Laser liposuction and CoolSculpting are two cosmetic procedures that can help remove fat from under the skin. Both procedures are minimally invasive.
Laser liposuction and CoolSculpting do share some similarities. For example, they are both suitable for people who are near their ideal weight.
However, the procedures do have some key differences to consider.
In this article, learn about their effectiveness, costs, and results, as well as what to expect during the procedures.
When it comes to general effectiveness, both laser liposuction and CoolSculpting can provide similar results.
The procedures may work best for people who have a moderate weight.
Both laser liposuction and CoolSculpting tend to be preferable to more invasive options. In fact, a review in the journal Aesthetic Plastic Surgery notes that laser assisted liposuction appears to produce better results and has better patient satisfaction than traditional liposuction.
However, without making healthy changes to the diet and lifestyle, the person may simply gain the weight back.
Laser liposuction and CoolSculpting have similar price ranges.
For example, laser liposuction may range from about $2,500 to $5,500, while CoolSculpting may cost about $2,000 to $4,000.
These prices can vary, however. A person should talk to a healthcare professional to discuss the best option for them.
Laser liposuction and CoolSculpting have different processes.
Laser liposuction, or laser lipolysis, uses a laser to remove fat from under the skin.
A doctor will perform the procedure in the office. The person will be awake during the procedure, so the doctor will apply a local anesthetic to the area where the laser will enter.
They will then make a small incision in the skin, which allows the laser to enter. The concentrated laser light will melt the fat away from under the skin.
Once this is complete, the doctor will insert a small tube into the same area to suck away the liquefied fat.
The doctor will then close and cover the incision site. The entire process takes about 1 hour per area.
CoolSculpting is a version of cryolipolysis, which is a noninvasive way to get rid of excess fat cells. There are no incisions necessary for this process.
CoolSculpting safely freezes the fat cells in the area. The body can then remove these fat cells with time.
The procedure involves placing an applicator to the treatment area, where it will freeze the fat cells beneath the skin. The body then processes these fat cells out as waste.
Each CoolSculpting session will take 30–60 minutes per area.
The results from each procedure are similar, though the time it takes to see results may vary.
The results from laser liposuction may be almost immediate. Once any swelling goes down, the person should notice a change in their figure. However, long-term changes may take months to become visible.
Many people feel satisfied with the results of laser liposuction, especially compared with other fat removal methods.
For example, a trial in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy found that 61% of people were very satisfied with the results of lipolysis. In comparison, 55.5% of people who underwent traditional liposuction were either neutral or dissatisfied with their results.
CoolSculpting does not physically remove fat in the way that liposuction does, so results tend to take longer to appear.
Some people may notice a change in their figure in as little as 3 weeks from the procedure. However, it can take 2–3 months for the full effects to show.
Depending on the amount of excess fat in the area, it may take multiple sessions to achieve the person’s desired results. However, the body may continue to process out fat cells after this time, so it is difficult to determine how many sessions each person will need.
A study in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine notes that 83% of people were satisfied with the results of CoolSculpting.
Recovery times for laser liposuction and CoolSculpting will vary slightly.
Although the recovery time for laser liposuction is quicker than it is for other types of procedure, most doctors will still recommend that the person rest and avoid activities that may strain the area.
This helps prevent complications such as torn stitches, which can extend recovery time.
Compared with laser liposuction, the recovery process after CoolSculpting is generally shorter and simpler. There are no incisions, so there are no external wounds that need to heal.
Usually, the person can return to their daily activities on the same day as undergoing the procedure.
Although both procedures are minimally invasive, there are still some possible side effects to consider.
There is a risk of scarring from the small incision the doctor will make during laser liposuction. Proper rest may help reduce the chances of scarring, however.
Other side effects may include swelling, pain, or bruising at the incision site or around it.
Some people may also experience discoloration of the skin after the procedure.
Others may feel that the area becomes tighter or more firm. This tightness may occur due to stitches in the area, but it might also occur because the laser procedure itself may promote collagen production in the skin.
In some cases, liquid may build up under the incision site and cause burning or itching under the skin. This liquid may need drainage. A person should talk to a doctor if burning or itching lasts for longer than a few days.
Other complications, such as infections in the incision site, are also possible. Regularly washing the area and changing any bandages may help prevent these complications. Anyone who notices symptoms of infection in the area — such as swelling, redness, pain, or warmth — should contact their doctor.
Some people may notice lumpy or dimpled skin in the treatment area. This may be a temporary result of the procedure. However, if it lasts for longer than a few weeks, a person can talk to a doctor about the possible treatment options.
During the procedure itself, many people feel a very cold or sometimes unpleasant sensation on the skin. This typically fades as the area becomes numb.
Some other common side effects may include:
- a tugging sensation in the area during treatment
- swelling or bruising
- aching or pain in the area
- temporary skin sensitivity after the procedure
In some cases, treated fat cells may actually grow rather than shrink. This is known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. It is not dangerous, but it can require other procedures, such as liposuction, to remove these enlarged cells.
This can lead to additional costs and longer recovery times.
Laser liposuction and CoolSculpting are not the only options for people looking to remove body fat.
Other alternatives exist, including:
- UltraShape, which uses ultrasound
- SculpSure, which is light-based
- Cryoskin, or broad cryolipolysis
- Kybella, which uses deoxycholic acid
These procedures each have their own benefits and drawbacks. A person can talk to a doctor about the best treatment option in each case.
Laser liposuction and CoolSculpting are two forms of minimally invasive treatment to reduce fat.
They work together with dietary and lifestyle changes to promote a healthier body. They are not quick fixes for weight loss.
These procedures are not right for everyone, and alternatives do exist. A person can talk to a doctor to decide on the best treatment option in each case.