Excess fat is a frustrating and very common problem. It is one of the top complaints that we hear from patients. They may be losing weight but not in the places they had wanted to target. Any personal trainer will tell you that you can’t spot reduce fat. This may be true when we limit our strategies to diet and exercise. When we truly want to target, we can. At Cleveland Plastic Surgery Institute, we offer both surgical and nonsurgical options. Here, we discuss how you might determine if the way to your best body involves liposuction or CoolSculpting.
Liposuction is a surgical procedure that mechanically removes fat cells. It requires small incisions and some local anesthetic to numb the treatment area. Some patients receive a sedative or have surgery under general anesthesia. CoolSculpting is a treatment that freezes fat cells. This enables the body to target the destroyed cells for elimination. Both treatments have the capability to reduce fat in areas where many people are predisposed to hold it. This includes the belly, flanks, hips, thighs, back, and chin. Choosing which process is best for you is a matter that goes beyond “surgical or nonsurgical.” Let’s look at a few other factors to consider.
When considering treatment, your goals are paramount. Do you primarily want to eliminate a few troublesome bulges, or do you want more sculpting and shaping? This is a difference between the two body contouring treatments. When it comes to getting a more sculpted shape, liposuction is the gold standard. During the procedure, the doctor utilizes a small, thin cannula to suction fat from a problem area. The surgeon moves the cannula in such a way that the remaining fatty tissue smooths out over the surface area, achieving uniform contouring. CoolSculpting is performed using a device applicator that suctions a piece of fat in between cooling panels. The piece of fatty tissue may come out looking somewhat like a stick of butter after the fat-freezing treatment. The tissue returns to normal over time, while the body goes to work breaking down the targeted fat cells and flushing them through the lymphatic system.
Recovery and Results
Regardless of the path a patient chooses, our primary objective is to achieve the results they want. It is up to the patient to decide which treatment will focus best on their goals, and also which they prefer in terms of downtime and results. The thing about liposuction is that patients often overestimate how much discomfort they will experience and how long they will need to recover. After liposuction, patients are usually back to light activity and a desk job within 4 to 7 days. They are advised to take about 3 weeks off from strenuous activity and exercise, though. This is to reduce the risk of unnecessary and excessive bruising and swelling. Right away after liposuction, patients can walk short distances. Also, they see their desired improvements almost immediately after surgery, even with post-op side effects that fade in a week or two.
CoolSculpting treatment does not immediately remove fatty tissue. It stimulates a natural elimination of unwanted fat. Like liposuction, CoolSculpting can achieve permanent results. There is no downtime associated with treatment, though patients might feel some aching or cramping for a few days after their appointment. Patients will not see the outcome of their CoolSculpting treatment for about 12 weeks. The cryolipolysis process takes time and may take multiple treatments, which brings us to our next point.
Liposuction is surgery, so must cost a lot more than nonsurgical fat reduction with CoolSculpting, right? Maybe not as much as you think. What patients need to consider as they think about the cost of treatment is how quickly they will see their results. CoolSculpting is said to achieve as much as 24% fat loss in the treatment area. However, patients need to evaluate how big that treatment area is, and how a reduction of about one-quarter of the targeted fat cells translates to appearance. Usually, what patients want is to achieve a 50 to 60% reduction. To do this, they will need at least 3 CoolSculpting treatments. But they would need only one liposuction procedure, and in that procedure, they can address multiple areas if they’d like.
Body contouring doesn’t have to be a frustrating journey. We can help! Contact us at 440-459-0007 to schedule your consultation today.