The process of weight loss and the ongoing challenges of weight management can be frustrating for many of us. You struggle to eat right, get enough exercise and take care of yourself, but still can’t seem to reach that magic number on the scales that your doctor tells you is the “ideal” weight for you. If you are excessively overweight, defined as morbidly obese, then weight loss surgery is an option for you. Unfortunately, weight loss surgery comes with many risks, invasive surgical procedures, and of course, potentially unpleasant recovery. There are countless weight loss pills on the market, but do they work? Are they safe?
In some cases, yes and in others, likely not. Additionally, medications are not a “magic bullet” solution to long term weight loss. Eventually, you will need to stop taking the drug, and then what? If you are not following a strict eating and exercise plan, there is a good possibility you will gain your weight back. Similar challenges come with the various diet plans that are available today. A quick internet search will bring up everything from long-standing plans such as Weight Watchers and Slim Fast to newer, more advanced programs, such as Keto and Paleo. But again, you must be strict with your eating. It is challenging to give up a large portion of the foods you love to eat. When you feel as though you can’t eat the things you want, you are likely to fall off the proverbial healthy eating wagon. Last, but not least, there is exercise. But who wants to go to the gym every day or wake up hours before you technically must to exercise in your home before showering and getting ready for work? The truth is, the majority of exercise programs fail. So, what can you do to lose weight but not run up against the wall of failure?
What is CoolSculpting?
CoolSculpting is also known as Cryolipolysis. The procedure was initially developed and underwent clinical trials in 2009. In 2010, the FDA approved CoolSculpting for use on the “love handles” (or sides) and use on the stomach. By 2014 the product had received FDA clearance for the thighs as well. CoolSculpting is a non-invasive medical procedure that is used to get rid of the excess fat cells underneath your skin. These are the cells that no matter how much weight you lose, they are challenging to shed. These are also the cells that seem to increase in size every time you so much as look at a cupcake. There are indeed several benefits to CoolSculpting over a Liposuction procedure, but it also essential to understand how the process works as well as the risks and side effects.
How does CoolSculpting work?
During a CoolSculpting procedure, a licensed practitioner uses a specially designed tool that emits cold. Folds of skin are placed between the plates on the device, and those parts of the body are cooled down to a freezing temperature. This procedure freezes and kills the fat cells so they cannot absorb fat anymore. Within a few weeks of the treatment, the cells are naturally excreted out of the body through the liver. The best part is, CoolSculpting is effective in reducing fat cells in the treatment area by up to 25%. Liposuction operates similarly; however, CoolSculpting is non-invasive and requires virtually no recovery time after the procedure. People typically use CoolSculpting to treat similar parts of the body to liposuction. This would include thighs, lower back, belly, and sides (or love handles). Unlike liposuction, it can also reduce the appearance of cellulite on the arms, thighs, buttocks, and underneath the skin.
Research has shown CoolSculpting to be relatively safe and effective for removing fat in certain areas of the body. Of concern during the research studies is the purely cosmetic element of CoolSculpting. Since the fat cells are frozen and excreted from the body, there isn’t a lifestyle change associated with the procedure as there would be with some other diet and exercise plans. This means that some of the co-occurring medical issues related to excessive weight may not be addressed using CoolSculpting.
How long do the results of CoolSculpting last?
The process of CoolSculpting destroys fat cells. This means that those cells will not return once they are excreted from the body. After the treatment, it is essential to adopt a healthy lifestyle as new fat cells can appear. If a healthy lifestyle is chosen, the results of CoolSculpting can last forever.
It is essential to mention that although the effects and benefits of CoolSculpting are shown to be positive, the procedure is not a treatment for obesity. It can help to eliminate small amounts of excess fat, however, if your condition is such that you are considered overweight or obese, you should speak to your doctor about other ways to lose weight before considering CoolSculpting.
It’s also important to note that CoolSculpting is not a treatment for obesity. Instead, it can help eliminate small amounts of excess fat that doesn’t easily go away with diet and exercise alone.
Signs of CoolScultping to watch out for: Risks and side effects
CoolSculpting is non-invasive. This means, unlike other weight loss procedures, it does not require incisions, anesthesia, or other medications that could cause allergic reaction or infection. This means the complication rate and rate of side effects is much lower than with more invasive procedures such as liposuction or other surgical procedures.
The most common complication from CoolSculpting is a reduction in sensation in the area where the procedure was performed.
Other common side effects can include:
A tugging sensation at the treatment site- During the procedure, a roll of fat from the part of your body that is being treated is placed between the two cooling panels. This can cause a sensation of pulling or tugging as the machine is moved over the treatment site. Unfortunately, this is something that you will need to tolerate for the duration of the procedure, approximately one to two hours.
Pain, stinging, or aching at the treatment site- Another common side effect of the procedure is a sensation of pain, stinging or aching where the cells are being treated. These sensations often begin shortly after the procedure is complete and can last for a couple of weeks after the procedure. The exact cause of this is not known, but the assumption is that its related to the cold temperatures that the skin and tissue are exposed to during the treatment process.
Temporary redness, swelling, bruising, and skin sensitivity:
Redness, swelling, tenderness or bruising can occur at the treatment site. These sensations are also thought to be caused by exposing the skin to such cold temperatures. As with the other side effects, these discomforts will also go away within a few weeks.
Another potential, although exceeding rare side effects to CoolSculpting, is something called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. This side effect is most commonly seen in men. Instead of the cells dying and leaving the body, they grow larger and remain in place. The cause of this is not fully understood; however, it is not a dangerous side effect. Additionally, paradoxical adipose hyperplasia does not go away on its own.
Who should avoid CoolSculpting?
CoolSculpting is safe and effective for most people. However, as with any treatment, certain people should not have the procedure done.
Cryoglobulinemia is a condition where abnormal proteins are present in the blood. These proteins thicken when exposed to cold temperatures, which could cause the blood to thicken.
Cold Agglutinin Disease:
This is a rare, autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys its blood cells when exposed to cold temperatures.
Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria (PCH):
Like Cold Agglutinin Disease, PCH is a rare blood disorder where the immune system produces antibodies that destroy red blood cells. These antibodies are produced when the person is exposed to cold temperatures.
If you are looking for a way to reach your weight loss goals or reduce areas of stubborn body fat, CoolSculpting may be right for you. For most, CoolSculpting can offer results similar to those afforded by more invasive surgical procedures such as liposuction. If you would like to talk about CoolSculpting and see if this treatment might be right for you, contact us at Solara Skin and Laser Center. We would be happy to schedule an appointment to help you understand how non-invasive, non-surgical treatments could help you achieve your goals.