CoolSculpting is a branded, FDA-approved form of fat reduction called cryolipolysis. CoolSculpting and other forms of cryolipolysis use freezing temperatures to break down fat cells. Cold does not damage other cells in the way it does fat cells, and so there should be no damage to the skin or underlying tissue.
During the procedure, the practitioner vacuums the skin above the area of fatty tissue into an applicator that cools the fat cells. The cold temperatures numb the area, and some people report feeling a cooling sensation. Most CoolSculpting procedures take around an hour. There is no recovery time because there is no damage to the skin or tissue. Some people report soreness at the site of CoolSculpting, similar to that they might have after an intense workout or minor muscle injury.
CoolSculpting and other forms of cryolipolysis have a high success rate. They are effective for removing areas of fat from the body, and have fewer side effects than other procedures, such as liposuction.
Though this procedure can remove areas of fat, it is not a miracle cure, and people should not expect to see a complete removal of fat. The procedure will not work for everybody, and some people may experience worse side effects than others.
Lifestyle and other factors may also play a role. A person who continues to eat an unhealthful diet and remains sedentary while undergoing CoolSculpting can expect less fat reduction. Likewise, CoolSculpting cannot tighten loose skin. If the skin has stretched around fatty buildups, a person may have excess skin after the procedure to remove the fat.
Research generally points towards CoolSculpting being a relatively safe and effective treatment for removing some areas of fat.
Researchers found that when the studies had measured fat reduction with a caliper, which is a tool similar to a ruler, people lost an average of 14.67 to 28.5 percent of the fat in areas treated by cryolipolysis. When the studies measured the fat reduction with ultrasound, people lost 10.3 percent to 25.5 percent.
The authors found no major health risk factors associated with the procedure. There was no reduction in liver function or lipid levels, meaning that CoolSculpting is purely a cosmetic procedure. Moreover, freezing away fat without making other lifestyle changes may not improve a person's overall health.
CoolSculpting destroys fat cells, and those particular cells will not return.
However, science knows little about the long-term effects or effectiveness of CoolSculpting. Most studies have followed subjects for only a few months after treatment.
Destroying existing fat cells will not prevent new fat cells from appearing. Hence, why a healthy lifestyle is vital to preserve the results of CoolSculpting. A person who does not exercise or who eats an unhealthy diet may soon see the fat return.