CoolSculpting vs Liposuction: Which One Is Better For You?

In the world of cosmetic surgery, innovative surgical and non-surgical techniques are continually developed. They help to meet the needs and desires of the people more efficiently and adequately. CoolSculpting has gained quite some traction recently.

Since the procedure intends to sculpt and contour the body by getting rid of resistant fat pockets, many people wonder what makes it different from liposuction. To make the right decision, you need to know the details of the CoolSculpting vs liposuction debate. 

What Is CoolSculpting? 

CoolSculpting is the brand name of the surgical procedure that aims to remove stubborn fat beneath by “delivering controlled cooling at the surface of the skin”. It has FDA clearance for fat removal in the following areas: 

  • Chin
  • Jawline
  • Thighs
  • Abdomen
  • Flanks
  • Bra bulge
  • Back
  • Upper arm
  • Banana rolls (fat rolls underneath the buttocks)

CoolSculpting is not considered a treatment for weight loss. Moreover, it doesn’t act as an alternative to liposuction, diet, or exercise. Unlike liposuction, the procedure doesn’t physically vacuum out fat cells from the body. It is a prescription-only device, so only a physician can use it to perform the treatment.

The fat cells are broken down and processed inside the body, which is why it can take 1-3 months for you to see the results following a CoolSculpting procedure. The final results can take as long as 6 months to show. It is not necessary that you get the same results as someone else who has undergone the same treatment. 

What Is The Procedure of CoolSculpting?

To perform CoolSculpting, the surgeon will hold the target area in between the paddles of the device. They may use a vacuum to draw the tissue into the cup of the applicator. You may feel tugging and pinching as a result.

As the area begins to cool, you might feel very uncomfortable initially. You might feel pain, cramping, stinging and tingling, but once the area becomes numb, you won’t have to deal with these problems.

The physician will leave the applicator in place. The whole procedure can take from 1-3 hours. Once it’s done, the physician might massage the area. You might feel slightly uncomfortable because of it. However, it is performed to break down the fat and smooth the bulge that forms because of the freezing.

As far as the recovery time is concerned, CoolSculpting being non-invasive, allows its patients to get back to their lives soon after. Possibly, you might feel sore after the procedure. But you’ll start feeling better a few weeks after.

Does CoolSculpting Really Work? 

CoolSculpting makes use of a technique called cryolipolysis. The idea for it came from the study of frostbite. The device used in the CoolSculpting procedure freezes the fat in the target area using controlled cooling. This helps destroy the fat cells while your skin and other body tissues remain uninjured.

The fat cells targeted by the CoolSculpting technology are processed by the body. They move to the lymphatic system, where they are slowly removed from the body as waste. CoolSculpting technique claims to destroy 20-25% of fat cells in the target area. 

What Is Liposuction?

Liposuction is an invasive surgical procedure that also aims to remove stubborn fat cells from different areas of the body, such as:

  • Abdomen
  • Buttocks
  • Face (cheeks, neck, chin)
  • Legs (thighs, calves, and ankles)
  • Arms
  • Back
  • Around the waist (love handles)

In this, the surgeon makes incisions and inserts a cannula to break the fat, which is then vacuumed out. Liposuction is also not a weight loss procedure. It only removes the “jiggly” subcutaneous fat underneath the skin. This surgery can effectively and safely remove fat.

CoolSculpting vs Liposuction: Which One’s Better For You? 

When it comes to deciding between CoolSculpting vs liposuction for fat removal, it’s important to be clear on the differences between the two procedures:

Procedure Aims

Before choosing between CoolSculpting vs liposuction, you should get an assessment for the amount of fat that needs to be removed. If you have mild to moderate stubborn fat pockets in an area of the body, CoolSculpting can help you.

However, if you have a large amount of fat spread over a large area, CoolSculpting will not be able to give you satisfactory results. Since liposuction is an invasive procedure, it can dramatically change the body’s contour in the way you want. Here, it should also be noted that CoolSculpting is FDA-approved for only certain areas of the body; liposuction can be performed on those and additional areas like calves, ankles, and cheeks.

Also, if you’re considering a fat grafting procedure, liposuction would be the better choice. That’s because the fat that is removed from one area of the body is surgically placed in another area of the body in which you desire more volume. For instance, the fat from the abdomen can be placed in the buttocks in a Brazilian butt lift (BBL).

Good Candidates

Both “CoolSculpting vs liposuction” are not intended to make you lose weight. They can improve the contour of your body, accentuating the curves hidden beneath fat cells. So, for both these treatments, a good candidate is someone who is close to their ideal weight and is in good health.

You should know that since CoolSculpting aims to remove small amounts of fat, skin laxity is not an issue. Your skin is unlikely to sag once the fat is removed from the body. However, in the case of liposuction, where large amounts of fat can be removed, skin laxity can be an issue. You may be left with sagging skin that doesn’t “snap back.”

However, to not have that happen, many people combine a tummy tuck or other lifting surgeries with liposuction. These surgeries remove excess hanging skin, leaving a toned skin surface.

Convenience & Recovery

When it comes to deciding between CoolSculpting vs liposuction, many people take convenience into consideration. CoolSculpting requires multiple sessions, and each session can cause certain discomforts like:

  • Numbness
  • Tenderness
  • Stinging
  • Pain (especially when the skin is massaged afterwards)
  • Tugging

Some of these side effects can last for more than a couple of weeks. Also, keep in mind that no anaesthesia is given before CoolSculpting because it’s not required. However,  CoolSculpting has the benefit of having no downtime, so people can resume their normal activities right after.

Liposuction, on the other hand, is a one-time procedure. The surgery takes place under anaesthesia, so you won’t feel any pain. But since liposuction is an invasive procedure, the recovery will take a little longer. You might need to take a couple of weeks off work to allow the surgical area to heal.

Unlike CoolSculpting, which takes 1-3 months to show results, you should be able to notice a change in the target area after liposuction. However, because of the swelling, you need to wait for 3-6 months to see the final results.


Once you’ve had either CoolSculpting vs liposuction, you need to continue your diet and exercise routine in order to maintain the results. These procedures are not a substitute for them. Even after the fat has been removed, it can again get deposited in those areas. That’s because our genes influence where the fat is stored in the body.

CoolSculpting vs Liposuction: What’s The Difference?

Following is the summary of CoolSculpting vs liposuction:

CoolSculpting  Liposuction 
Procedure  Target area is suctioned into an applicator and cooled down, followed by a massage  Incisions are made for the insertion of a cannula, which is moved back and forth to break the fat; it is then vacuumed out of the body
Surgical Time  30-60 minutes, with at least 1 month in between sessions 1-5 hours (varies depending on the target area and surgical technique) 
Visible Results After 1-3 months  Notice immediate change, but swelling can take 3-6 months to go away
Longevity  Permanent (if you continue to maintain a stable weight)  Permanent (if you continue to maintain a stable weight) 
Amount of Fat Removed 20-25% of fat cells eliminated from the target area  Can remove up to 5 litres (≈11 pounds) of fat from the target area
Number of Sessions  Usually between 1-3 (varies depending on the target area and amount of fat)  One-time surgery 
Contraindications  People who have cold urticaria, cryoglobulinemia, cold agglutinin disease, or paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria  People who have a heart problems, diabetes, blood clotting disorder and pregnant women
Side Effects   Mild pinching, pulling, tugging, tingling, aching, and cramping during treatment and itchiness, blanching, bruising, swelling, redness, tenderness, and minimal pain afterwards  No pain during the surgery due to anaesthesia, but temporary pain, bruising, swelling, redness, numbness, and soreness afterwards

CoolSculpting vs Liposuction Cost 

CoolSculpting vs liposuction costs are quite different. According to the company itself, the average cost of a CoolSculpting treatment is ≈£2,600. However, some people also pay as much as £4,000. The cost per session can vary depending on the target area and the total number of sessions you need.

On the other hand, liposuction can cost anywhere between £2,000 to £6,000 in the UK, according to the NHS. Since the surgery is done for cosmetic purposes, it’s not available on the NHS, so you’ll be getting it privately. The cost can vary depending on the target area, location of the location, and the experience of the surgeon. However, since healthcare in Turkey is relatively affordable, liposuction in the country starts from £1500.

Concluding Remarks

CoolSculpting vs liposuction is something that many people have to decide between if they want to get rid of stubborn fat from different areas of the body. Keep in mind that the treatment goals of both procedures are different.

You should first discuss your needs and expectations with the doctor and they’ll recommend a suitable treatment plan to you based on the fat in your target area, skin laxity, and medical history.

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