CoolSculpting is one of the most popular non-surgical body contouring procedures on the market. It uses cryolipolysis to freeze and destroy fat cells, leaving you with a trimmer, more toned appearance. But does CoolSculpting have side effects?
This technique is fairly new. It was approved by the FDA in 2012. The number of clinical research studies is small, but CoolSculpting claims to lower the number of fat cells in the treatment area by 20-25%. Many people notice results just days after the procedure, but optimal results will take a few months to show.
Side Effects of CoolSculpting
While the research is limited, CoolSculpting is still considered to be a safer form of fat reduction. It is noninvasive, meaning there are no incisions, no surgery, no needles. This makes it less risky than traditional surgeries like liposuction.
During the procedure, most patients do not feel anything except a slight tugging sensation on the skin. Since the procedure doesn’t involve cutting, anesthesia, or tissue manipulation, patients are free to resume normal activities right after treatment. Most side effects of the treatment are minor and only last a few days, but it is normal to experience numbness in the treatment area for around a month. Immediate side effects include:
- Minor swelling
- Pinching sensation
- Skin sensitivity
- Mild to moderate pain
- Muscle cramping
These side effects may last a few days or weeks after the procedure. Other common side effects include itchiness, especially in the days following the procedure, diarrhea because of the dead fat cells being removed from the body. If you undergo treatments involving the chin or neck area, you may experience a feeling of fullness in the treatment area.
As with most other procedures, your risk of side effects and complications will depend on the professional performing your procedure. Always chose a trusted, experienced professional like a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
The full extent of risks, side effects, and associated complications are still unknown. CoolSculpting is only approved and proven effective on a limited number of body areas. These include:
- Under the armpit
- Under the chin or upper neck
- Buttocks and under the buttocks
Should I Avoid CoolSculpting?
CoolSculpting is considered a safe and effective way of reducing fat cells in a targeted area. It is not a treatment for obesity, however. This procedure is better suited for those who have a small amount of stubborn, unwanted fat.
People with weakened immune systems or conditions that change the body’s ability to handle cold are not good candidates for CoolSculpting. Other conditions that make you ineligible for CoolSculpting are:
- pregnancy, attempting to become pregnant, and breast-feeding
- cryoglobulinemia, a disorder where proteins that usually only increase in response to cold are in abnormally high concentrations
- cold agglutinin disease, an autoimmune condition where temperature change kills red blood cells
- paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria, a condition where red blood cells die in response to temperature change
- Raynaud’s disease
- reduced circulation or skin sensation at the treatment area
- nerve conditions, such as diabetic neuropathy
- skin conditions related to the immune system, such as eczema and psoriasis
- inflammatory skin conditions, such as dermatitis and hives
- a recent injury to the skin area being treated, including scar tissue
- long-term use of blood-thinning medications
- bleeding conditions that thin the blood
- history of a hernia or a hernia in or near the treatment area
- active, implanted medical devices, such as pacemakers
- allergy to propylene glycol or isopropyl alcohol
- chronic pain conditions
- severe anxiety disorders
Long-Term Side Effects
In rare cases, fat cells respond to CoolSculpting by enlarging instead of dying. This is called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). Researchers are not sure why this occurs. Other rare complications of CoolSculpting include:
- changes to skin color
- reduced movement of the tongue following procedures of the neck and chin
- reduced saliva production and dry mouth following neck and chin procedures
- lower lip muscle weakness following procedures of the neck and chin
- frostbite, or first and second-degree freeze burns
- dizziness, lightheadedness, sweating, nausea, and flushing
- subcutaneous induration
- hyperpigmentation, or dark skin coloration
- abrupt and undesirable changes in fat layering
Benefits of CoolSculpting
CoolSculpting, unlike exercise and diet, actually destroys fat cells rather than just shrinking them. This means the same fat cells can never return. It’s important to note however, that with weight gain the remaining fat cells can grow larger.
Other benefits of CoolSculpting include:
- it is a low-risk procedure for many
- very low risk of infection and scarring
- few cases of an adverse reaction are reported
- natural results
- no downtime required
- targets unwanted fat in specific areas
- less risk of regaining the weight since fat cells are destroyed and removed
- low risk of skin dimpling or bumps since fat cells are destroyed evenly
Schedule an Appointment for CoolSculpting in Washington DC
Overall, this procedure is a great way to boost self-confidence. Especially when it is combined with a healthy diet and active lifestyle. The research may be limited, but what exists shows that CoolSculpting is a low-risk option for fat reduction.