What is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is a brand name for cryolipolisis or fat freezing — a nonsurgical fat-removal technology. It offers a noninvasive way to reduce stubborn bulges of fat that persist after you’ve tried dieting and exercise.

CoolSculpting treats localized areas of fat on the waist, back or other areas of the body. Doctors use a handheld device that holds and cools targeted areas of fat beneath your skin. At about 4 degrees Celsius, fat cells begin to crystallize, break down and eventually die before they’re naturally removed by the body. The treatment affects fat cells exclusively and doesn’t harm other cells in the area.

The board-certified plastic surgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus have high-level skills in performing CoolSculpting and a wide array of nonsurgical procedures. Ohio State plastic surgeons also offer liposuction, minimally invasive surgical fat-removal and other cosmetic procedures.

Why CoolSculpting is done

Despite healthy eating habits and a regular exercise regime, you may have stubborn areas of fat that won’t go away. In some instances, genetics play a role in where fat tends to settle. Some people can’t get rid of chin fat or unwanted fat that settles around the belly or in fatty flanks referred to as “love handles,” “muffin top” or back fat.

CoolSculpting targets persistent, problematic fat in localized areas, such as:

  • Under the chin
  • Upper arms
  • Waist and abdominal area
  • Flanks on breast, back and belly
  • Buttocks, hips and thighs

To treat fat over larger areas of your body, liposuction or other body contouring procedures may be better options to consider.

CoolSculpting is not a weight-loss procedure. Consult Ohio State’s weight management specialists for effective, nonsurgical weight management.

How to prepare for CoolSculpting

  • Preparing for CoolSculpting may include the following steps as directed by your doctor:
  • Medical evaluation, including medical history
  • Assessment of health and skin condition
  • Evaluation of specific areas to be treated
  • Consultation about the procedure

What to expect

CoolSculpting can be done at your doctor’s office. Time required for the procedure can range from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on areas treated and treatment goals.

Your doctor will apply a gel to the area to be treated. They’ll then use the CoolSculpting device to gather fatty tissue, using the applicator’s vacuum-like suction attachment. You may feel a tugging sensation and temporary pinching, numbness or discomfort in the area.

Once fatty tissues are gathered, the device cools the area at a temperature of about 4 degrees Celsius. This causes fat cells to break down and eventually dissolve without harming other cells in this area.

Any discomfort usually goes away once the area begins to feel cool and numb. During your procedure, you can listen to music, watch a movie or just relax and rest your eyes.

CoolSculpting results

You may experience some temporary numbness or redness and swelling in areas treated. You should be able to return to work or other routine schedules with no downtime.

Results after CoolSculpting aren’t noticeable right away. You’ll begin to see a difference within two to three weeks as your body continues to get rid of disintegrated fat cells. Results are permanent as long as you maintain a steady, balanced diet and a healthy exercise routine to avoid weight gain.

Risks of CoolSculpting

Risks of CoolSculpting therapy vary depending on individual condition and the number and extent of areas treated. Ohio State’s board-certified plastic surgeons evaluate your condition, medical history and treatment goals to determine whether it’s an option for you.

A good candidate for CoolSculpting would have the following:

  • Generally good health
  • Realistic expectations
  • Localized pockets of resistant fat
  • Skin that’s not excessively loose

You should not have CoolSculpting if you have these or other conditions as discussed by your doctor:

  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Dermatitis or other skin conditions
  • Chronic pain
  • Diabetic neuropathy or other nerve conditions
  • An implanted medical device
  • Poor circulation

Potential risks of CoolSculpting include:

  • Abnormal hardening of fat tissue (paradoxical adipose hyperplasia or PAH)
  • Changes in skin sensation
  • Excessive bruising, redness and swelling
  • Results not as expected
  • Scarring
  • Skin ulceration
  • Tenderness in treated areas

CoolSculpting has a low risk of complications when performed by highly qualified plastic surgeons like those at Ohio State. During your office visits, your doctor will discuss your condition, goals and any possible risks.

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