Is Coolsculpting Safe? The Truth About CoolSculpting Risks

Written by Ramya Kollipara, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on March 30, 2020 No Comments

coolsculpting

Quick Summary: CoolSculpting is very safe. In fact, CoolSculpting is one of the safest fat removal treatments on the market today with a recorded adverse side effect rate of 0.0051%.

In just a matter of years CoolSculpting has grown to become the gold standard of non-surgical body contouring treatments in the world. High patient satisfaction rates and improved results over alternative methods has forced Westlake Dermatology to move away from all other non-invasive fat reduction treatments. Now we only offer CoolSculpting!

Beyond providing dramatic results without the pain or recovery time inherent in surgery, a huge benefit of CoolSculpting is safety. CoolSculpting is one of the safest fat removal treatments on the market today with low incidents of unwanted side effects.

How CoolSculpting Works

CoolSculpting is a 100% non-invasive body contouring treatment designed to remove stubborn fat from the body. The procedure uses the process cryolipolysis to literally freeze fat away. CoolSculpting uses specialized applicators that suck in targeted pockets of fat before delivering controlled cooling. Unwanted fat cells in treatment areas are exposed to temperatures of about 4 degrees Celsius, causing their internal structure to crystalize. The fat cells become terminally injured and gradually die off. The now dead and broken-down fat cells are metabolized by the body and naturally expelled. The CoolSculpting process only impacts fat cells, all other skin and surrounding tissue is unaffected by the treatment.

FDA Cleared for Safety & Efficacy

In 2010, CoolSculpting was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for fat reduction. The treatment was determined to be safe after hundreds of clinical and scientific studies were performed. During this period over 5,500 total patients treated to evaluate both the safety and efficacy of the treatment. Originally, CoolSculpting was only cleared to treat the flanks (love handles). However, FDA continued to review the treatment and decided to expand the clearance to include the abdomen, back fat, bra back, banana roll (buttocks), chin, and upper arms.

CoolSculpting Side Effects

CoolSculpting is a non-surgical treatment, there are no incisions made and anesthesia is not required. This means there are far fewer side effects and a far lower complication risk compared to surgical body contouring methods like liposuction.

Common side effects of CoolSculpting include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Feelings of tenderness, tingling, or numbness
  • Heightened skin sensitivity
  • Temporary loss of sensation
  • Localized pain

These side effects are temporary and typically resolve on their own (without intervention) within a day or two of treatment. More severe complications like skin ulcers or scarring are extremely rare.

The most severe complication of CoolSculpting is a conditioned called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). This is an unusual side effect where fat cells increase in areas treated with cryolipolysis resulting in unwanted bulges. While not harmful to one’s health, PAH can negate the positive effects of the treatment. Fortunately, recorded instances of PAH are extremely low with a recorded rate of 0.0051%. This means for every 2 million procedures, there have been 100 cases of PAH reported. PAH can also be corrected with additional CoolSculpting treatments or liposuction.

CoolSculpting Safety According to Clinical Studies

A 2015 study found that of 1,445 people treated with CoolSculpting only 12 individuals (less than 1%) experienced any form of complication. The most common complication reported was the loss of sensation in the treatment area.

A 2015 review surveyed 363,912 CoolSculpting treatments and found no instances of major complications like scarring, bleeding, or pigmentation.

Reducing CoolSculpting Risks

The best way to reduce the already low risks of CoolSculpting is to see a provider that is approved by CoolSculpting manufacturer Allergan to provide the treatment. The improper administration of the treatment or the use of generic applicators can heighten any risk of complications.


Ramya Kollipara, MD

Ramya Kollipara, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained cosmetic dermatologic surgeon specializing in the practice of both cosmetic and medical dermatology. Dr. Kollipara completed a prestigious laser and cosmetic surgery fellowship program at Cosmetic Laser Dermatology in La Jolla, California. During her fellowship, she was involved in cutting-edge clinical research for novel cosmetic treatments involving fillers, neuromodulators and lasers.


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