Liposuction vs. CoolSculpting—Which One Is Right for You?
Few procedures received as warm a welcome to the world of plastic surgery as CoolSculpting™. Since its FDA approved introduction to the market in 2010, this noninvasive fat-reducing technology has been wrapped in the warm embrace of doctors and patients alike. So much so that the temptation to sign up for the noninvasive procedure—in lieu of the more traditional liposuction —is strong. But before you jump on the CoolSculpting™ bandwagon—and don’t get us wrong, it can be a bandwagon worth jumping on—we’re going to stop, take a breath and look at the advantages and disadvantages of the two procedures to decide which one is right for you. Okay. Here we go.
Let’s start with the bulge-busting wunderkind CoolSculpting™. Here’s how it’s done. Your plastic surgeon marks the treatable areas to ensure the proper placement of the CoolSculpting™ device. A transparent gel pad is used to act as a protector for the skin, muscles and nerves. The application cup is placed in position… and it’s off to the races. The vacuum sucks the offending fat bulge into the cup where two controlled cooling panels freeze the fat cells. After about an hour, the practitioner removes the application cup and massages the frozen bulge to break up even more fat cells. By selectively freezing said fat cells, CoolSculpting™ can reduce fatty bulges by up to 20 to 25% without the risks and downtime associated with liposuction.
This does not mean that it’s without its own set of disadvantages. CoolSculpting provides less dramatic results than liposuction and there are the possibilities of surface irregularities, and the rare risk of pain or even a paradoxical increase in fat. What?! Yes.
The advantages, however, are pretty weighty too. CoolSculpting™ is a noninvasive procedure with fewer risks and minimal or no downtime. The price of CoolSculpting™ as opposed to liposuction can be considerably more cost effective. And for those who want to bust a stubborn fat bulge without undergoing a surgical procedure, it’s a great alternative to going under the knife.
Now let’s looks at the alternative, liposuction.
Considered the gold standard in fat reduction, liposuction has nearly as many alternative nicknames as my cats. Referred to as liposculpture, lipoplasty, suction assisted fat removal, or simply lipo—liposuction is based on the concept of negative pressure. If you’ve ever sucked a tapioca ball through a straw at a bubble tea bar, that’s the general concept. Using anesthetic to numb the area, a plastic surgeon makes a small incision into the fatty bulge. IV fluid is injected into the area to loosen the fat and encourage smoother contours. Then a cannula is inserted and the fat lobules are sucked out. By moving the cannula throughout the fatty bulge, and looking, feeling, pinching and measuring the amount of fat removed, your plastic surgeon can shape and sculpt the area into a desirable result.
According to the most recent statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), liposuction is the most popular cosmetic procedure in America. That doesn’t mean it’s without risk, including the risks associated with any anesthetic or invasive surgical procedure. Recovery can consist of a few days with some activities being restricted for up to 6 weeks, and like CoolSculpting™ surface irregularities can occur. What?! Yes.
The benefits of choosing liposuction over CoolSculpting™, however, include more immediate and complete fat reduction and better contouring. Your surgeon can also oftentimes perform simultaneous surgical procedures in tandem with liposuction and can combine heat-energy technologies to tighten the skin in the liposuction-ed areas.
At this point you might be asking yourself, “How do I know if I’m a good candidate for CoolSculpting™ or liposuction?” Well, if the bulges your looking to un-bulge are in an area that is a good fit for the application head of the CoolSculpting™ equipment and would fit into the size of a cup when pinched, you might indeed be a good candidate for CoolSculpting. If you’re looking for more dramatic results, have a bigger area that you’d like to un-bulge, or are concerned with loose hanging skin after the fat is removed, you might be a good candidate for liposuction. So at the risk of sounding redundant, your first step is to consult with your board-certified plastic surgeon. Armed with his/her advice and your own research, you’ll be well-prepared to make the best choice for you.