Zeltiq CoolSculpting: How Does it Work?


There is a new cosmetic body contouring procedure on the market. After being available in Canada, Europe and Asia since 2009, Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting has finally made its way to the United States. What makes this body shaping method remarkable is how un-invasive it is compared to other cosmetic fat reduction procedures, such as liposuction. There are no injections and no recovery time, but is it worth the $700 to $1000 price tag?

How Coolsculpting works

Coolsculpting derives its methods from the science of cryolipolysis. Breaking it down a little, the term can be dissected into two parts: “cryo,” which means cold, and “lypolysis,” which is the chemical dissolution of fat. This should give you some idea of what is involved in the Coolsculpting process. Through its research, Zeltiq discovered that fat cells are more susceptible to cold than surrounding cells. Coolsculpting takes advantage of this vulnerability by isolating fat cells and lowering their temperature until it is just above freezing. When introduced to the cold, the fat cells begin to shrink. These cells eventually die, and are flushed from the body through the liver.

What to expect from Coolsculpting

Coolsculpting is administered in an office setting by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, and generally takes from one to three hours. The target area is marked in pen and covered with a protective gel pad. Then, using a vacuum, the area is pressed between two cooling panels. Essentially, that’s all there is to it. The process is FDA approved, and is completely safe and non-invasive, with no painkillers or recovery time required. Patients can return to their usual activities immediately following the procedure. There is some mild discomfort associated with Coolsculpting, which seems to be about on par with a routine trip to the dentist. There is often an immediate sensation of coldness, which goes away after ten minutes or so. For some patients, mild bruising or lingering redness might occur in the area that is isolated by the vacuums.


Coolsculpting is an effective body contouring option best performed on those within 10 to 15 pounds of their ideal body weight. The procedure is intended for targeting problem areas, such as the stomach or thighs. The end result of cryolipolysis is that fat cells are reduced by about 20% with each procedure. Still, it can be up to two months before a visible difference is discernable, and it may take several procedures to achieve the desired results. It is important to note that Coolsculpting is intended for cosmetic use, and is not covered by health insurance. Like other cosmetic procedures, it should never be substituted for a healthy diet and exercise. Coolsculpting is a fantastic alternative to more invasive procedures, but it is certainly not for everybody. To learn more about Zeltiq CoolSculpting or to schedule a consultation with a local clinic offering this or comparable treatments, contact us today.

--Kate Blair, New Image Specialists

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