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Liposuction vs. Coolsculpting by Joel Bain Herron, MD

In the approximate 20 years or so that I have been involved with cosmetic and surgical dermatology, one of the biggest trends I have witnessed is the evolution and desire toward less downtime from procedures.  Fat reduction or body shaping has not been immune to this.  Liposuction is still a useful and desired procedure, but how does it compare with newer technology such as Coolsculpting?

Liposuction is, without a doubt, a more invasive procedure with a much greater reliance on the skill of the provider for optimal outcomes.  There is a greater chance of complications and a much longer recovery time.  There is post-operative pain and significant bruising and swelling.  However, the fat is removed from the body during the procedure and likely will result in a more noticeable, more dramatic result in a shorter period of time.  Physical activity has to be curbed for several weeks during the post-operative recovery time and compression garments are vital for several weeks following the procedure.  The procedure is performed through several small incisions, so there will be some surgical scars present after the procedure.  Fortunately, those can usually be placed in some less conspicuous locations.

What is Coolsculpting?

Coolsculpting is a non-invasive procedure.  It involves the application of a suction device to the surface of the skin and cooling the skin in order to damage the fat cells, inducing them to be removed by the body.  Once the device is attached, a button is pushed and the procedure is automated.  There is no reliance on the skill of the provider for the procedure.  The real “skill” of the provider for Coolsculpting, however, is in the appropriate selection of the appropriate patient and in the placement of the applicators to achieve optimal results.  The experience of the provider or evaluator is critical for this.  All of our providers are graduates of Coolsculpting University where they have received additional intensive training and experience in order to optimize treatment results.  There is literally little to no downtime from the procedure.  I personally left the office after my procedure and went home to perform yardwork 30 minutes after having it done.  There are no incisions or surgical scars.

How Does Coolsculpting Work?

Coolsculpting relies on the gradual removal of fat in the weeks following the procedure, so the results are gradual and slower compared to liposuction.  There are no restrictions on physical activity and no compression garments are necessary.  Coolsculpting is usually meant to be repeated for optimal results.  Most patients who are incompletely satisfied from Coolsculpting have tended to only perform a portion of the number of cycles that were recommended for their desired improvement.  In other words, if you continue with the process and “treat to complete,” there is a much greater likelihood of the desired result.  Generally, the treated areas are slightly swollen and mildly tender for several days following the procedure, but much less discomfort than from liposuction.

Both procedures are valuable tools in the treatment of fat reduction or body shaping and each has its advantages and disadvantages.  Fortunately, we are able to offer both of these procedures to our patients in order to most effectively obtain desired outcomes.  You may call either one of our offices to discuss your desire for fat reduction or body shaping.

Stay tuned for my next blog which will discuss what happens to the fat that is treated with Coolsculpting.



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