Liposuction vs. CoolSculpting®: When to Choose Each Procedure

Learn more about liposuction at our plastic surgery practice in St. Louis

Fat reduction. Of all the things we do here at St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery, it may have the broadest appeal. Nearly everyone has unwanted pockets of fat to get rid of, and most people – male and female — have an ideal body shape in mind.

Liposuction and CoolSculpting are the 2 prevailing procedures for fat reduction at our practice, and part of our job is helping patients decide which procedure will be best for them.

The Basics

Let’s start with a clear understanding of the 2 procedures themselves.

  • Liposuction is surgical, involving local anesthetic with sedation, or general anesthetic (depending on the treatment area). The surgeon uses a cannula to separate the fat from surrounding tissues and suction it. At our practice, we perform power-assisted liposuction, or PAL. We prefer PAL to other forms of liposuction because the gently vibrating cannula helps break up the fat for easier suctioning. This means less back-and-forth motion, less damage to the surrounding tissues, and (generally) a quicker recovery than traditional liposuction.
  • CoolSculpting is nonsurgical and noninvasive, requiring no anesthetic, incisions, or needles. During a treatment session, the CoolSculpting machine gently pulls the tissue between 2 cooling panels and freezes the fat. Patients describe an immediate chilling sensation, but otherwise describe the 1-hour treatment as comfortable. Often, patients bring a book or magazine or catch up on work emails during their sessions.

The results of CoolSculpting develop over 3 months following the procedure. This is because CoolSculpting causes the fat cells to break down, which in turn encourages the body to naturally metabolize them from over time.

When Liposuction Is Best

Learn more about liposcuction at our St. Louis plastic surgery practice

Liposuction, whether traditional or PAL, has long been heralded for its ability to create sculpted, slimmer contours in the hands of a skilled surgeon. Because it’s surgical and controlled by the surgeon, there are simply more possibilities. Liposuction works well on the knees, hips, thighs, flanks, abdomen, upper arms, buttocks, neck, and other areas, too. The surgeon is able to sculpt and reshape the treatment area, and more fat can be suctioned.

On the other hand, liposuction is still surgery with some associated drawbacks: Patients will need to take it easy for a few days; they may need prescribed pain medication; there will be swelling and bruising, and they must wear a compression garment over the treated area for several weeks.

To sum up, liposuction is probably best in the following scenarios:

  • You want immediate fat reduction.
  • You have isolated fat in an area not suited for CoolSculpting.
  • Your treatment areas require targeted sculpting, as opposed to general reduction.

When CoolSculpting Is Best

Learn more about CoolSculpting at our St. Louis plastic surgery practice

In our experience, the best CoolSculpting patients have areas around the midsection where they can “pinch an inch” or more. It’s very effective at reducing fat where diet and exercise have not led to adequate changes, particularly the love handles, muffin top, or bra bulge. The other major advantage to CoolSculpting: There’s no downtime at all. Patients can go about their business as soon as they leave the office. Some discomfort and swelling are normal, but it’s seldom strong enough to keep you from your normal activities.

Keep in mind that while you will see noticeable results after a single treatment session, you will need to have additional sessions for the best possible result.

To sum up, CoolSculpting may be best in the following scenarios:

  • You would like to reduce the fat on your abdomen, flanks, or back by 20 to 25%.
  • You are not interested in surgery or the associated anesthesia, incisions, or downtime.
  • You are willing to wait for results to emerge gradually, and undergo follow-up treatments if necessary.

Neither One Is Good for Weight Loss

It’s worth noting that neither procedure is meant as a way to lose weight. Before seriously considering liposuction or CoolSculpting, it’s very important that you be at or near your goal weight. From there, we can happily help create the contours you want.

Interested in learning more about these procedures? The next step is to come see us in person. Please contact us to request a consultation, or give us a call at (636) 530-9020.

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