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CoolSculpting (Zeltiq) is an FDA-approved, noninvasive body contouring procedure that eliminates small bulges of body fat, like love handles, a modest muffin top, or a little extra jiggle on the inside or outside of your thighs. There is no downtime and few side effects.
Here’s how it works: Fat cells are more sensitive to cold temperatures than other cells in your body. (Think of how oils harden more than other ingredients in the fridge.) CoolSculpting uses a targeted cooling process that freezes fat cells without damaging surrounding non-fat cells. Once the fat cells are crystallized, they die and are gradually and naturally flushed out of the body over a 3 to 6 month span.
It’s important to understand that CoolSculpting is proven to reduce only small pockets of fat because the surface areas that can be treated are limited to the size of the applicators that latch on to a body area to deliver the freeze. “Coolsculpting has several applicators to fit different areas of the body. The standard applicator is 6 inches wide, and that largest one is about twice that size,” explains Dr. Robert Anolik, who uses this machine in his practice at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York. In this light, CoolSculpting isn’t a weight loss alternative, but rather a safe method of reducing unwanted fluff, like that small bulge around the bra area or that extra bulk below the waistline.
Ideal candidates for CoolSculpting are those who are in relatively good shape or better, but have small, stubborn bulges of fat that even exercise and diet can’t help.
During the treatment, a noninvasive applicator is placed on the skin to deliver cooling to the targeted area. For the first five to ten minutes there is a cold, pulling sensation that may be slightly uncomfortable, but that usually subsides for the duration of the procedure. Typically, no anesthetic or pain medications are needed.
CoolSculpting takes 1 hour per area that an applicator can cover, so the overall time depends on how many areas you want to zap. For example, if you want to treat love handles on each side of your body, that would take about two hours. If you are targeting your entire stomach, that could require up to 3 hours.
Expect to pay $1,000- $1,500 per area. Usually 1 session per area is sufficient. Some patients may want a second session to refine results further.
CoolSculpting is completely noninvasive and allows for immediate return to normal activities. There will be redness around the treated area, which should fade within a few hours, and localized bruising may be present for up to three weeks. Most people also experience a sense of numbness in the treated area for several weeks post treatment.
“Never get CoolSculpting over a hernia,” warns Dr. Anolik. “Also, there are very rare medical illnesses that are triggered by cold temperatures. People who have these conditions should avoid CoolSculpting,” he adds.
It’s always important to talk to a trusted doctor about your medical history to determine if you are a good candidate for CoolSculpting treatment.
One CoolSculpting treatment can reduce up to 25% of the treated fat cells. However, results aren’t visible right away. Slight results may appear as early as 2 weeks post treatment, but it takes 3 to 6 months for your body to metabolize the fat and the full effects to occur.
“You’re born with a certain amount of fat cells, so once the frozen cells are eliminated, new fat cells will not grow back in their place. They are gone forever,” says Dr. Anolik. But watch out, you still have to maintain a healthy diet and exercise program. “If you gain weight, you’ll see that the area treated with CoolSculpting will be proportionately smaller to what it was, but you’ll still get bigger all over if you put on a few pounds,” says Dr. Anolik.
If one CoolSculpting treatment doesn’t live up to your expectations, additional treatments will result in greater fat reduction. Since it takes up to 6 months for your body to metabolize the dead fat cells and for the full effects to show, it is recommended to span multiple procedures accordingly.
You should only visit an actively board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Dermatologists should be certified by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD). Plastic Surgeons should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Both of those boards are part of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a non-profit organization that is considered the gold standard of physician certification. Consult the Charlotte’s Book Premier Provider directory to find a doctor who meets these standards and specializes in this treatment. For more information about how we choose our providers, please read Credentials We Abide By.
Your liver is responsible for processing the fat destroyed by CoolSculpting, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about your medical history to see if this treatment is right for you.
CoolSculpting is essentially a spot reduction treatment, perfect for that little belly bulge that all the sit-ups in the world can’t destroy….but those who overestimate its magic may be disappointed. This is far from a dramatic weight loss remedy.
Wondering how some models have such perfect six-pack abs? They very well could have used CoolSculpting to enhance their already-toned figures.
For other treatments that target body contouring and cellulite, check in The Arsenal for: Liposonix, SmartLipo, Thermage, and Ultherapy. You can also read related stories in Charlotte’s Pages.
Smartlipo and SlimLipo are minimally-invasive laser-assisted treatments that permanently destroy small amounts of unwanted fat.
Liposonix is a non-surgical fat reduction treatment that uses high-intensity ultrasound energy to destroy fat cells around the abdomen.