What to Know If You're Considering CoolSculpting

CoolSculpting is not your standard body-contouring procedure. Most cosmetic procedures to remove fat require lasers or surgery, which can leave the surrounding healthy tissue damaged, causing bruising or bleeding. The results are great, but traditional procedures have considerable drawbacks. So naturally, a team of scientists came up with a new solution for fat elimination. "CoolSculpting is a technique that permanently reduces unwanted fatty bulges through a biologic process called cryolipolysis, which basically kills fat cells through cold," says Rapaport.

As Rapaport explains, the technology was discovered by a Harvard researcher examining old scientific literature detailing pediatric patients who had recently eaten popsicles. "Essentially, the extreme cold was killing fat cells but not killing skin cells," explains Rapaport.

Following a CoolSculpting treatment, tiny crystals form within the fat cells, eventually dying off after being eaten by other cells. This process continues over the next several weeks, while the dead fat cells are broken down, dissolved by your body, and eliminated through the lymph system, all of which occurs unbeknownst to the recipient, without any diet or exercise changes. How exactly does all that happen without you feeling a thing? Science. It works because fat cells freeze at a higher temperature than other types of cells.

You'll start to see changes in your figure within four to eight weeks, with full results by week  If it's determined that you need a second treatment, you can come back in as early as eight weeks. "It's extremely frequent for people to do more than one session," says Rapaport, adding that the typical female will usually undergo two or three rounds of treatment.

How CoolSculpting Works

During a CoolSculpting procedure, a variety of shapes and sizes of applicators are placed over a gel pad (which protects the skin from being frozen and damaged) for specific amounts of time, at specific temperatures. Studies have shown that the procedure can result in a 25 percent reduction in fat cells.4

"The ideal candidate is somebody who’s not far away from a good body weight," notes Rapaport, "and someone with reasonably good-quality skin—in terms of elasticity. Most importantly, the fat needs to be pinchable. If you can pinch it, we can probably freeze it."

Rapaport says there's no downtime involved, so after your lunch-hour fat-freezing session, you can go right back to work. If you're doing multiple areas, it could take more than an hour, but Rapaport often utilizes multiple machines simultaneously on his patients, so you could treat both thighs—plus your abdomen and arms—in the same one-hour session. "Most treatments last around 35 minutes," he says. "The applicator that goes under your chin is a shallower cup and requires 45 minutes. Outer thighs require an hour and 15 minutes, but both can be done at the same time."

The device feels cool on your skin for the first few moments when it's activated, but after a few minutes, you won't feel anything. Once the machine has done its job, the practitioner will massage the treated areas to break up the crystallized fat cells. At first, you'll be able to see where the device was working because that area will be raised, but after the massage, you won't see a thing.


Above all, emphasizes Roostaeian, CoolSculpting is “for someone who is looking for mild improvements,” explaining that it’s not designed for one-stop-shop major fat removal like liposuction. When clients come to Astarita for a consultation, she considers “their age, skin quality—will it rebound? Will it look good after volume is removed?—and how thick or pinchable their tissue is,” before approving them for treatment, because the suction panels can only treat the tissue it can access. “If someone has thick, firm tissue,” explains Astarita, “I won’t be able to give them a wow result.”


“It often takes a few treatments to get to your optimum results,” says Roostaeian, who admits that a single treatment will yield very minimal change, sometimes imperceptible to clients. “One of the downsides of [CoolSculpting] is there’s a range for any one person. I’ve seen people look at before and after pictures and not be able to see the results.” All hope is not lost, however, because both experts agree that the more treatments you have, the more results you will see. What will happen eventually is an up to 25 percent fat reduction in a treatment area. “At best you get mild fat reduction—a slightly improved waistline, less bulging of any particular area that’s concerning. I would emphasize the word mild.”


"None of these devices shed pounds,” says Astarita, reminding potential patients that muscle weighs more than fat. When you’re shedding 25 percent of fat in a handful of tissue, it won’t add up to much on the scale, but, she counters, “When [you lose] what’s spilling over the top of your pants or your bra, it counts.” Her clients come to her in search of better proportions at their current weight, and may leave having dropped “one or two sizes in clothing.”


About the Author

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    Huyen Trang Dang

    Huyen Trang Dang works as a Creative Manager in an international shoe company. Her core competencies are social media marketing and brand building. Even though Dang is a graduate in Business Economics; she has been working as a Social Media ... [ Read more ]