The Ultimate Guide to CoolSculpting

Sep 23, 2019

​Almost everyone has an area on their body where excess fat seems to stick and stay. No matter how many salads you eat or crunches you do – that bulge on your belly or jiggle in your thighs won’t go away.

Not anymore.

Thanks to Coolsculpting, now you can say good-bye to that baby bulge, those saddlebags, love handles or double chin without going under the knife. Coolsculpting is the new, non-invasive fat reduction procedure that doesn’t involve surgery. No cutting, no post-op, no downtime at all and treatment takes less than an hour.

It’s a fat-freezing treatment that targets those pockets and paunches you thought were here to stay.

What is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is the latest innovation from Allergan, a leader in body and facial aesthetics. Coolsculpting is a breakthrough in body contouring that’s safe and affordable, with no surgery or downtime.

CoolSculpting is an FDA-cleared procedure which targets stubborn pockets of fat to gradually cool and freeze the cells. The frozen cells slowly die and are naturally processed by the body until they are finally excreted through the urine. There’s no incision, no scar, no damage to the skin or muscle tissue.

Over one to two months, the fat melts away.

How Does Coolsculpting Work?

The secret to the Coolsculpting system begins with learning how fat is stored in our bodies. By the end of our teenage years, each of us pretty much has a set number of fat cells that stay the same our whole lives. 

When you lose weight or gain weight, the size of the fat cells goes up or down – not the number of cells. CoolSculpting is a fat-freezing innovation that reduces the number of fat cells in your body.

What Happens to the fat?

Coolsculpting is a non-invasive procedure designed to break down fat layers that sit just below the skin. Fat cells do not respond well to cold, and if they freeze, they die. The medical term is cryolipolysis.

Coolsculpting uses an FDA-cleared device that suctions body heat out of the fat layer directly beneath your skin. The controlled cooling gradually drops the temperature until the cells freeze. The procedure typically takes an hour and only affects the fat pocket – not the skin. 

The frozen cells die, and the natural process of eliminating waste removes them from the body. The removal process typically continues for three to four months, though durations can vary. As the fat cells are excreted, that stubborn pocket of fat goes away too. 

According to a study from the U.S. National Institute of Health, a Coolsculpting treatment reduces fat cells in the treated area by 20 – 25%.

What makes Coolsculpting so effective?

Up until now, anyone with a double chin or rolls of back fat had no option but to go under the knife.

Then researchers at Harvard discovered fat cells were hypersensitive to cold and freezing would cause cell death. The premise for the Coolsculpting system was born.

Coolsculpting has the ability to target a localized fat pocket on the body and dissolve it without breaking the skin. The procedure contours your body, gently removing those bulges or pouches you thought would never be gone — all without any real side effects or post-treatment downtime.

What parts of the body does it work on?

The good news is Coolsculpting is cleared by the FDA to treat all the common problem areas where stubborn fat builds up. If you can pinch the fat, you can freeze the fat. 

Here are the localized problem areas that Coolsculpting will address.

  1. Double Chin
  2. Bulges on the Jawline
  3. Belly Fat
  4. Fat on Inner Thighs
  5. Love handles (Muffin tops)
  6. Saddlebags (Outer Thighs)
  7. Bra Fat
  8. Back Fat
  9. Fat below the Buttock (banana rolls)

It’s important to remember that Coolsculpting is not a weight-loss treatment. People who would be considered to be obese are not good candidates and should pursue other options. Also be aware that Coolsculpting, like liposuction, has no impact on cellulite. 

Best Candidates

The best candidates for the treatment have a healthy lifestyle but are frustrated by those stubborn pockets of fat that seem to stick and stay. Contouring fat from under the chin or below the upper arms can take years off your appearance. Trimming off your love handles or slimming down those saddlebags will create a proportionate, curvy physique that will boost your self-confidence.

CoolSculpting FAQ

Q: What happens during a Coolsculpting procedure?

A. First, the medical staff marks the treatment area and covers the skin with gel and a pad. The freezing device is placed on the pad. When the device is activated, clients feel a strong sensation of cold, along with a tingling or pulling sensation. The cold will numb the area quickly, ending the feelings.

Once the treatment is complete, and the device is removed, it’s normal to see reddened skin and a raised block of concentrated fat cells (the “butter stick.”) There is no skin damage, and the raised tissue is massaged away in under a minute. 

Q: How many treatments do you need?

A: Typically one, but sometimes larger areas may require a second visit. Some providers may bundle a number of treatments to increase the amount of fat reduction. 

Q: How long does it take to see results?

The frozen cells begin to dissolve within the first month. The fat pockets in the treatment area slowly diminish over the next 8 to 16 weeks until they’re gone.

Q: How much does the procedure cost?

A: The price range is between $800 to $1,750 per treatment. Though it can vary somewhat by location, be wary of places that charge below the minimum. Coolsculpting prices are controlled by the device manufacturer to maintain quality control – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Q: This is for women, right?

A: No, not at all. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to shave that little pooch off their belly or lose their love handles. The treatment is fast – just 60 minutes – so no need to miss work or take time from your daily routine. The best candidates are healthy men and women who want to streamline their physique. 

Q: Is Coolsculpting safe? 

A: Yes. The FDA first cleared the procedure in 2010 to fat-freeze love handles. Now the device has been cleared for all nine treatment areas.

Q: Is there any reason to avoid the Coolsculpting treatment?

A: Some pre-existing conditions will prevent you from receiving the procedure, including cryoglobulinemia, cold agglutinin disease, or paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria. Please discuss your medical history with your doctor to make sure you’re a good candidate for the treatment. Read a more detailed article on safety information here.

Before & After

The results from a Coolsculpting treatment can be quite striking, especially given that there’s no surgery, no scars, no post-recovery downtime. The photographs below are from Coolsculpting clients, male and female. 

CoolSculpting patient photos, courtesy of Ranch & Coast Plastic Surgery

CoolSculpting Comparison

How does CoolSculpting stack up to other methods of getting rid of fat and changing your body image? We take a straightforward look at the similarity and differences with:

  • Liposuction
  • Diet & Exercise
  • CoolTone
  • Sculptsure

CoolSculpting vs Liposuction

CoolSculpting and liposuction are both effective methods for removing fat cells from the body. Both can target localized pockets of fat in specific areas on the body. Lastly, both can result in very positive outcomes for patients.

The real difference sits in how those results are achieved.

Liposuction is major surgery that typically requires general anesthesia. The procedure involves an incision and the insertion of a hollow tube called a cannula that suctions out the fat. New techniques involve the use of a laser to liquify fat and expedite its removal.

The recovery period can be difficult and uncomfortable. The bruising is typically extensive and depending on your case, you may need to wear a compression document for up to two months. Clients normally need a minimum of a week away from work.

There are circumstances where a client may need to decide which procedure is best for their circumstances. It’s another reason that patients are encouraged to get treatments in a facility with a licensed plastic surgeon. If you are considering one or the other, their expertise is invaluable.





Procedure Type

Non-invasive treatment




Yes, general or local

Cost per treatment (can vary based on location)

$800 to $1,750^


Covered by Insurance



Weight Loss Procedure?



Number of Procedures

1 – 4 (dependent on areas treated)


Post Procedure Impacts

·    Minor bruising

·    Some skin sensitivity

·    Minor tenderness

·    Tingling or cramping

·     Major bruising

·     Incision healing

·     Skin discoloration

·     Fluid build up

·     Temporary or permanent numbness

·     Skin infection

·     Uneven skin surface, bulges or divots

Recovery Period


2-3 weeks

(may require a compression garment for 1 to 2 months)

Procedure Outcomes

25% reduction in fat cells in treatment area~

5 liters of fat from the treatment area.

Figure 1: ^source: http://drfreezedelmar.com/prices; * source: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/liposuction/cost; ~source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19296153

CoolSculpting vs Diet & Exercise

Everyone should prioritize proper nutrition and regular exercise. It’s the foundation of a healthy mind and body. When it comes to Coolsculpting, this isn’t an either/or – it’s a both. The best candidates for body contouring with Coolsculpting are healthy people with good muscle tone. 

Incorporating changes in diet and exercise can be a useful tool in weight loss. Coolsculpting isn’t a weight loss procedure. Instead, it’s a treatment to address stubborn fat pockets that resist every effort at removal, no matter how healthy your lifestyle.

  • What exercise should you do for a double chin? 
  • How long have you been trying to trim your inner thighs? 
  • Is that after-baby bulge still around?
  • When did that paunch become permanent? 

Let’s face it; sometimes diet and exercise aren’t enough. Based on your genetic makeup, fat cells are going to cluster in certain areas, and they won’t go away. No matter your age or gender, Coolsculpting can be instrumental in creating a streamlined physique and proportionate body shape.

Client commitment? A one-hour treatment – carrot sticks optional.

CoolScultping vs. CoolTone

There’s no comparison between Coolsculpting and CoolTone – they complement one another. Coolsculpting targets and removes pockets of fat. CoolTone targets and builds muscle tone.

Both devices and procedures are innovations from Allergan – an industry leader in medical aesthetics.

CoolTone uses an FDA-cleared device to stimulate muscles using magnetic waves. The waves cause the muscles to contract, which in turn increases the strength of their tensile fibers. Simply put, after treatment, the muscle is stronger and tighter.





Procedure Type

Non-invasive treatment

Non-invasive treatment


Freeze pocket of fat for natural excretion from the body

Magnetic waves stimulate muscle tissue to increase strength and tone.

Results Timeline

2-3 months

2 weeks

Number of Procedures

1 – 4 (depending on number of areas treated.)

4 per one area (over 2-week period)

Post Procedure Impact

(short term)

·    Minor bruising

·    Some skin sensitivity

·    Minor tenderness

·    Tingling or cramping

·    Some muscle soreness (similar to post workout)

·    Minor cramping


Recovery Period




The question that’s often asked is whether about these two procedures can be done in tandem. It’s a logical approach – remove the fat, tighten up the underlying muscle. The procedures can be done consecutively, but the order and the timeframe should be determined by your doctor.

CoolScultping vs. SculpSure

CoolSculpting is about freezing fat. Sculpsure is about heating it up. Both are non-invasive procedures that target localized pockets of fat. 

Sculpsure uses an FDA-cleared laser device to target fat cells beneath the surface of your skin. Extreme heat will damage fat cells in the same way that cold temperatures do. Sculpsure refers to the process as WarmSculpting, but the temperature has to go quite high to damage the cells.

For people with sensitive skin, the heat of the process can be challenging. The cold of the Coolsculpting freezing process is also intense at first exposure, but as it numbs the area, the sensation disappears. 

Though Sculpsure is cleared for fewer treatment areas, the device can treat multiple areas during the same appointment. According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, one can expect a 21% to 24% fat reduction per treatment.




Procedure Type

Non-invasive treatment

Non-invasive treatment


Freeze pockets of fat for natural excretion from the body

Heat pockets of fat with a laser device for natural excretion from the body

Cleared Treatment Zones



Fat Cell Reduction



Duration of treatment

1 hour

25 minutes

Number of Treatments

1 – 4 (depending on number of areas treated.)

A series of treatments (number undisclosed.)

Recovery Period



Cost per treatment

$800 to $1,750 ^

$1,000 to $1,600 #

Figure 2: * source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19296153  ; ~ source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28103642; ^source: http://drfreezedelmar.com/prices, # source: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/sculpsure-a-new-option-in-nonsurgical-fat-reduction

Coolsculpting Summary

The popularity of Coolsculpting is on trend with the shift in how Americans are consuming cosmetic procedures. According to the 2018 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, non-invasive procedures are attracting a younger, more diverse clientele.

  • The preference ratio between non or minimally invasive cosmetic procedures and surgical options has broadened dramatically –15.9 million to 1.8 million.
  • The largest consumer age group are people between 40 and 54 years of age, followed by people between 30-39.
  • Both age groups consume minimally invasive procedures at a much higher rate than cosmetic surgery.

In 2018, the most popular non-surgical treatments were injectables and dermal fillers. Fat reduction technology didn’t make the top five, though we expect that will change over time. But the results show 376,962 non-invasive fat reduction procedures were received in 2018, up from 356,378 in 2017.

Liposuction was in the top five for surgical procedures. But despite being one of the most popular procedures, the number of liposuction surgeries has declined by 27% since the year 2000.

But it’s still the second most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in the US (breast augmentation is first.) It will interesting to see how that number fluctuates as consumers become more aware of non-invasive fat reduction treatments like Coolsculpting.

How to Schedule Your Coolsculpting Treatment

Clients should always have the procedure done at a certified CoolSculpting location run by a physician. Whenever there’s an innovation in the aesthetics industry, fakes and scams pop up fast. Look for the certified practice badges to make sure you’ve reached an authorized provider.

Please use the CoolSculpting website to find an authorized CoolSculpting facility in your area.


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