CoolSculpting is a noninvasive, nonsurgical fat reduction therapy that is typically used to target localized spots of stored fat that can be difficult to tone, including the abdomen, hips, and thighs. CoolSculpting uses a process called cryolipolysis, which targets fat at the cellular level, allowing your body to eventually remove the unwanted cells.

In some studies, CoolSculpting has been shown to reduce subcutaneous fat by up to 25% after one treatment.

  • The History of CoolSculpting

    CoolSculpting was pioneered by physician Dr. Rox Anderson and his colleagues  at the Harvard School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital. 

    The technology was first developed in 2008 and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. The first device brought to market was developed by Zeltiq Aesthetics, and consisted of different sized handpieces that incorporated a vacuum connection. 

    Originally marketed as a tool for dermatologists to numb an area before a procedure, this vacuum applicator was used on the skin and subjected the targeted area to prolonged cold temperatures. Due to the differences in cellular construction, the fat cells would die before damage to other surrounding cells could occur. 

    Soon after, dermatologists began utilizing the tool for body-sculpting, which sparked the inception of CoolSculpting. Zeltiq Aesthetics, Inc. is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Allergan and is based in Pleasanton, California.

  • What to Expect During the Procedure

    Using a handheld, vacuum-like device, the clinician will typically focus on your desired treatment area for 45 minutes to an hour. During the procedure, you should expect  to feel a cooling sensation, which typically dissipates once the targeted area becomes numb. You may notice a mild level of discomfort, most of which is attributed to the pinching and pulling sensations from using the vacuum applicator.

  • Average Cost of CoolSculpting

    The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) estimates that the average cost per CoolSculpting treatment was $1,481 in 2017. The official CoolSculpting website suggests that the treatment can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 for a personalized treatment plan.

  • Potential Complications of CoolSculpting

    Common side effects of CoolSculpting may be moderate aching, stinging, and generalized pain at the treatment site. Rarely, some patients may experience a bit of itching, swelling, and discomfort after the procedure. Most of the documented side effects from CoolSculpting are temporary and not serious. 

    These adverse effects may last for up to two weeks, but generally have no long-term consequences. 

    Other common side effects of CoolSculpting include:

    • Bruising
    • Cramps
    • Diarrhea
    • Muscle Spasms
    • Nausea
    • Numbness
    • Redness
    • Tenderness
    • Tingling

    If any of these side effects worsen or continue after a few weeks, please seek the advice of a medical professional. 

    It is also worth mentioning that there is a serious, rare side effect of CoolSculpting known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia that occurs mostly in male patients. Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia causes the treated area to become larger rather than smaller in the weeks following the procedure. 

    Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia is not a physically harmful side effect, however, it does deliver adverse cosmetic results. The physiological mechanism behind paradoxical adipose hyperplasia is not well understood and the effects do not seem to disappear on their own.

  • Best Candidates for CoolSculpting

    It is important to note that CoolSculpting is not a treatment for weight loss. You are a great candidate for CoolSculpting if you: 

    • Are within 10 to 15 pounds of your target weight
    • Are not obese
    • Have a localized area that has seemed impossible to tone using diet and exercise alone

    Before any procedure, it is essential that a medical professional reviews your medical history, discusses the treatment’s potential risks and outcomes, and ensures this type of procedure is right for you. If you are not in good overall physical, mental, or emotional health you may not be a good candidate for CoolSculpting. 

    If you have any of the following conditions, you should not consider CoolSculpting, as you could be at a greater risk for complications:

    • Cryoglobulinemia
    • Cold agglutinin disease
    • Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria