CoolSculpting and liposuction are both surgical methods for removing body fat.

CoolSculpting is useful for removing small areas of fat, whereas liposuction is more suitable for removing large portions of fat.

Keep reading to learn about the differences between liposuction and CoolSculpting.

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CoolSculpting can be helpful for removing small areas of fat.

CoolSculpting is a new way to remove excess fat from underneath the skin in different areas of the body.

During the CoolSculpting procedure, the treatment provider will apply a gel pad and applicator to the skin to freeze fat cells. A vacuum in the applicator will suck the skin and fat up to contact the pad, which will stay in place for 30–40 minutes. The device freezes fat cells, causing them to crystalize.

After the treatment, the provider will remove the pad and gently massage the area to break up the fat crystals. The body will then break these down and remove them.

The procedure does not affect other cells in the body, so there is no scarring or other damage.

CoolSculpting is unsuitable for removing large areas of fat from the body. If a person wishes to remove a lot of fat, a doctor may suggest liposuction, along with a healthful diet and regular exercise.

In the United States, liposuction was the second most popular form of cosmetic surgery in 2018.

During a liposuction procedure, plastic surgeons will make one or several small cuts around the area of fat for removal. After applying a numbing solution, they will insert a thin tube called a cannula through the incision and use it to suck out the fat.

The surgeon may use local or general anesthesia for liposuction procedures. Their choice will depend on the amount of fat that needs removing and the number of areas that they are treating.

Liposuction is more useful for removing larger areas of excess fat. CoolSculpting is more suitable for removing small areas of fat.

Removing fat from the abdomen and flanks is the most common use of CoolSculpting. Other areas where it may be useful include the:

  • back
  • area under the chin
  • inner thighs
  • outer thighs

Liposuction can remove fat from several body areas, including the:

  • abdomen
  • waist
  • back
  • hips
  • buttocks
  • thighs
  • lower legs
  • knees
  • upper arms
  • area under the chin
  • neck
  • face
  • chest

In most cases, CoolSculpting has a quick recovery time. It is possible to continue with daily activities soon after surgery. In contrast, it can be up to a week after liposuction before a person can return to their daily activities.

To speed up recovery following liposuction, doctors encourage people to engage in plenty of light activity — for example, walking around or doing light housework — after the surgery. It is advisable to avoid long periods of sitting or lying down.

Doctors also recommend wearing clothes that compress the body for at least 4 weeks following liposuction. Anyone with obesity may need additional support for excess skin after surgery.

Liposuction can remove a larger amount of fat per session than CoolSculpting. It is also possible to move fat from one area of the body to another using liposuction. A person may wish to do this to contour the body.

People will notice an improvement in body contouring within days of liposuction, but it can take months for the body to adjust fully after the procedure.

After CoolSculpting, any effects on fat loss are unlikely to be immediately noticeable. Some people may notice the full effects after a few weeks, but it may take longer in other people.

As this procedure can only target a few millimeters of fat just below the skin, the results will be mild to moderate, rather than drastic, and a person may need several treatments to achieve a recognizable difference.

CoolSculpting usually requires multiple procedures, but liposuction aims to remove the fat in one single procedure. The cost per session will also vary, depending on the clinic.

Clinics offering CoolSculpting will provide a personalized plan, which can cost between $2,000 and $4,000.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of liposuction is just over $3,500. This price excludes the cost of anesthesia and other expenses.

CoolSculpting offers mild-to-moderate fat loss. The procedure is unlikely to make a significant difference to a person’s body composition. It is, therefore, most appropriate for people wishing to remove specific areas of fat.

It is necessary to be in good physical health before undergoing liposuction or CoolSculpting. For liposuction, surgeons recommend that people avoid smoking for several weeks before and after the operation.

It is worth noting that neither procedure is a long-term solution for weight loss. Following a healthful diet and exercising regularly are the only effective ways to manage weight over time.

CoolSculpting is a noninvasive procedure, which means that it carries fewer risks. Some possible side effects include:

  • redness
  • mild bruising
  • tingling and numbness in the area
  • discomfort

These side effects should go away within a few days after the procedure.

In very rare cases, CoolSculpting may lead to paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), which causes the fat in the treated area to grow larger. This effect seems to be more common in males. It is possible to treat PAH with liposuction.

Liposuction is relatively safe, but it has more risks than CoolSculpting. Some immediate side effects of liposuction might include:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • bruising
  • numbness

Other side effects may appear months after the surgery. For example, some people experience a seroma, which is a fluid filled sac that develops under the skin following surgery. A seroma may disappear without treatment, or it may require draining with a needle and syringe.

Some people also experience fat necrosis, which is tissue damage. Changes in body contours might also occur during the recovery process.

For both procedures, doctors recommend adopting healthful eating habits and engaging in regular physical activity afterward.

CoolSculpting is a procedure for removing small amounts of body fat. It is suitable for people who have specific areas of body fat for removal. The procedure is safe and has a short recovery time.

Liposuction is best for removing large areas of fat. The recovery time is longer for liposuction, and there are more risks.

Anyone interested in losing weight must stick to a healthful diet and exercise regularly. It is important to do this after both procedures to help maintain fat loss.