How Does CoolSculpting® Work? Read About a Full CoolSculpting Treatment.
Updated: Oct 12
What is CoolSculpting?
The CoolSculpting fat-freezing treatment is the only FDA-cleared,* non-surgical fat-reduction treatment that uses controlled cooling to eliminate stubborn fat that may be resistant to diet and exercise. The results are proven and noticeable. The CoolSculpting® procedure is FDA-cleared for the treatment of visible fat bulges in the submental (under the chin) and submandibular (under the jawline) areas, thigh, abdomen and flank, along with bra fat, back fat, underneath the buttocks (also known as banana roll) and upper arm. It is also FDA-cleared to affect the appearance of lax tissue with submental area treatments. The CoolSculpting® procedure is not a treatment for weight loss.
With over 8 million treatments worldwide, there’s no shortage of testimonials and reviews for CoolSculpting online.
“Well, for me as a dermatologist, it’s very important that I see the science; I want to have something that has clinical efficacy that we know works. But, I also need something that has a good safety profile and a good patient tolerance profile.” - Dr. Mary Lupo on why she chose CoolSculpting
Am I a Good Candidate for CoolSculpting?
Do you have stubborn fat that just won't go away, no matter how much you exercise? This is where a CoolSculpting treatment comes in. It’s important to understand that CoolSculpting is not a weight-loss technique, but a way to help reduce pesky, unwanted fat. CoolSculpting is non-surgical, meaning there is little to no downtime after treatment. Because the procedure – done at a doctor's office – reduces fat in treated areas by up to 20%-25%, it can help patients achieve their body contouring goals. The CoolSculpting® procedure is not for everyone. You should not have the CoolSculpting® procedure if you suffer from cryoglobulinemia, cold agglutinin disease, or paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria.
How Does CoolSculpting Work?
One of the most common questions physicians are asked is, "how does CoolSculpting work?" The CoolSculpting treatment works by a process called cryolipolysis. The fat cells in the treated area are crystalized (frozen) to the point where they are damaged and die – a process called apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Over time, your body naturally processes the fat and eliminates the dead cells. After a CoolSculpting treatment, a massage is done to mobilize the fat that has been released from the damaged fat cells.
“We often find that when patients start a process like CoolSculpting, they continue to live a healthy lifestyle to maintain their results.” - Dr. Mary Lupo
How Many Areas Can I Treat with CoolSculpting?
CoolSculpting is FDA-cleared for 9 treatment areas: abdomen, flanks, submental area (below the chin), the submandibular area (below the jawline), bra fat, back fat, inner and outer thighs, upper arms and underneath the buttocks. Treatments to more than one area can even be performed in the same day.
What If I Need More Than One Treatment in the Same Area?
Most CoolSculpting providers wait about 1 to 3 months to see if an area would benefit from being treated again. You'll want to consult with your provider to determine if treating the area again will help you reach your body contouring goals. What is the First Step to Getting Treatment?
The first step in the treatment process is an assessment. The doctor and/or CoolSculpting specialist will discuss your medical history and perform a thorough assessment on the patient to determine if you are a candidate for the CoolSculpting treatment. During the assessment, other areas that may be impacting the patient's shape or figure are also determined.
It is important that the fat is subcutaneous - fat that can be grabbed or pulled. By the end of the assessment, the team of medical professionals and the patient decide on a treatment plan to help the patient achieve their unique body sculpting goals.
What Does the CoolSculpting Treatment Feel Like?
After your treatment area(s) are properly marked, and the skin in that area is prepared, the CoolSculpting treatment is ready to begin.
First, a protective gel is applied to the treatment area. Then, the applicator is applied to the skin and treatments can take as little as 35 minutes. During this process, the patient is made as comfortable as possible.
During the first 3 minutes, the patient often feels a cold sensation. During minutes 3-5, the patient may feel a slight cold tingling sensation - like if you were to stick your hand in an ice chest.
After this stage, the area will be numb for the rest of the procedure, and for some minutes after treatment. During the procedure you may experience sensations of pulling, tugging, mild pinching, intense cold, tingling, stinging, aching, and cramping at the treatment site. These sensations subside as the area becomes numb. You can even bring a book or computer to have during the procedure!
How Long Does It Take to See Results?
Many patients may begin to see results in as early as 1 to 3 months after treatment. CoolSculpting results are seen over a period of a few months because the process of cell death is not instantaneous! Fat cell death happens over time - but once the fat cells are destroyed, they won’t return.
Are There Any Side Effects After the Treatment?
Following the procedure, typical side effects include temporary redness, swelling, blanching, bruising, firmness, tingling, stinging, tenderness, cramping, aching, itching, or skin sensitivity, and sensation of fullness in the back of the throat after submental or submandibular area treatment. Rare side effects may also occur. CoolSculpting® may cause a visible enlargement in the treated area which may develop two to five months after treatment and requires surgical intervention for correction. See additional important safety information below.
The Next Step in Your CoolSculpting Journey
Now that you have a better understanding to the question, "how does CoolSculpting work?" it's time to find out if you are a good candidate for the treatment. Take this short quiz to help determine if CoolSculpting may be right for you.
Next, you'll want to meet with a CoolSculpting clinician in your area to come up with your complete treatment plan. With this unique treatment plan, you'll be one step closer to achieving your body sculpting goals.