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CoolSculpting – Ready or Not!

By: Emily Mersman PA-C

Do you remember playing hide and go seek as a kid? If you were the “seeker,” you would count to 20 and shout “Ready or not, here I come…” as a way of warning those that were hiding from you that you were coming looking for them regardless of whether they were actually ready? Well, at the Centre for Plastic Surgery, we think you should be “Ready” and equipped with all of the knowledge you need to make an educated decision about whether a product or procedure is a good option for you. As I talk with patients who visit our Grand Rapids based Plastic Surgery center about CoolSculpting, I frequently am asked 5 common questions. I’d like to share with you the answers to those questions as I think it might be helpful for you as you get ready and consider this exciting procedure.

1) How does CoolSculpting work?

The CoolSculpting machine works by exposing your fat bulge against two cooling panels. The cooling panels are activated to the specific temperature where fat cells are vulnerable and die. The mechanism of action is Cryolipolisis which cools the adipose tissue to induce lipolysis (breaking down fat cells). The cooled fat cells undergo apoptosis (controlled cell death) which leads to the release of cytokines and other inflammatory mediators. Inflammatory cells gradually digest the affected fat cells (phagocytosis). Approximately 20-30% of these fat cells are killed and the lipids from the fat cells are transported through the lymphatic system. Your body goes through a cleaning process and the cells are eliminated over several weeks, reducing the thickness of the fat layer. The procedure takes 1 hour. Fat is uniquely susceptible to cold while sparing all other tissue. Your skin, nerves, blood vessels, etc are not affected.

2) Who is the best candidate? Translation: Is it right for me?

Ideal candidates are within 20-30 pounds of their ideal body weight that have stubborn areas of fat… if you’ve ever dieted or exercised and have had a tough time “shedding” those last few pounds, this might be a viable solution for you. It works best to treat a “fat bulge” or specific area of fat for spot reduction. Most common examples include the lower abdomen and “love handles”. It is also FDA approved for the flanks and inner/outer thighs. The procedure is not intended for weight loss or obesity. It is a body contouring procedure. If I had to describe the area of opportunity in “non-medical” terms, it would have to be the infamous term “muffin top.”

3) What are the results and are they permanent?

It takes approximately 2-4 months to begin to notice results and it has been shown that fat layer reduction persists for at least 6 months. We do not grow new fat cells as adults so the results are permanent, however it is still possible to gain weight. The fat cells remaining in that area get larger or shrink with weight loss or weight gain. Two treatments in 1 area are recommended for total transformation, which typically result in a 40-60% fat cell reduction.

4) What are the possible side effects?

Common temporary side effects include soreness, redness, bruising or swelling. You may also experience transient numbness or tingling which can last a few days to a couple weeks. You are able to resume all activities immediately after the procedure.

5) Why choose CoolSculpting over other non-invasive procedures or liposuction?

CoolSculpting is a safe, non-invasive procedure without any downtime or the surgical risk associated with liposuction. Other non-invasive procedures including but not limited to, lasers, focused ultrasound and radio frequency use heat which stimulates a necrotic process as opposed to the Cryolipolysis mechanism of action used during CoolSculpting. The heat leads your body to go through a healing process instead of a cleaning process. The heat leads to wound healing, collagen and possible scar tissue development. It may tighten the connective tissue holding the fat cells in place but there is no permanent reduction of fat or fat cells with these devices. It may also affect other adjacent tissue that is not comparable to the CoolSculpting method of Cryoliposysis.

We’ve seen some tremendously positive results in our patients who have a elected to go with the CoolSculpting procedure. Please keep in mind that it’s not a fit for everybody. The best way to determine whether this procedure might be a viable option for you would be to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation. We’ll discuss the pros and cons to this procedure and what the potential benefits could be for you.

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