People who deal with extra-fat problems know how frustrating it can be to get no results from diets and exercise. After trying just about anything, surgery is the chosen option for many. Fortunately, cosmetic surgery keeps evolving and surprising us, as more non-invasive methods become available. CoolSculpting is one of these treatments and has been given good reviews both by doctors and patients. Its results are considered significant, durable and reliable to remove fat, without the risks and recovery period associated with an invasive procedure like liposuction.
How Does CoolSculpting Work?
CoolSculpting, also known as Zeltiq, is an FDA-approved non-invasive fat reducing procedure created by Zeltiq, a global medical device company. It is commonly used to treat those areas of the body that easily accumulate fat – waist (love handles), hips, upper and lower abdomen, bra line and mid-back. The technical name for the body contouring method used by Zeltiq is cryolipolysis (cryo = icy cold + lipolysis = chemical decomposition of fat), the cooling of the adipose tissue just above the freezing point to induce lipolysis, permanently damaging fat cells but without damaging other tissues. The body then “thinks” the fat has been melted and starts to eliminate it over time by the natural metabolic process.
Research has shown that fat cells respond to extreme cold. This means that they are more vulnerable to cooling (energy extraction) than any surrounding tissues. Therefore, they can be selectively and permanently eliminated with no pain involved. When cooled just above the freezing point, fat turns from liquid to solid (much like butter) and over the next few weeks after the treatment, that cooled fat will start the apoptosis process (controlled cell death), which leads to a release of inflammatory mediators such as cytokines.
Within the next months, these inflammatory cells gradually digest the fat cells. The lipids resulting from those cells are then metabolized like any other food fat – they are transported by the lymphatic system and then processed out of the body. As this happens, the circumference shrinks around the treated body areas (sometimes up to one centimeter with a single treatment).
Just to highlight the previous point – Do you see the palm of your hand? During the treatment, doctors are able to treat around 2 to 3 areas (one area per hour) about the size of your palm, removing up to 25% of the fat lodged in each one of those areas.
How is CoolSculpting Performed?
Being a non-invasive treatment, CoolSculpting does not involve the use of needles or surgery. It is done in a doctor’s office with the assistance of a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist. The area to be treated is marked and covered with a gel pad to protect the skin. During the procedure, the doctor uses a vacuum applicator that specifically targets fat cells to cool them down in a controlled way, without affecting surface skin tissue, nerves and muscles. The applicator draws tissue into a cup and holds it gently between two cooling panels to extract the heat of the selected fat cells.
Patients feel a sensation of cold (much like when you apply an ice pack) which disappears as the area becomes numb. The procedure is monitored via two sensors embedded in the applicator to adjust the cooling throughout the treatment. A paging system alerts when the procedure is complete.
There’s no need for pain medication or anesthesia since the treatment only causes a light discomfort. During the 2 to 3 hour procedure, some patients choose to read, watch TV or listen to music.
What Is the Difference Between CoolSculpting and Liposuction?
• CoolSculpting is non-surgical, whereas liposuction involves small incisions.
• The fat disruption process is different – In CoolSculpting, fat cells are naturally eliminated by the metabolic process, whereas liposuction forces the suction of fat cells out of the body and to do so, it often needs to first destroy them with fluid, laser or ultrasound energy.
• No recovery time is needed after CoolSculpting but liposuction requires a few days up to one week of downtime.
• Zeltiq results are not as dramatic as liposuction.
How Long Do CoolSculpting Results Last?
Since the fat cells are actually eliminated, the CoolSculpting results are considered to be permanent. Around 25% of the unwanted fat can be removed in a single treatment. Slight contour differences are visible after three weeks but dramatic results may take between 3 to 6 months to be seen. This is the period of time the body needs to naturally eliminate the fat. Some patients may actually need a second treatment, which can be done after two to four months, reducing another 20% of fat.
Recovery and Side Effects
There is no recovery period after Zeltiq. Once the treatment is over the patient goes home. Redness is a natural effect of CoolSculpting and may persist for a couple of days. Bruises and soreness are rare but can occur for a couple of weeks, whereas a small change in sensation on the treated area can last about up to two months. Apart from these, no side effects are known to CoolSculpting. And since fat cells are gradually eliminated from the body by a natural process, no organs are negatively impacted.
How Much Does CoolSculpting Cost?
CoolSculpting is usually charged per fat bulge. The doctor counts how many bulges you want (and can) eliminated and then price it. The price range is between $ 750 and $ 975 for each bulge. You can do some simple math, knowing that the lower abdomen has two bulges and love handles one bulge each. Sometimes patients can think they have a bulge when it’s really just excess skin. In this case, it cannot be removed.
CoolSculpting is considered to be a cosmetic procedure and, therefore, not covered by medical insurance.
Am I a Good Candidate for CoolSculpting?
CoolSculpting is generally recommended for people who are not considered overweight but still have pockets of extra fat, despite exercise and diet. It can sometimes happen that their amount of fat is not enough to guarantee a successful liposuction. In these cases, CoolsSculpting is ideal. Such people usually have small to medium size pockets of fat and wish to avoid an invasive liposuction treatment.
Zeltiq is not intended for cellulite and obesity problems, and does not substitute liposuction. If you have moderate amount of fat that you wish to eliminate, CoolSculpting can be a good option.
Being a non-invasive treatment, CoolSculpting is considered safe but it still a cosmetic procedure which interferes with your body; therefore. you need to ensure your doctor has the certified training to use the Zeltiq applicator safely and effectively.
Read more on Zeltiq CoolSculpting
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