CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction: Which Is Right for You?

Let’s compare some options when it comes to body-contouring technology.


When people are considering CoolSculpting, the #1 alternative we see is liposuction. There’s a few knee-jerk reactions when I make that statement:

  • “I would never do liposuction because I don’t think what I’m bothered by is that dramatic.”
  • “I don’t want to do surgery.”
  • “I know that liposuction works. If CoolSculpting is going to be similar in cost, I might as well do surgery.”


All of these reactions are valid. However you feel, you feel. When you’re buying a body-contouring solution there’s more than one option, and different clients have different emotions around their purchasing decision.


So let’s talk about CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction – and how to choose between surgical and nonsurgical body contouring techniques! CoolSculpting is the safest and best choice when it comes to nonsurgical options, but how do you know if CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction would be better for you?


The age-old question: CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction?

Sometimes people (like you on the other side of the screen) are looking at CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction. Really, you’re deciding between surgical and non-surgical body contouring. 


Surgical Options: Traditional liposuction for body contouring

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says that liposuction aka “lipo” can “slim and reshape specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits and [improve] your body contours and proportions.” Liposuction can be combined with other surgical procedures, and for most plastic surgeons, that’s most common a tummy tuck and/or breast surgery. (You can read up on lipoplasty according to ASPS here.


Most plastic surgeons believe that fat removal surgery is a great option for those who are at their ideal weight but have troublesome areas that are tough to get rid of. Sound familiar? That’s basically the same description as CoolSculpting, right? Yep.


Surgical Technique – Expect to be put to sleep (general anesthesia), then a tiny incision is made so a cannula can be inserted (it’s a tool that loosens and sucks the fat out). Surgical time will depend largely on the areas that are being targeted, along with the skill of your surgeon. Typical surgery time is between 1-3 hours for liposuction alone. Then, you’ll move to a recovery room with a post-operative nurse who will take care of you until you’re sent home.


Recovery and Downtime – Expect some serious downtime after liposuction. To be honest, you’ll feel completely wiped for several weeks. We’ve had friends who have had liposuction and love their results but are still hesitant to recommend jumping all in unless you could easily take a month off. You’ll have bruising and swelling for a couple of weeks, you’ll need to wear a compression garment, and you may need to be seen to remove stitches after a week. It’ll take about six months for your new body to totally settle in after surgery and your “shape” to be complete.


Cost – Cost varies based on technique and the areas being treated, much like CoolSculpting. And just like CoolSculpting, you’ll need to meet with a plastic surgeon for a consultation to create a personal treatment plan that meets your goals and needs.


Who’s a candidate for liposuction? – While non-surgical liposuction options are great for mild to moderate fat pockets, surgical options are ideal for people seeking a more dramatic transformation, and can go under the knife (ahem, did we mention three weeks of downtime?). Clients with skin laxity are often better suited for liposuction because the skin can be addressed at the same time during surgery.


Non-surgical options: CoolSculpting for body contouring – 

CoolSculpting – CoolSculpting is the treatment most doctors use for non-surgical fat reduction, and it’s owned by the gold-standard business in the beauty world, Allergan. Allergan is the clear market leader in the aesthetics industry, owning products like Botox and CoolSculpting.


CoolSculpting cools and kills about 20-25 % of the fat that’s treated, with each round of treatment.  You can continue sculpting or “re-treat” the same areas for a more dramatic transformation.

Results take anywhere between 3 and 4 months to fully develop, but you can continue freezing fat until your final goal is achieved. 


Nonsurgical technique – CoolSculpting uses either suction or surface cooling plates to selectively target and kill subcutaneous fatty deposits. Treatment times last as little as 35-minutes, but multiple applications could be needed to achieve full coverage of the body area. Most patients spend somewhere between 1-3 hours to treat 1 area of the body at Element Body Lab.


Recovery and Downtime – The suction can feel intense, but not unbearable. The cold is hyper-focused and annoying, but the sensation is temporary because cold is a natural anesthetic and you go numb after 5-7 minutes. The rest of the treatment is comfortable. Once the treatment applicator is removed at the end of treatment, there’s a sensation of the warm room hitting the frozen fat (imagine cold feet in a hot bath) that feels intense, amidst a technician massaging the tissue to break up the tissue. Pain is subjective, and we’re not here to say that it’s a cakewalk, but you’re uncomfortable for about five minutes with no pain medications. You’re fine. You’ll live. It’ll feel intense like we’re rubbing right on top of a bruise, but it’ll pass.


Cost – CoolSculpting can vary in cost based on your treatment plan. Treatment plans are customized to your body and your goals, exactly like surgical quotes. We know, it’s frustrating to be tossed around and not know what to expect with the price. That’s why we make it easy – we charge on average $600 per “cycle”, or every time we place a CoolSculpting paddle on your body. How many of those applications we will need depends on your body. It’s impossible to know without a virtual consultation. Really. But you can find examples of popular CoolSculpting treatment packages and prices on our website. We’ve put together a lot of tools to help guide this part of the journey.


Who’s a candidate for CoolSculpting? – CoolSculpting is ideal for people who are at or near their ideal weight but have stubborn, localized fat they’d like gone. Our best description? CoolSculpting is about improvement and subtle changes to help take you further. It’s best for people seeking improvement in stubborn areas not responding to diet or exercise, who have mild to moderate pockets of fat they want to be gone. We see the best results on clients with a BMI under 30.


So how do you choose? …

Really, it depends upon your goals, your anatomy, and your expectations. The best way to understand what the best option for you will be is to have a deep understanding of the procedures themselves. Again, CoolSculpting kills between 20-25% of the fat with each treatment, whereas liposuction may be a better option for larger fatty deposits. Additionally, if you’ve got loose skin, liposuction can be paired with a lift surgery (like a tummy tuck, thighplasty, or arm lift) to give you more appealing results. CoolSculpting does have an FDA-clearance for improvement in skin laxity in the submental area (under the chin), but its primary aim is at fat-reduction, so don’t bet your bank on it.


There are obvious selling points around the no-downtime option, CoolSculpting. There are great reasons to opt for surgery too! For example, if your expectations can’t be met with CoolSculpting, or if you’re going under the knife anyway, why not choose lipo? If you’re looking for improvement and can’t take the time off work, why not choose CoolSculpting?


Whatever you do, make sure you meet with some qualified and experienced people – we recommend a highly-trained CoolSculpting provider and a plastic surgeon with training and understanding in CoolSculpting.  We’re happy to guide the conversation and help along the journey. We’ll point you towards the best option for you, even if it means veering you away from CoolSculpting (*insert sound of heart breaking*) because we’d rather you be thrilled with your results than anything else.


We’re here to offer honest, no-pressure, and no-judgment conversations to the customers in Dallas looking for body contouring. We know it can be confusing, and we’re here to help. We’ve had those questions ourselves. We’ve been in your shoes, wanting answers. It’s the foundation of why we do what we do.


Give us a call or book your virtual consultation online to learn more about the differences between CoolSculpting and Liposuction. All we do is CoolSculpting, but we’ve got knowledge around the competition. It’s good form.


We’re here to guide the decision in body contouring and help in any way we can.


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