Is CoolSculpting Safe? Pacific Derm Addresses CoolSculpting Concerns

By Pacific Derm on February 28 2023

Even with a strict diet and intense exercise regimen, some individuals may still struggle with the persistence of stubborn fat. CoolSculpting is a branded form of cryolipolysis treatment, a non-invasive medical procedure that helps eliminate excess fat cells beneath the skin. This fat reduction treatment has gained popularity in recent years as a way to contour your curves without having to undergo surgery or downtime.  

 As with any medical treatment, it is crucial to be informed and aware of the possible risks and side effects associated with it. At Pacific Derm, we believe that pre-treatment jitters come from the fear of the unknown. We address our patients’ fears by educating them on the science behind CoolSculpting.   

In this article, we will explain how CoolSculpting works, outline potential risks or side effects, and help determine if you are the right candidate for this procedure.   

How Does CoolSculpting Work?   

CoolSculpting is a safe, non-surgical and non-invasive way of reducing fat, approved by the FDA. This medical procedure is a gentler alternative to more invasive fat removal methods, such as liposuction. CoolSculpting does not leave any scars and does not require any recovery time.  

Before discussing how CoolSculpting works, it is important to understand the two body fat types: subcutaneous and visceral fat.    

Subcutaneous fat is the majority of the body’s total fat and is located just beneath the skin in areas such as the arms, legs, and abdomen.  

Conversely, visceral fat is found surrounding the body’s major organs, such as the stomach, intestines, liver, and can build up in the arteries.  

Both types of fat are necessary for healthy body function, but having an excessive amount of either can lead to health problems.  

CoolSculpting targets Subcutaneous Fat, not Visceral Fat! The CoolSculpting procedure targets Subcutaneous fat cells using a special handheld device (applicator). This process is called cryolipolysis, and it treats pockets of fat that don’t respond to traditional exercise or diet. The applicator brings the body area of focus to a freezing temperature to freeze and kill the stubborn fat cells.    

Approximately 4 to 6 weeks after treatment, the body will process and eliminate the dead fat cells through the liver. Complete results can be expected about 6 months after the initial treatment. On average, patients see up to 27% reduction in fat in the treated area.  

Is CoolSculpting Safe?  

 Many people considering CoolSculpting also have concerns about its safety. To address these worries, the answer is yes, CoolSculpting and other Crypolipolysis treatments are FDA approved and considered safe.  

Studies conclude that “Cryolipolysis is a reliable and safe alternative to liposuction, with limited side effects.”   

What are the Risks/Side Effects of CoolSculpting?    

As with any medical procedure, CoolSculpting is safe, but you may experience some temporary side effects.  

Pain or Aching  

After undergoing CoolSculpting, minor discomfort such as pain, stinging, or aching in the treated area is common. These feelings are likely due to the low temperatures used during the procedure, but research has shown that post-treatment discomfort typically lasts only 3 to 11 days and will eventually subside on its own. 

Temporary Irritation  

The cooling temperatures used in the treatment may also lead to temporary discoloration, swelling, bruising, or sensitivity of the skin. These skin irritations usually resolve on their own within a week or so. 

Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia  

This next side effect is very rare. After CoolSculpting, it is possible for the treated fat cells to increase in size rather than decrease. The reason for this rare occurrence is still unknown, but it is more common in male patients.  Although it results in an unfortunate cosmetic outcome, there is no medical danger if it occurs. The enlarged fat cells can be reversed through corrective liposuction or another surgical procedure.    

Is CoolSculpting Painful?    

During the CoolSculpting procedure, some discomfort such as pain or numbness, may occur. You may also feel a pinching or pulling sensation as the fat cells are frozen. Pain tolerance varies among individuals, but any unpleasant sensation should last only 5-10 minutes of the 60-minute treatment. The level of discomfort varies depending on the treatment area, with the abdomen typically being the most sensitive.

Does CoolSculpting Cause Nerve Damage?  

You don’t have to worry about nerve damage from CoolSculpting. However, temporary numbness might occur for a few weeks after the treatment, but it’s not a sign of nerve damage.    

Tips to Manage Discomfort  

Although potential side effects are unavoidable, there are several ways to manage any discomfort following the CoolSculpting treatment.  

  • Try over-the-counter pain medication (Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen) for pain or swelling – DO NOT take pain relievers before treatment.  
  • Massage the treatment area to help increase the efficacy of the fat-freezing process and limit side effects.  
  • Deep Breathing.  
  • Gentle Exercise.  
  • Warm Compresses.  

Am I a Good Candidate for CoolSculpting?  

It is recommended to consult with a doctor before undergoing CoolSculpting or any fat reduction procedure. Although CoolSculpting is safe and effective for most people, it may not be suitable for everyone.  

The Right CoolSculpting Candidate   

CoolSculpting targets fat reduction, not weight reduction. It’s not meant for treating obesity, rather it’s designed to eliminate small amounts of excess fat.  It’s suitable for individuals who have trouble getting rid of stubborn pockets of fat despite their diet and exercise efforts. To be a good candidate for CoolSculpting, one should be in good health, without a history of neurological or skeletal issues, and with normal kidney function.  

The Wrong CoolSculpting Candidate  

CoolSculpting is less effective for those with high levels of fat or obesity.   

Further, people with the following conditions should not do CoolSculpting, as it could cause severe complications:  

  • Obesity  
  • Pregnant or Nursing  
  • Cryoglobulinemia  
  • Cold Agglutinin Disease  
  • Paroxysmal Cold Hemoglobinuria (Anemia)  
  • Cold Urticaria  
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon  

CoolSculpting should also be avoided in areas of the body that have varicose veins, nerve problems, rashes, or lesions.    

Start Your CoolSculpting Journey with Pacific Derm  

At Pacific Derm, your comfort and safety is our utmost concern. When it comes to CoolSculpting, we will guide you throughout the entire process, from determining if this is the right treatment for you to assessing the final outcome.   

We achieve our best results by pairing CoolSculpting treatments with Z-Wave Zimmer massage, as well as manual massage. Adding manual massage can increase CoolSculpting results by 68%.   

Book a consultation to meet with one of our experts and discuss a body sculpting treatment plan with CoolSculpting.