The main difference between Coolsculpting and Liposuction is that Coolsculpting is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure to remove extraneous fat cells from stubborn areas without resorting to surgery. On the other hand, Liposuction is a cosmetic surgery treatment that loosens and “sucks up” body fat.
What is CoolSculpting?
CoolSculpting— or Cryolipolysis —is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure to remove extraneous fat cells from stubborn areas without resorting to surgery. It freezes the fat cells in order to facilitate their breakdown.
A CoolSculpting session involves special tools that clamp onto rolls of fat and cool them to freezing temperatures. In the weeks following the treatment, the body disintegrates the frozen, dead fat cells, expelling them through the liver.
As CoolSculpting is a non-surgical treatment, it doesn’t require any anaesthesia, cutting and stitches, or recovery time.
What is Liposuction?
Liposuction— also known as lipoplasty, lipectomy, liposculpture, or lipo —is a cosmetic surgery treatment that loosens and “sucks up” body fat.
Plastic surgeons use scalpels to make small incisions around the areas requiring treatment, dislodging fat cells with a hollow, narrow instrument known as a cannula which is inserted under the skin. The fat is then removed using a powerful, high-pressure vacuum attached to the cannula.
It is an invasive surgical procedure that necessitates anaesthesia— whether local or general sedation—cutting and stitching. Recovery time depends on the type of surgery, and while a hospital stay might not be necessary, bruising, soreness and swelling are expected for a few weeks following treatment.
When the body gains weight, each fat cell increases in size and volume. Liposuction can reduce the number of fat cells in specific trouble zones through removal. Liposuction is commonly used on the chin and neck, the abdomen—for tummy tucks—and on the legs— buttocks, calves, thighs —as well as the upper arms and back.
Types of Liposuctions:
- Tumescent liposuction is the most used process. The surgeon injects a sterile solution—comprised of saline along with lidocaine (an anaesthetic) and epinephrine into the area requiring fat removal. This mixture causes numbness and makes fat suction easier, with decreased pain and blood loss. This type of liposuction can be done as a same-day procedure without general anesthesia, which makes it safer for the patient.
- Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction, or UAL, uses sound-wave energy to rupture the cell walls of the fat layers under the skin. This liquefies the fat cells so they can be sucked out.
- Laser-assisted liposuction, or SmartLipo, uses lasers to produce an energy burst which works to liquefy the fat.
- Kybella also known as Deoxycholic acid injections break down fat cells but are used only for the chin area. It is a patented version of injected lipolysis. It uses an injection of acid in order to destroy much-hated submental fat under the chin colloquially referred to as a double chin.
While there are several different liposuction techniques, they all include the usage of a cannula and a vacuum to break down and suck up fat.
Understanding Body Fat:
To decide which procedure is a better fit, understanding the type of fats that exist in your body is vital:
- Visceral fat: This type of fat surrounds major organs, including the stomach, intestines, and liver. It can also build up in the arteries.
While visceral fat is critical for your essential organs, and their healthy function, high levels of it may contribute to higher blood pressure, insulin resistance, and increased risk of severe health complications.
- Subcutaneous Fat: This type of fat is present as a layer underneath the skin, and makes up most of your total body fat. It is the fat you’ll find around your arms, legs, and waist. While it is also essential to the human body, having too much subcutaneous fat increases the risk of adverse health conditions like diabetes (type 2) and heart disease.
Cryolipolysis and liposuction procedures both target subcutaneous fat.
Targeted Weight Reduction: Who is it for?
A doctor might suggest the use of cryolipolysis or liposuction to help you destroy stubborn fat cells in areas of your body such as:
- Under the chin and along the jawline
- Thighs and calves
- Back, and bulges along the waistline
- Under the butt
- Along the bra line and under arms
- Upper arms
Having said that, Cryolipolysis or liposuction are not ways to lose weight fast. Your doctor might suggest them if you’ve attempted both diet and exercise and have been unable to get rid of certain stubborn fat, or if they might become a health risk.
Neither procedure can remove cellulite, dimples, or stretch marks. The aim is entirely aesthetic. It suits those who are within thirty percent (30%) of their ideal body weight, and wish to enhance their natural body contour.
There are several medical reasons to avoid cryolipolysis. For instance, if you have:
- Loose, flabby skin
- Obesity/ extreme weight related issues
- Varicose veins
- Nerve issues
- Rashes or lesions
- Cryoglobulinemia (a condition where abnormal proteins in blood thicken with exposure to cold temperatures)
- Cold urticaria (a condition of skin that produces hives in extreme cold)
- Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria (a subtype of anemia that attacks and destroys its own red blood cells when the body is exposed to cold temperatures)
- Cold agglutinin disease
You should also avoid it if you are pregnant or nursing, or your body does not handle cold well. To be safe, consult with your doctor if you have underlying medical conditions including but not limited to recent surgery, pre-existing hernias or known allergies or sensitivity.
CoolSculpting vs Liposuction:
Procedures such as CoolSculpting and Liposuction are mainly used to improve appearance, rather than providing any real physical health benefits. The amount of fat that can be safely removed in the process is limited. As a result, most people could potentially achieve the same (or better) outcomes by implementing a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, routine exercise, and a regular circadian sleep schedule.
Having said that, for people who desire more prominent results within a single treatment, liposuction may be the superior choice. It can treat stubborn zones of fat that are resistant to exercise and diet.
Having said that, liposuction is far more invasive and carries a greater risk of potential complications than cryolipolysis. Studies indicate that liposuction alone had a 0.7% chance for major complications, but this risk escalates when combined with other procedures or underlying health conditions.
CoolSculpting vs Liposuction Pros and Cons:
Side Effects of CoolSculpt:
While the procedure itself is not painful, during the process you may experience aching, pulling, tugging, or mild pinching sensations. You might also experience tingling, stinging, and/or cramping due to the intense cold at the treatment site.
These sensations lessen in intensity as the area becomes numb.
As CoolSculpt is non-invasive, recovery is instant, and you can drive home after your appointment. However, typical side effects include:
- temporary redness,
- swelling, blanching, and bruising,
- firmness of skin to touch
- minor discomfort such as tingling, stinging, tenderness, cramping, aching, itching, or general skin sensitivity, even numbness in some chases
- sensation of fullness in the back of the throat after treatment in jaw or chin
- moderate pain or cramping
Side Effects of Liposuction:
While liposuction permanently removes fat cells and can alter the shape of the body, if the patient does not maintain a healthy lifestyle after their operation, there is a chance that the remaining fat cells will grow larger to compensate for the new absences, or the fat stores may return in different areas than those surgically removed.
As such, liposuction is normally advised only if lifestyle changes have not achieved the desired results.
There are some common side effects and risks, such as
- reaction to anaesthesia,
- post-operative infection,
- residual numbness through body and site of operation,
- liposuction scars
As with any major surgery, liposuction is also associated with certain complications specific to the procedure, such as:
- Fluid buildup:
Temporary pockets of fluid—known as seromas— may develop under the skin. The seromas might require to be drained with a needle.
- Abnormalities in Skin Contour:
Due to uneven fat cell removal, poor skin elasticity or tone and anomalies in healing, a patient’s skin might appear bumpy and withered. Subcutaneous (or under the skin) damage from the cannula may even give the skin a melanated or spotty appearance. These changes might even be permanent.
The affected area may feel temporarily or permanently numb in the affected area. Temporary nerve damage is also possible.
- Skin Infection:
While skin infections are usually rare, they are also possible. A severe skin infection might develop life-threatening complications.
- Internal perforations:
Occasionally, a cannula that pierces too deeply during liposuction might puncture an internal organ. This could require emergency operations for surgical reparation
- Fat embolism:
Loosened fat cells may break away and become trapped in blood vessels, or collect in the lungs or travel to the brain. A fat embolism is a medical emergency— much like blood clotting— and must not be ignored.
- Kidney and heart problems:
Rapid fluid level fluctuations, if not monitored properly during liposuction may cause potentially critical heart, kidney, and lung problems.
- Lidocaine toxicity:
Lidocaine is an anaesthetic administered with the fluids injected during liposuction to help manage the surgery pain. Although generally safe, in rare situations, lidocaine toxicity may occur, causing serious heart and long-term central nervous system issues.
The risk of complication increases exponentially if the surgeon is operating on larger surfaces of your body, or doing multiple procedures during the same operation. These potential surgical risks are also linked to the quantity of fat eliminated.
Another potential risk for some people is that when a surgeon removes subcutaneous fat you may appear a few sizes slimmer, but with liposuction, in some people, the results are often short-lived, or their cells might hoard fat and appear larger. This is theoretically because subcutaneous fat is replaced by a deeper, more stubborn layer of fat called visceral fat. This accumulates around the internal organs and is much harder to eliminate. Genetics may also play a role in this.
CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction Cost Comparison:
According to CoolSculpting—which is a patented brand name for cryolipolysis procedures— the typical cost of treatment ranges from $2,000– to $4,000. However, areas that require smaller applicators, such as in the submandibular region—that is the chin and jaw—may range between $700–$900.
A 2020 statistics report done by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) indicates that the average cost for nationwide non-invasive fat reduction procedures is $1,437.
However, prices invariably differ depending on a number of factors such as:
- Number of treatments: areas with more fat may require more treatments
- The region a patient wants to treat. The bigger the body part, the more expensive the treatment will be.
- Geographic location and quantity of competitors
- The skill of the provider and quality of treatment
Cryolipolysis for the arms, as an example, might only require one session per arm and would cost less than larger areas, such as the stomach or thighs, or love handles at the waist.
On the other hand, the average cost for liposuction is $3,637, according to statistics from the ASPS. This is only a portion of the total – it doesn’t include anaesthesia, operation facilities or other related expenses. The above factors for cost variability also apply to liposuction.
It is important to note that since CoolSculpting and liposuction are cosmetic procedures, insurance does not typically cover their costs or those of arising complications. However, some plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans.
Conclusions— Comparing the Results:
The results of CoolSculpting and liposuction are very similar. Both procedures are used to permanently remove excess fat from specific regions of the body. However, it is important to emphasize that neither procedure is intended for weight loss. It also doesn’t improve the appearance of cellulite or loose, flabby skin. It only gives a slimmer, more toned look to the patient.
For CoolSculpting, no recovery time is necessary. One session may take up to 1 hour. Some people only require one treatment, but a provider might suggest several sessions distributed over several weeks. Initial results appear within a few weeks from your first session.
After liposuction— sessions may last 3 to 4 hours— and swelling typically subsides within a few weeks. Within several months, the treated area will have a sleeker appearance.