CoolSculpting Side Effects & Risks: Is It Safe?

CoolSculpting Risks Side Effects

Non-invasive fat reduction procedures are very appealing, especially because life is busy. With demands on our time and energy nearly 24/7, most people don’t have the time for more invasive procedures like liposuction or a tummy tuck. With such an increase in demand, the market for non-invasive fat reduction has grown exponentially. As a result, there is no shortage of technologies out there that boast amazing results with very little downtime. The biggest name on the market, though, seems to be CoolSculpting.

What is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting entered the scene back in 2005 and has become one of the most popular non-invasive fat reduction treatments on the market.

The Basics

CoolSculpting, or cryolipolysis, was developed to get rid of fat under the skin. It is a non-invasive treatment, meaning the procedure is administered topically without cutting or entering the skin. The CoolSculpting device uses freezing technology to freeze and kill fat cells in the treated area. These crystallized fat cells are then broken down, processed by the body, and expelled.

The CoolSculpting procedure can get rid of up to 20 to 25 percent of the fat in the chosen treated area. It’s important to remember, however, that while non-invasive therapies can get rid of some of the fat, these procedures do not yield the same results as a minimally invasive surgical procedure for fat reduction. You and your body are the variables and it’s hard to predict just how much fat your body will be able to process with any given non-invasive fat reduction therapy, regardless of which one.

As with any fat-reduction treatment, non-invasive or not, you will always have to be aware of possible side effects.

CoolSculpting Side Effects & Risks

The CoolSculpting treatment itself can be a bit uncomfortable; after all, the device is freezing the treated area. While the procedure is designed to protect the surrounding tissue and only affect the fat cells, the tissue can still experience some side effects:

  • Effects to the surrounding tissue: At the most minimal level, patients often describe tenderness, redness, numbing, bruising, and/or tingling of the surrounding tissue.
  • More serious complications could include severe or prolonged pain, skin ulceration, scarring, sudden and unexpected changes to the skin and fat layers, and Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia.

Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia (PAH)

PAH is the most serious side effect or complication that can arise from CoolSculpting. PAH causes the treated body area to gradually enlarge after a CoolSculpting treatment as a reaction to the freezing. Simply put the CoolSculpting treatment has the opposite effect on the tissue than intended and stimulates the thickening and expanding of fat cells, rather than damaging them so they can be processed and expelled from the body. Unfortunately, this phenomenon cannot be predicted. It’s hard to say how rare or common PAH is and why some experience it and others don’t.

Worth the Risk?

It’s important to keep in mind that the side effects of CoolSculpting are usually minimal and short-lived, however PAH is more serious and typically has to be corrected with a minimally invasive liposuction procedure or even traditional liposuction. According to RealSelf, as of January 28, 2019, CoolSculpting has a 74% approval rating based on 4378 reviews. Those 74% said it was worth it.

SculpSure: CoolSculpting’s Leading Competitor

SculpSure hit the market in late 2015 as the first FDA-approved, non-invasive warm laser treatment for fat reduction. SculpSure uses heat and laser technology, rather than freezing technology, to target and destroy fat cells. By heating up and damaging fat cells in the treated area, the treatment leaves you with up to 24 percent less fat. Surrounding skin is kept cool by a contact cooling system, and the skin is actually firmer after the procedure as the laser stimulates the body’s production of collagen and elastin.

According to RealSelf as of January 28, SculpSure has an 87% approval rating based on 975 reviews. Though SculpSure has not been around as long as CoolSculpting, it offers another option for non-invasive fat reduction with minimal risk and side effects. It could be worth a look.

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