Does CoolSculpting Work: Fat Freezing Side Effects and Results 2020
Skincare supplements, cellulite creams, a deal on comedy club tickets in Times Square—most things in life that sound too good to be true usually are. And if you, like me, have been burned one too many times by false promises, you’ve likely become somewhat of a skeptic who trusts nothing and no one.
So when CoolSculpting, a non-invasive, fat-freezing treatment, became the topic of conversation after the FDA approved it in 2010, you can guess how I felt about it: skeptical. But here we are, 10 years later, and people are still talking about the procedure, so I decided maybe I should put my naysaying aside and finally find out once and for all: Does CoolSculpting work? Below, board-certified dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, answers my many fat-freezing questions. Keep reading to find out what to know before trying CoolSculpting, or in my case, before writing it off completely.
Well, that depends on what you mean by "work." Will it sculpt your body and replace a healthy diet and regular exercise? Definitely not. Will it make you lose weight? Nope, it won't work like that either. What it will do, however, is reduce small amounts of fat in stubborn areas. "It does actually work, and there's science behind it," Frank explains. "If you reduce the temperature of fat to a certain degree, cells go into what's called apoptosis, which means they kill themselves and your body digests its by-products. The magic of it is you’re cooling down the skin to a temperature where it hurts the fat, but it doesn't hurt the skin, and that's why it works so well."
The real problem is it doesn't work for everybody. "The patient it works best for is someone with pinchable, plump fat—basically, small amounts," Dr. Frank says. "Someone who has three pounds of pinchable fat to remove in one area will have better success than someone who has an excess of, say, 10 pounds." And, like I said, it's not a magic wand for an unhealthy lifestyle.
"CoolSculpting is for that patient who has maximized diet and exercise but still has some fat in areas that are considered resistant, like a love handle, an inner or outer thigh, or a little on the lower belly," he says. And despite the name, it's very difficult to actually sculpt with CoolSculpting—it works much better for spot treating.
Well, kind of, but not really. According to Dr. Frank, while there is a natural contraction that occurs when you remove fat with any treatment, there's nothing specific about the CoolSculpting technology that causes skin tightening. "There are some competing technologies like SculpSure, which use a heat-based laser to, allegedly, tighten the skin in addition to removing fat, but CoolSculpting does not have that," Dr. Frank adds.
If you’ve done your online digging, you might have heard that one downside of CoolSculpting is the possibility of uneven fat removal, and for the first time, maybe ever, the internet is right. This is one of the biggest risks of relying on a technology rather than on the human hand," Dr. Frank says. Also, he adds that if the handpiece is not placed appropriately, there can be ridging or an area of drop-off that shows the shape of the handpiece where the fat was removed.
The other big rumor swirling around the internet is that your fat can actually come back. And while it's possible, Frank says generally in all fat removal technologies, including liposuction, the results should last if you remain weight-stable. Another side effect that's rare (but it can happen, so I’m gonna tell you about it) is what's called lipohypertrophy, which is where there is a rebound of the fat growth, and it actually grows instead of shrinking. Not good, not fun, but also not common.
"These are all side effects that can occur, and they’re ones I’ve seen," Dr. Frank says. "A lot of it has to do with the manner in which the treatment is given. There is skill to applying the handpiece. You have to make sure you don't do the same area within a three-month period, and the whole treatment has to be planned out appropriately by someone who's skilled at doing it." Because there are risks like the abovementioned and precautions that must be taken, please promise me you’ll see a licensed health-care provider to perform the treatment. Cool? Cool.
The average is about $800 to $850 per session for one handpiece. Dr. Frank says you should see a difference with one treatment but, at best, you’ll get a 10 to 20 percent reduction of a fat layer, which is maybe just a centimeter reduction. So if you’re looking for bigger results, you may want multiple treatments—so budget accordingly.
In the world of procedures, it's not the most painful, but Dr. Frank says it's not totally without discomfort either. You know that feeling when you come inside from the cold and sit in front of a fire and you get that aching pain until your numb hands warm up? Yeah, it's like that. A CoolSculpting session used to take an hour to treat each section, but Dr. Frank says they’ve decreased the treatment times to half an hour, so whatever pain you experience during the process is at least short-lived. Also, since the process requires pulling, tugging, and pinching the skin, you could experience slight bruising and soreness afterward.
If you were hoping to walk out of your appointment looking all sculpted and chiseled, I’m sorry to disappoint you again. How noticeable your results are depends on the number of treatments you get, but either way, the effects aren't immediate. On average, you could start noticing changes in one to three months, but it could take six months for the full results—definitely something to consider when timing the appointments.
Brooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com.
Carly Cardellino was the beauty director at Cosmopolitan. If you follow her Instagram, then you know she'll try just about any beauty trend or treatment once (the pics of her purple hair are on IG to prove it). But her favorite part about being in beauty is finding the most effective products, and then sharing that intel with others—because who wants to spend money on stuff that doesn't work? No one, that's who. Her most recent discovery: De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment, which will change your blemish-clearing game! Hopefully through the beauty stories she writes—and the experiences she shares—you can see exactly why she's in this business.
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15 Natural Deodorants That *Actually* WorkBut here we are, 10 years later, and people are still talking about the procedure Does CoolSculpting actually work? What it will do, however, is reduce small amounts of fat in stubborn areas. "The patient it works best for is someone with pinchable, plump fat—basically, small amounts," Does CoolSculpting tighten loose skin? there's nothing specific about the CoolSculpting technology that causes skin tightening What are the negative effects of CoolSculpting? one downside of CoolSculpting is the possibility of uneven fat removal the results should last if you remain weight-stable. You have to make sure you don't do the same area within a three-month period, What is the average cost of CoolSculpting? $800 to $850 per session for one handpiece you’ll get a 10 to 20 percent reduction of a fat layer Does freezing fat hurt? it's not totally without discomfort How long does it take for CoolSculpting to work? you could start noticing changes in one to three months