(AscendHealthy.com) – CoolSculpting has been around for just over a decade, according to Harvard Health. Researchers first tested the practice on pigs in 2007 before seeking clinical approval for humans. Because of its safer track record over more invasive forms of plastic surgery, it’s gained popularity over the years among people looking to define their bodies.
However, not everyone sees the results they were expecting, and some patients have even suffered disastrous complications. Here’s what anyone considering CoolSculpting should know.
What Is CoolSculpting?
Marketed as a safer alternative to liposuction and other, more invasive forms of plastic surgery, CoolSculpting is a technique that involves freezing certain areas to kill off excess fat. The process works by cooling the target spots to temperatures low enough to damage fat cells but not extreme enough to damage the skin.
Pain is usually minimal, and there’s typically no downtime. It’s FDA-cleared for superficial fat removal in the stomach, sides, thighs and chin, but it’s also allowable off-label for use on the upper arms, back and buttocks.
The result is slow but steady cell death within the fat tissue, leading to inflammation and consumption of the affected cells.
Is CoolSculpting Effective?
CoolSculpting has been found to be effective. One single treatment reduces fat cells in that area by 20 to 25 percent. The results are not instantly visible, however. The inflammation takes about 2-3 months to resolve, after which most people see an average reduction of nearly one-quarter of an inch in waist circumference.
The number of treatments needed varies according to treatment area. The flanks usually only need one treatment; however, the thighs and back generally require patients to return for repeat applications. Patients must wait eight weeks between treatments to allow all inflammation to clear completely.
Who Should Avoid CoolSculpting?
Body sculpting isn’t appropriate for everyone. For example, it’s not an obesity treatment, so people looking to do more than contour their bodies should seek other options. Additionally, Healthline warns that people who suffer from clotting disorders, poor circulation, infections, skin problems, conditions that affect healing or issues that cause unusual reactions to the cold shouldn’t seek this type of treatment.
The risks of complications with this procedure are low, with temporary pain, redness, bruising and swelling being the most common complaints. However, an estimated 1 in 138 people who receive CoolSculpting treatments — a number far higher than initially believed — develop a condition called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. This complication, which usually affects males, causes hard, painless masses of fat to grow in the affected areas. The masses can be cosmetically unpleasant and require liposuction or surgery to remove.
Other Body Sculpting Methods
Looking for a CoolSculpting alternative? Similar types of body sculpting include:
- Vanquish, which uses radio waves to destroy fat cells.
- SonoBello, which uses “laser-lipo” technology.
- Kybella, an acid compound that requires an injection into the fat layer just beneath the skin, usually used to eliminate double chins.
Each of these alternative methods carries minimal risks. All are safer than traditional liposuction, which can cause serious complications, including infections, numbness, vital organ failure and deadly fat embolisms entering the blood vessels and lungs. A doctor can help determine which of the above treatment options might be the best personal fit.
CoolSculpting could be a good option for candidates considering liposuction but who don’t want to endure the pain or downtime. Just remember, it might be a safer alternative, but it also isn’t 100% risk-free. People interested in body sculpting should talk to their doctors to discuss options and personal risk factors.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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