Despite how much you watch what you eat and exercise, you might still be bothered by pockets of fat that prevent you from feeling confident in how you look. Liposuction and CoolSculpting are two very different procedures that are designed to reduce unwanted fatty deposits. With both procedures producing a similar outcome in the end, how do you decide which is best for you? Let us break down the differences between the two so that you can make the best decision for you.
Liposuction was developed in the 1980’s and has been around a lot longer than CoolSculping. There are now many types of liposuction including Suction Assisted Lipectomy (SAL) – the original technique but still a great one and Laser Assisted Liposuction (LAL) that uses laser energy. Despite the different approaches, all of these techniques can work well, and none is clearly superior over the other.
Liposuction is performed as an outpatient procedure using general anesthesia. A very small incision is made in the skin and a cannula will be placed. A cannula is a special tool that helps loosen the fat as it is being vacuumed out. Once the desired amount of fatty tissue has been eliminated, Dr. Lawrence will close the incision. Depending on the number of areas being treated, your surgery could last 1 – 3 hours. The type of anesthesia you will need depends on the area(s) to be treated and the amount of fat that needs to be removed. In general, the more areas that you treat, the more sedation or full general anesthesia you will need. The incisions for liposuction are small, typically less than 1/4 inch, so there isn’t much scarring. There is, however, a recovery period that lasts for a few weeks – bruising and swelling are most common. Patients can usually resume light exercise after a few days.
As opposed to liposuction, CoolSculpting is a non-invasive procedure that doesn’t require anesthesia at all. The CoolSculpting system includes a disposable gel pad that is placed over the treatment area. A cooling head is then placed over the gel pad and suction is activated. The machine has a base that cools the liquid flowing through the headpiece and pulls the fatty area into the head, therefore, freezing the fat. After an hour or so (or two hours for a non-suction treatment type) the cooling head is removed and the frozen area is massaged briefly. Although there can be some discomfort when the tissue is first pulled into the cooling head, this becomes numb once the cooling starts and the massage doesn’t hurt. Like liposuction, it takes a few weeks to see the final result, and although there really isn’t much pain, like liposuction, the treated area can feel a little tender for a while.
Liposuction is the more aggressive treatment of the two, allowing more fat to be removed in a single session. Because CoolSculpting removes less fat per treatment, patients may need several sessions of CoolSculpting to get their optimal result. CoolSculpting can be a great option for smaller fatty deposits. It is also a great choice for patients that are keen to avoid surgery, either for personal preference or because of health issues that may increase the risk of surgery.
In the long run the choice of which is best for you depends on you – how you feel about it, what issues are the most important, and how aggressive you want to be in removing the fat. If avoiding surgery is super important to you, and you’ll accept less dramatic results in order to do so, then CoolSculping might be your best option. On the other hand, if you’d rather get as much fat off as possible, and would rather do this in one session instead of several, then liposuction may be your best bet.
Having a variety of modalities and options to treat each patient individually is something unique to Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons. Dr. Marisa Lawrence is double board certified and is dedicated to offering choices between the safest and most effective treatments, which ultimately saves you both time and money.
Schedule your consultation today. We will work with you to create a customized treatment plan that will fit your needs best.