically, leaving the skin and surrounding tissues completely unaffected.

CoolSculpting isn’t designed to treat cellulite either, although other energy-based procedures can also be used to stimulate collagen production and improve the appearance of cellulite. For instance, radio-frequency devices can be easily paired with CoolSculpting to help you reach your goals.

How it works

Coolsculpting is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that typically takes an hour to perform.

The following provides a brief overview of what you can expect during your treatment.

  1. Your doctor selects the area(s) to be treated.
  2. Next, the Coolsculpting device is positioned on your body and controlled cooling is applied.
  3. As a result, fat cells are altered from liquid to solid via the cooling process. A gel pad protects surrounding skin while the cooling process affects fat cells. The temperature required to solidify fat cells is above that which can affect skin cells, though frostbite is a concern that must be managed by the attending doctor.
  4. After your session, you can typically return to your normal activities.

The procedure itself is pain-free. Some patients may feel intense cold and pressure as the procedure begins, though this feeling should subside quickly.

Over the next several weeks, the solidified fat deposits are flushed from the body naturally, during which time results can begin to be seen. Patients may experience slight reddening of the skin, in addition to numbness, mild tenderness in the area and the potential for slight bruising. These effects should subside in the short term.

How many treatments will you need?

Some patients may see results after just one treatment, however most patients will need two or three CoolSculpting treatments to see the change they hope to achieve in a treated area.

How much fat will you lose?

Each area treated using Coolsculpting sees an average fat reduction of 20 to 25 percent.

Recovery time

Coolsculpting is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. Patients do not receive any sort of anesthetic prior to treatment, and no pain medications are required after the fact.

Mild pain, swelling, and numbness are the most common side effects, but medication or time off from work are generally not required. About 1 in 10 patients do experience more moderate to severe pain in the days and weeks after their CoolSculpting treatment. This pain can usually be managed with over the counter medication.

Full recovery should be realized within a period of two to four months after treatment.

Patients may return to normal activity immediately after the procedure.

When will you see results?

In some cases, patients will start to see results in as little as 3-6 weeks. The most dramatic results are usually seen within 3 months of your initial treatment, with continued improvement up to 6 months after your treatment.

How long will your results last?

The fat cells destroyed with Coolsculpting are permanently removed; however, patients may redevelop fat in the area depending on dietary and exercise habits. The procedure has no effect on development of future fat deposits in treatment areas.

Cost of CoolSculpting

Coolsculpting is an elective treatment and therefore not covered by health insurance policies. The cost of Coolscultping varies based on a number of factors, including the surgeon or dermatologist performing the procedure and their location.

A single Coolsculpting treatment session costs between $750 to $4,000 depending on the number of areas being treated. Also, it is not uncommon for patients to undergo multiple treatments, occasionally treating the same area to achieve maximum fat loss. This will increase your total cost for CoolSculpting.

Schedule a consultation with a Coolsculpting provider to discuss your options and potential costs further.