The fail-safe technique for getting a thin and toned physique is generally marketed as a nutritious diet and constant exercise. While food and exercise are important for overall health and wellness, many people find that despite following a strict diet and exercising regularly, certain parts of their bodies remain resistant to change. Individuals who have been unable to attain their cosmetic goals through traditional means may benefit from a suitable surgical or nonsurgical fat reduction therapy. While liposuction remains the gold-standard surgical treatment for excess subcutaneous fat, nonsurgical treatments like cryolipolysis (also known as CoolSculpting) are gaining appeal among patients looking for a less invasive option. While both liposuction and CoolSculpting have been shown to be helpful in reducing adipose tissue and enhancing body contour, they are completely different treatments.


One of the most prevalent surgical treatments in cosmetic plastic surgery is liposuction. Liposuction was the second most common cosmetic surgical operation in 2016, according to ASPS Statistics, with over 235,000 procedures performed in the United States alone. Liposuction is a surgical procedure for removing extra subcutaneous fat and contouring the body. A plastic surgeon makes one or more extremely small incisions in specified areas of extra fat during a liposuction treatment. A cannula is a long, narrow suction tool that is placed into the incision(s) and removes fat from the specified treatment area. Liposuction can be done under general anesthesia, local anesthetic, or sedation, depending on the number of body locations treated and the amount of fat removed. Liposuction is used to address fat in a variety of body areas, including the abdomen, waist, back, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, upper arms, chin, and neck.


Nonsurgical fat reduction operations grew by about 6% from 2015 to 2016. CoolSculpting is an FDA-approved, noninvasive device that employs cryolipolysis technology to remove subcutaneous fat in specific areas. A vacuum applicator is used to apply regulated cooling to the skin’s surface. The CoolSculpting technology causes crystallization and cell death in specific fat cells by exposing them to a dangerously low temperature. CoolSculpting is currently approved for use in the submental region (also known as the “double chin“), the thighs, the belly, and the flanks.

Which option is the best fit for me?

When deciding between liposuction and CoolSculpting, prospective patients should think about the following points:

What are your therapeutic objectives?

  • CoolSculpting is a fat-reduction device that targets specific fat pockets. CoolSculpting may be the right therapy for individuals looking for a nonsurgical way to remove fat in a specific location, such as the love handles or outer thighs. Patients who get a CoolSculpting procedure should anticipate to see a mild to moderate improvement in the treated area. It’s worth noting that getting the optimum outcomes may necessitate numerous therapy sessions. The number of treatment cycles required is determined on the treatment area. Furthermore, patients should be aware that CoolSculpting results do not appear immediately. Changes in the treated area can appear as soon as three weeks following treatment, with the most dramatic outcomes appearing one to three months later. For about four months after your surgery, your body will continue to process the injured fat cells from your body.
  • Liposuction may be the better option for patients who want to address excess fat over a bigger area of the body or who want a more dramatic alteration in body contour. Liposuction is a more severe treatment option that allows for the removal of more fat in a single session. For individuals who want more comprehensive body reshaping, liposuction can be combined with additional surgical procedures, such as autologous fat transfer. The fat removed after liposuction can be reinjected into parts of the body that need additional volume, such as the breasts, buttocks, and face. Unlike CoolSculpting, an overall reduction in fullness and enhanced contour can be seen within a few days following the surgery.

How long does it take to recover?

  • Because CoolSculpting is a noninvasive surgery, patients can expect a speedy recovery, little discomfort, and a low chance of consequences. Patients can usually continue their normal activities right after the surgery. In the treated area, patients may suffer redness, mild bruising, tingling, numbness, or discomfort. It’s likely that these signs and symptoms may go away fast.
  • The recuperation time after liposuction surgery is relatively short. Within a week of surgery, patients can usually return to work and resume most daily activities. Swelling, bruising, and numbness are normal adverse effects after liposuction and will go away within weeks to months. Most procedures take several months to a year to see the complete effects since the body continues to adjust for up to a year after surgery. However, you will see an overall reduction in fullness and enhanced contour within days of your liposuction operation. It’s vital to remember that the amount of fat removed and the number of places treated determine the recovery time.

Are you a good fit for the job?

  • CoolSculpting is best suited for those who are in good physical shape, have localized fat deposits and minimal skin laxity, and have reasonable expectations of the procedure. Patients considering CoolSculpting should expect mild to moderate improvement and be aware that it is not intended to help them lose weight.
  • Liposuction is best for people who are in good overall health, have extra fat deposits, and have realistic expectations for the treatment. Because liposuction can increase the look of loose skin in the intended treatment area, it is best suited for individuals with modest skin laxity. Tobacco/nicotine use should be avoided for many weeks before and after a liposuction treatment because it can slow down the healing process and raise the risk of problems. You and your surgeon will discuss your cosmetic goals during the surgery consultation, and your surgeon will assess whether liposuction is a good option for you. It’s crucial to remember that liposuction isn’t a replacement for a healthy diet and regular exercise, nor is it a weight reduction or obesity treatment.

Finally, the most appropriate treatment option is one that matches with the patient’s aesthetic goals and personal preferences. The best approach to assess which operation is ideal for you is to speak with a skilled board-certified plastic surgeon about your aesthetic goals.

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