How CoolSculpting & CoolMini Freeze Stubborn Fat & Make You Beautiful [Free Infographic]
But first, why They're So Popular
Think for a moment. Most everyone can agree that both Sophia Loren and Gigi Hadid are beautiful. But why is that? They look very different. Granted, there's a huge age difference, but let's put that aside for now.
Now think of Gigi Hadid. She's the current IT model. Everyone knows her name and she graces many magazine covers. Models who are thin and fit are the height of beauty now.
So why do we still consider both women - and both body types - beautiful?
Psychologists think the answer lies in their waist - hip - ratio (WHR). They get this number by dividing the narrowest part of the waist by the widest part of the hips. Most people find a low WHR (between 0.67 and 0.80) attractive. Even in studies of different cultures this preference holds true. And - surprise! - many of the world's most beautiful women land right at 0.7.
PsychologyToday.com gives this reasoning:
"other things being equal, a lower WHR in these women may indicate that they have not had many (or any) children. This could signal to a potential mate that a female's days of reproductive investment are ahead of her, not behind her."
So for women, whether you're a size 2 or a 12, one key to attractiveness is a small waist in relation to wide hips. It signals to potential mates that you're in good health and fertile.
That also means that any pockets of stubborn fat on your waist or hips that alter the WHR can make you less attractive. Why? The answer again comes from PsychologyToday.com:
"It has been suggested that this is because healthy women have lower waist to hip ratios than uhealthy women. Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and strokes change body-fat distribution, increasing waist-to-hip ratios. Women with lower waist-to-hip ratios also are more fertile, as they have larger amounts of reproductive hormones."
Here's how evolutionary anthropologist, Sean McBride explains it:
"Men and women are constantly scanning each other, and the evolved template in our brains compares your body shape to an ideal that has the highest potential for fertility. So if your fat deposits destroy the hourglass shape, your beauty suffers."
But men don't get off easy either. There's a correlation to health for them too. Healthy men have minimal belly fat; so for both men and women, WHR is a better measure of health than weight, body mass index (BMI), or physical fitness.
And that's where CoolSculpting and other body contouring treatments (like liposuction) come in. They help men and women to maintain their WHR, remove stubborn fat - and feel more attractive.
What is CoolSculpting?
CoolScupting works by cryolipolysis. That's where cold temperatures are used to damage your subcutaneous fat while leaving the overlying skin unharmed. Cryolipolysis is only possible because fat cells are more susceptible to cold than other types of tissue.
That subcutaneous fat is cooled to a temperature that is below body temperature but still above freezing. The fat cells die and there's an inflammatory response (called localized panniculitis) that slowly reduces fat in the treated area.
In the diagram on the left, the subcutaneous fat (labeled as Adipocytes) is on the bottom in yellow.
How was cryolipolysis discovered? How old is it?
Two Harvard dermatologists, Dr. Dieter Manstein and Dr. R. Rox Anderson, were intrigued by a report on teething toddlers who ate popsicles to relieve tooth pain. The doctors investigated and found that these children developed dimples - the cold from the popsicles killed the fat cells in their cheeks.
Does it work? Do people like it?
After the treatment you should expect to look thinner and your clothes will fit better. Because fat weighs less than muscle - and you're losing fat - you should not expect to lose weight.
Chapel Hill dermatologist, Sue Ellen Cox, M.D. likes CoolSculpting.
CoolSculpting "is typically just one or two treatments for a very defined 20 percent to 25 percent reduction of fat. I can also tell you in terms of studies out there, CoolSculpting for noninvasive fat reduction really does have the most.”
Patients seem to like it. CoolSculpting gets an 74% "Worth It" rating on RealSelf.com based on 862 ratings over the last 24 months. It gets a 77% "Worth It" rating on RealSelf.com based on 2,643 ratings over all time.
What's the treatment like?
1. The area you are having treated will be photographed before CoolSculpting.
2. Your provider will examine then mark the area.
3. A transparent gel pad will be placed on the treatment area to protect your skin.
4. There are several different applicator heads which can be used. Most use vacuum suction to keep the applicator in place.
5. The vacuum is turned on and the fat is sucked into a cup where 2 cooling panels numb the area to about 4 degrees Celsius / 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. You'll sit in a recliner for 1 - 2 hours while the panels cool your fat cells.
7. As the treatment progresses and the fat cells cool, they crystallize, die, and then release their fat slowly over the next 2 - 4 months.
8. UCLA professor and plastic surgeon, Jason Roostaeian, says "the procedural setting is so relaxed that patients can bring laptops to do work, enjoy a movie, or simply nap while the machine goes to work."
9. When the machine has finished working, the hand piece is removed. You should expect the area to look red and it will be standing upright - like a stick of butter under your skin. This will disappear quickly with massage.
10. Your provider will massage the area. It helps to break up more of the fat cells and speed their clearance.
11. CoolSculpting is a "no downtime" procedure, so you can go back to your regular activities right away.
Does it hurt?
Dr. Naissan Wesley, who practices in Beverly Hills says,
"Typical responses after treatment include numbness, but some patients may also experience bruising and discomfort, all of which typically last no longer than 2-3 weeks. If discomfort occurs in my patients, I find they report it more often in the lower abdomen than the love handles."
And RealSelf doctors say some patients experience more intense pain, particularly when treated with the largest applicator.
“It is not uncommon to have delayed onset pain after a CoolSculpting procedure especially on the abdomen,” says Dr. Sheila Nazarian. "This pain is more commonly experienced with abdominal Coolsculpting. It starts 3-5 days after the procedure and can last 10 days or so. This pain is nerve based and is best treated with Neurontin. Lidoderm patches help as well and can be placed directly on the area of pain. Ask your physician
Zwivel.com tells how often it happens. "Mild pain, swelling, and numbness are the most common side effects, but medication or time off from work are generally not required. Still, about 1 in 10 patients do experience more moderate to severe pain in the days and weeks after their CoolSculpting treatment. This pain can usually be managed with over the counter medication."
Are there any side effects I should know about?
Immediate side effects that can last for a few weeks after CoolSculpting include redness, firmness, a pinching sensation, minor swelling, tenderness, bruising, stinging, tingling, numbness, skin sensitivity, mild to moderate pain, and muscle cramping.
Other common side effects that a person may experience in the first few weeks after CoolSculpting include:
- Some people feel itchy a few days after the procedure.
- Diarrhea sometimes happens as the dead fat cells are removed from your body.
- Some people get a "feeling of fullness" in their throat after CoolMini neck or chin treatments.
There are some RARE side effects . . .
1. Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia - in some very, very rare cases (0.0051 percent) the fat cells react to CoolSculpting by enlarging instead of dying. We don't know why it happens. We do know that it mostly happens to men about 2 - 5 months after treatment and only surgery can reverse it.
2. Scarring & skin color changes; hyperpigmentation (in the treatment area, skin becomes dark) that usually goes away on its own
3. Reduced tongue movement after neck or chin treatment
4. Weakness of the lower lip muscles after neck or chin treatment
5. Dry mouth / reduced saliva production after treatment of the chin or neck
7. Dizziness, light-headedness, fainting, sweating, panting, nausea & flushing can be caused by a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure. Any of these symptoms would happen either during or immediately after your treatment.
8. Subcutaneous induration - a generalized hardness and / or hard nodules that can be painful
9. Undesirable changes in the fat layers that happen quickly
*These side effects come from the article, What Are the Risks of CoolSculpting? by
Look for an experienced provider!
In general, the more experienced your medical provider, the lower your risk of side effects. Dr. Cox, in an article for Dermatology Times, says her colleagues that offer fat reduction and removal should keep in mind that noninvasive body contouring treatments are being offered at more and more salons, medi spas, etc.
Dr. Mark Edinburg, a plastic surgeon in Sydney, explains more about the lumpy results some people see with inexperienced medical providers giving CoolSculpting treatments:
"Lumpy is not a result of the reduction in the fat, but can occur due to the size and shape of the applicators leaving an area untreated. An experienced appropriately trained and skill therapist should be able to allow for this in planning."
Does CoolSculpting work everywhere?
CoolSculpting is FDA approved for these areas of stubborn fat: the abdomen, thighs, under the chin & upper neck (using the CoolMini applicator), the flanks (love handles / muffin top), upper arms, the back (bra bulge), and the inner & outer thighs.
How much does it cost?
The price of CoolSculpting varies with the number of areas to be treated and the number of treatments needed to achieve the look you want. If you decide to have several areas treated, the best deal will usually be a package that includes treating several areas of stubborn fat for a lower price.
"The cost of CoolSculpting is generally less than liposuction or a more invasive procedure such as a tummy tuck. However, not all patients are good candidates for CoolSculpting and some would benefit more from another procedure.
Choosing to have your CoolSculpting consultation at a site which also offers exceptional liposuction and tummy tuck results is important so that you are not sold CoolSculpting if you are not a good candidate."
So who is the ideal candidate?
The ideal candidate for CoolSculpting is relatively fit (within 30 pounds of his / her ideal weight), but has small areas of stubborn fat that she hasn't been able to eliminate with diet and exercise. She's looking for spot treatment of specific areas of stubborn fat.
The treatment isn't intended for weight loss or obesity. It doesn't work well in areas with loose or excess skin - or in areas where skin has lost elasticity. People with a small amount of loose skin might use CoolSculpting followed by a skin tightening treatment (microneedling, lasers, micro-needling radiofrequency, etc.) afterwards. People with lots of loose skin will get better results using liposuction and surgical skin tightening (done at the same time by a plastic surgeon).
Is there anyone who should not get CoolSculpting?
These conditions may keep you from having CoolSculpting:
1. Women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
2. Cryoglobulinema, where people have a large number of proteins that increase in response to the cold
3. Cold agglutinin disease, an autoimmune disorder where red blood cells are killed by changes in temperature
4. Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria, where red blood cells die as a response to a change in temperature
5. Raynaud's disease, where some areas of your body, (especially your fingers and toes) feel numb and cold as a response to cold or stress.
6. Chilblains, small, itchy swellings on the skin that occur as a reaction to cold temperatures - usually on the toes, fingers, heels, ears & nose
7. Reduced skin sensation or circulation in the treatment area
8. Diabetic neuropathy
9. Eczema, Psoriasis & and skin conditions caused by your immune system
10. Inflammatory skin conditions like hives & dermatitis
11. A recent skin injury or scar in the area to be treated
12. Long term use of blood thinners
13. A bleeding condition
14. A hernia in or near the treatment area. CoolSculpting can make a hernia worse and in some cases, cause a new one.
15. Active implanted medical devices like a pacemaker
16. An allergy to propylene glycol or isopropyl alcohol
17. Chronic pain
18. Severe anxiety
19. Anyone with a weakened immune system (like people with cancer or HIV)
20. Anyone with a condition that has changed their body's ability to handle cold
*This list of conditions that make you a poor candidate for CoolSculpting comes from the article, What Are the Risks of CoolSculpting? by
Where does the fat go?
"After the process of CoolSculpting is completed, the lipid (fat) contained inside the cells is gradually removed via the lymphatic system and then eliminated (as fat normally is) through the feces and urine. The process of fat removal may take weeks to months, which in fact makes the CoolSculpting process very safe in terms of how the levels of lipid in blood are maintained with this
And there's a CoolSculpting applicator for a double chin. It's called CoolMini.
The new applicator was FDA approved in 2015 and was made to treat small areas of fat (like a double chin, the upper knees and near the armpits).
Do people like CoolMini?
How much does CoolMini cost for a double chin?
How many treatments will it take to get rid of my double chin?
Are CoolMini & CoolSculpting safe for dark skin?
There was a study of 396 patients to see if cryolipolysis was equally safe for dark skin, light skin, and various ethnicities. No differences were found in the effectiveness of the treatment or its safety.
Do the results from CoolSculpting & CoolMini last?
Here's what most people think: The number of fat cells you have increases while you're a child and on through your teenage years. But that number seems to stabilize in adulthood. And it's good news for weight loss - because weight gain is tied to the number of fat cells you have. Therefore, once the fat cells die, they won't come back. Right?
Based on this assumption, as long as you maintain a healthy weight, you should be happy with your CoolSculpting results.
Here's the kicker. Even if you have a lower number of fat cells, the ones you have left can enlarge. The New York Times describes it this way. "The size of individual fat cells is remarkably variable, expanding and contracting with weight gain or weight loss." So people who do gain weight may find they develop fat in different areas than they used to. And there are studies to support this.
But a study in 2010 found that adults can make new fat cells:
Researcher, Michael Jensen and his colleagues from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, asked thin volunteers to eat LOTS of sweets to gain weight. As the volunteers gained weight, the number of fat cells on their thighs increased AND the fat cells on their abdomens expanded.
And even people who have liposuction (which can remove more fat than CoolSculpting) tend to regain the lost weight within a year. We still don't know if the weight gain is from expanding existing fat cells or the body making new fat cells - or both. We need more research to know for sure.
So what's the takeaway?
Body contouring is not for weight loss. It's for stubborn fat that you haven't been able to eliminate with diet and exercise.
If you decide you want CoolSculpting, CoolMini - or any kind of body contouring really - know that you HAVE to maintain your weight. And most likely, any fat you lose will come back, but in a different area - because that seems to be the way our bodies work.
Look for an experienced CoolSculpting medical provider - and possibly a plastic surgeon who can discuss other body sculpting options (like liposuction or a tummy tuck, etc.) if needed.
Good luck! If you have any questions or comments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you!
Amy Takken is a registered nurse with 20+ years of experience helping people improve their health. Her in-depth skincare articles have been featured on Nazarian Plastic Surgery and The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery. Amy loves research and constantly watches for new products and treatments to help you improve your skin’s health – because healthy skin is beautiful! To reach Amy, visit our contact page.
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The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some - like melanoma - can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!