CoolSculpting® or Liposuction: Which One’s for You?

You lead a healthy lifestyle. You exercise regularly, eat clean, and take the stairs. So then why can’t you get rid of that muffin top (or love handles, saddlebags, bra fat, etc.)? Sometimes a girl just needs a little extra help. If you’re ready to try a cosmetic procedure to get rid of that fat for good, you have surgical and nonsurgical options.

Drs. Richard Sturm, Sylvia Wright, and Christine Law of Peachtree Dermatology filled me on the latest nonsurgical trend, CoolSculpting, and how it’s different than the traditional surgical liposuction. Check out their insights below.

Nonsurgical: CoolSculpting

If needles and scalpels aren’t your thing, you might want to give CoolSculpting a try. As any of the doctors at Peachtree Dermatology in Atlanta will tell you, CoolSculpting uses a special device to target and freeze fat cells. Fun fact: fat cells freeze at a higher temperature than other tissues. That’s why the procedure doesn’t hurt the surrounding skin and muscle. The frozen fat cells die and your body flushes them out over the course of a few weeks or months.

Surgical: Liposuction

Liposuction removes unwanted fat by suctioning it out. That means anesthesia, incisions, and a few weeks of swelling and bruising. Results are immediate, and with a good surgeon, predictable.

How Does CoolSculpting Work?

Different applicators are designed for different parts of the body—there’s even one for your double chin. The procedure doesn’t require an incision, needles, or anesthesia. During the treatment you feel gentle suction and an intense cold sensation, and then you feel numb in the area being treated. The whole process takes about an hour, and during that time you can surf the web, read, or nap. After that, you just go about your day without missing a beat.

How Does Liposuction Work?

Your plastic surgeon uses local or general anesthetic and makes a few small incisions. Then he or she uses a straw-like wand to break up and suction out the fat. The incisions are closed with a few stitches, surgical glue, or tape.

CoolSculpting Candidates

If you’re healthy and at a normal BMI, you’re probably a good candidate for CoolSculpting. It is not a weight loss procedure, so don’t think you can skip the workouts. But it can help shrink your problem areas like upper arms, thighs, flanks, abdomen, chin, and bra bulge.

Liposuction Candidates

You also have to be healthy and at a normal BMI to have liposuction. But you also have to be a non-smoker and free from other conditions that make surgery riskier, like diabetes or problems with anesthesia. Also, if you have loose or saggy skin, liposuction can actually make it look worse.

CoolSculpting Results

After the treatment, the area will look red and swollen. You may feel a little discomfort or soreness, but nothing that will keep you from your normal daily activities. You won’t start seeing results for several weeks, but pretty soon you’ll start noticing a difference in how your clothes fit. You can expect a 20-25% reduction of fat in the treated area. It’s not uncommon for people to have one or more treatments to get the results they want.

Liposuction Results

Liposuction results are immediate—kind of. The fat is gone, but you won’t be able to see the results until the swelling goes down. You’ll have several weeks of that, and you’ll have to wear a compression garment like Spanx® for up to 2 months. The fat reduction should be permanent if you stay in shape and keep your weight steady.

The Verdict

When it comes down to it, choosing a procedure depends on you. If you would rather have a noninvasive treatment with no downtime, but gradual results, pick CoolSculpting. If you would rather go under the knife but see quicker, more dramatic results, choose liposuction. And if you decide you’re OK with that little extra jiggle, amen! Regardless of what you choose, make sure you’re doing it for yourself and no one else. It’s your body; do whatever helps you feel better in your own skin!

This post was written in collaboration with Peachtree Dermatology. All photos c/o Peachtree Dermatology.