Houston Plastic Surgeon Dr. Basu Answers Your Questions About Non-Surgical Fat Reduction
Here at Basu Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery, we meet many patients looking to reduce fat in areas of their body. While liposuction has a long track record of success, we are pleased to also offer CoolSculpting, a fat reduction technique that requires no surgery or injections. Because CoolSculpting is a newer technology, many patients are surprised by it; they come into our office expecting to need surgery, only to find that CoolSculpting is the perfect solution for their fat reduction goals.
But, like any procedure, CoolSculpting isn’t right for everyone. To clarify some common questions that patients considering nonsurgical fat reduction bring to our office, we sat down with Dr. Basu to get the expert’s answers.
Should I have liposuction or CoolSculpting?
Making the right choice when considering liposuction vs CoolSculpting will depend on three main factors: your body contouring goals, the timeframe you want to see results, and your lifestyle. Following are key considerations that can help you choose between liposuction and CoolSculpting:
- CoolSculpting works best for small areas that need only subtle contouring. For example, it can help shrink your belly somewhat, but it isn’t well-suited to creating a new hourglass waist if your body doesn’t already tend towards that shape. Look at our before and after photo gallery to get a sense of what CoolSculpting has done for our patients.
- Liposuction provides more sculpting options. Liposuction cannulas give your plastic surgeon much more precise control over fat cell removal; liposuction also allows for removing a greater volume of fat. Additionally, the surgeon immediately sees the effects of liposuction and can better sculpt your desired shape during surgery.
- CoolSculpting is great if you want to keep your fat reduction treatments secret. Because it creates gradual fat loss over time, no one needs to know you have had a cosmetic procedure. Your friends and acquaintances will simply think you lost a little weight.
- Liposuction is faster; just weeks after surgery you’ll be enjoying results. There is a chance that you won’t meet your goals with CoolSculpting until you’ve had multiple treatments, and it will take months for the results to show up.
- CoolSculpting is nonsurgical and requires no downtime, so this can be preferable for fat reduction patients who can’t afford the time away from their responsibilities or have a health condition that makes surgery unsafe.
- Liposuction can be used to “harvest” your unwanted fat for fat injection to rejuvenate the face and hands, or to add contour in the breast and buttocks.
With all of these factors coming in to play, it’s best to work with a board certified plastic surgeon who offers both CoolSculpting and liposuction and can help you choose which is truly the best option for your needs.
How does CoolSculpting work?
Here are the steps that will happen in your CoolSculpting treatment, which you can expect to take about an hour:
- You’ll be seated in a comfortable, reclined chair.
- We will place a gel pad on the treatment area to protect your skin and ensure even distribution of the cool temperature.
- We will place the CoolSculpting device on the gel pad, and it will “vacuum” the skin up towards the device. This applies a near-freezing temperature to the area. You will feel discomfort, i.e. pinching or tugging at first, but this wears off as the cool temperature numbs the area.
- You can cover up with a blanket and relax, read, or browse the internet while the CoolSculpting device works.
The controlled cool temperature triggers the crystallization of treated fat cells, telling the body to remove them. This process is called “cryolipolysis.” Over the course of the next couple of months, your body naturally metabolizes those cells, and the area will gradually appear slimmer. The final results should be visible to you in about 3-4 months.
Where can I have CoolSculpting?
Common areas where CoolSculpting is used for nonsurgical fat reduction include the inner thighs, “love handles” or flanks, abdomen, and upper arms.
This image details the many other areas that CoolSculpting can treat: under the chin, men’s chest area, back fat near the shoulders, upper arms, bra fat, flanks, upper and lower abdomen, inner and outer thighs, “banana roll” below the buttocks, above the front of the knee, and the inner knee.
At Basu Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery, we offer “Dualsculpting,” which allows you to treat two areas with CoolSculpting at once. This is especially important and convenient when you want symmetrical treatment in a matched spot on both sides of your body, such as the love handles.
How many CoolSculpting treatments do I need?
While a number of patients see results after one treatment, most patients need two CoolSculpting treatments to see the change they hope to achieve in a treated area. In some cases, more than two treatments may be recommended. Keep in mind that CoolSculpting is most effective for patients who are within 20 pounds of their ideal body weight.
Beware of surgical practices or medispas that “guarantee” you results with only one treatment or make any other unrealistic claims. Also, CoolSculpting may seem simple, but getting pleasing results requires aesthetic skills and experience, so be sure to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with proven CoolSculpting results. When you come to our practice for a consultation, we will provide medically accurate treatment information and prescribe a realistic plan based on your goals.
When will I see CoolSculpting results?
It usually takes a few months to see satisfying results. While you may see positive change sooner, the body continues to metabolize treated fat cells for up to 4 months, and you will continue to see slimming in the area for that period of time.
Because the fat cells diminish gradually after treatment, your provider should take precise photos at intervals to track your results. At home, you can take photos as well, or use a particular piece of clothing that is tight in the area you want to reduce to assess the difference over time. A scale (even a precise digital version) isn’t helpful when measuring results as the gradual changes brought about with cryolipolysis would be masked by normal day-to-day weight fluctuations.
How much does CoolSculpting cost?
CoolSculpting costs are calculated per treatment, so the cost depends on the number of treatments you require. In our office, the cost per treatment for a smaller area begins around $1500. Our office offers financing options as well as VIP Memberships to help patients budget for the cost of a procedure.
Does CoolSculpting hurt?
Some patients say it hurts a little, while others say it doesn’t really bother them. It is certain that you will feel something, mostly a pinching and sucking sensation as the vacuum begins the procedure. Any initial sensitivity will subside towards numbness as the cool temperature takes hold in the treated area.
What are the side effects of CoolSculpting?
CoolSculpting side effects are usually temporary, mild, and localized to the treatment area. Patients report bruising, redness, soreness, numbness, tingling, and swelling. Quite a few patients experience numbness that lasts for a few weeks, or a delayed tingling feeling.
While more studies are merited to understand the issue, there is also a rare but treatable side effect called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH)—colloquially called the “stick of butter” side effect. In PAH, the treatment area enlarges in response to CoolSculpting, anywhere between 8 and 24 weeks following the treatment. This is not a medically dangerous side effect, and the enlarged area of fat can be remedied with liposuction should it occur. Our surgical center uses the most up-to-date technology and techniques for CoolSculpting; we have completed more than 1200 CoolSculpting procedures and have not seen any instances of this very rare response.
Talk to Us About Your Non-Surgical Fat Reduction Options in Houston
While it’s important to research and learn about the risks and benefits of a procedure, your final decision should be made in consultation with a trusted, board-certified plastic surgeon with experience in a full range of fat reduction techniques. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Basu has performed over 1200 CoolSculpting treatments to date. Schedule a consultation by calling the office at (713) 799-2278 or contacting us online.