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.
What is CoolSculpting?
So just what is CoolSculpting, and how precisely does it get rid of body fat? As it turns out, the name is pretty on point, as CoolSculpting, or cryolipolysis, literally freezes the fat off of you with a machine on targeted areas of your body. The reason this can be done without permanently injuring the skin, muscles, nerves, and other cells in the area you freeze is because fat is more temperature sensitive than the rest of the cells your body, according to the Mayo Clinic. That means that fat will go through cell death first, leaving the rest of your cells intact.
How was CoolSculpting invented?
The story about how CoolSculpting came to be is actually pretty interesting. It all started with two doctors affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Rox Anderson and Dr. Dieter Manstein, according to Westlake Dermatology. Both of the physicians knew about the concept of "popsicle panniculitis," which is when you lose fat cells in your cheeks after eating frozen treats such as, you guessed it, popsicles. Additionally, believe it or not, at the time a woman reported a loss of fat in her inner thighs after riding a horse naked in especially cold weather. What her motives were for pulling a Lady Godiva, we may not ever know.
Different people get different results from CoolSculpting
Human bodies are incredibly diverse from one another, whether it's size, shape, phenotype, or myriad of other factors and responses. It should come as no surprise then that everyone will have a different response to CoolSculpting, according to plastic surgeon Jason Roostaeian. "One of the downsides of [CoolSculpting] is there's a range for any one person," he shared in an interview with Vogue magazine. "I've seen people look at before and after pictures and not be able to see the results."
CoolSculpting isn't for everyone
Although CoolSculpting is a relatively simple procedure, it's not for everyone. For one, you'll want to be within a certain range of your goal weight for maximum results, according to dermatologist Angela Lamb. "CoolSculpting works best on women who are within 15 to 20 pounds of their ideal weight," she explained in an interview with Redbook. That doesn't mean you can't get CoolSculpting if you weigh more than that, however, as you can still melt inches away at a larger size. But results will be more dramatic for people who are within that range.
Is CoolSculpting safe?
Just as cost is a big concern when it comes to CoolSculpting, so too is safety. So is it really true that CoolSculpting is as safe as it is effective? And what are the risks that you need to know about before sitting down for the procedure?
Given that the FDA approved CoolSculpting in 2010, you can rest assured that it is indeed a medically safe procedure in the eyes of Uncle Sam. But some people have experienced pain during CoolSculpting, as well as swelling, as noted by Healthline. Additionally, another one of the side effects is a pulling sensation while you're getting CoolSculpting, which can be unnerving and uncomfortable. You might also deal with redness and feel that your skin is more sensitive than usual where you got it done.
CoolSculpting tightens your skin
In addition to freezing away unwanted fat cells, CoolSculpting has another surprising benefit. According to an article in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, CoolSculpting also tightens the skin in the area where you have the procedure done. Talk about the cherry on top of the sundae! That's the stuff of dreams.
What mechanisms are at work, exactly, that render your skin less saggy and more toned after CoolSculpting? One theory is that the cold temperature of the paddles during the procedure triggers elevated collagen production, according to the Parker Center for Plastic Surgery. And since collagen is what helps skin stay firm and youthful in appearance, that can tighten up areas that may have sagged a bit over the years.
In rare cases, CoolSculpting can cause fat growth
Unfortunately, it's not all good news when it comes to CoolSculpting, as there is one potential pitfall that can come along with it — which is completely antithetical to the goal of the procedure. Fortunately, it's exceedingly rare, so it won't have an impact on the overwhelmingly vast majority of people who have CoolSculpting done.