The Truth Behind CoolSculpting

Board-Certified Cosmetic Surgeon Serving Ann Arbor, Plymouth-Canton, Brighton & Nearby Michigan

Posted: December 16, 2019
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In the past few years, the makers of CoolSculpting have engaged in a massive publicity push. You might see ads for the procedure on TV and around town. And, if you’re researching body contouring on the Internet, you’ve almost certainly seen ads on social media and other websites.

CoolSculpting is a non-surgical and non-invasive procedure, so most patients think the side effects are virtually nonexistent. Unfortunately, although CoolSculpting is FDA-cleared and backed up by clinical evidence, most people are unaware of a possible side effect that can actually make areas of excess fat more prominent and even lead to weight gain.

How Does CoolSculpting Work?

woman getting CoolSculpting treatment on the abdomen - note large, bulky apparatusCoolSculpting operates on the principle of cryolipolysis, or freezing fat. During treatment, the doctor or technician applies the CoolSculpting handpiece to areas of unwanted fat. The cold penetrates the adipose tissue below the skin, destroying the cells by freezing them. The body removes the frozen cells naturally, thus sculpting the body.

Most of the information you read about CoolSculpting suggests that side effects and complications are minimal; some patients report redness, bruising, or irritation at the treatment site. However, ongoing research into CoolSculpting and cryolipolysis in general has revealed a more significant complication in the form of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH).

What Is Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia?

Hyperplasia is the medical term for the enlargement of tissue in the body. When applied to the adipose layer, that means fat cells are getting bigger. When associated with CoolSculpting, localized fat within the treatment area can actually freeze into a hardened mass beneath the skin, creating an unsightly bump or ridge.

Why “paradoxical”? CoolSculpting is designed to contour the body by reducing fat. So, if a patient gets CoolSculpting to reduce fat in one or more areas but the fat ends up solidified, the procedure has the paradoxical effect. The fat actually stands out more than it did before!

Although often reported as a “rare side effect,” research published last year by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons suggests PAH may be significantly more common than previously thought.

Should patients experience PAH, they may require liposuction to correct the resulting deformity. This means patients who sought a non-surgical way to get rid of excess fat have to undergo surgical intervention to alleviate the complication and be rid of the hardened fat.

How Can I Avoid PAH and Still Get the Body I Want?

Only CoolSculpting and cryolipolysis have been linked to paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. Patients who choose another non-surgical fat removal option are not at risk for this complication.

Evolve Tite treatment for the abdomen - non-surgical CoolSculpting alternativeMichigan Center for Cosmetic Surgery has adopted several groundbreaking technologies that are effective alternatives to CoolSculpting. We are one of the first practices in the nation to offer Evolve Tite and Evolve Trim from InMode.

Evolve technology uses radio frequency (RF) energy instead of cold. The radio frequency waves heat sub-dermal fat, destroying the fat cells through a process known as apoptosis. RF energy also encourages the body to produce collagen and elastin, making the skin more youthful and supple. 

Like with CoolSculpting, the destruction and elimination of excess fat contours the area(s) of the body that undergo treatment. However, with Evolve and other radio frequency-assisted lipolysis devices, no freezing is involved – therefore, PAH cannot occur.

Why Choose Michigan Center for Cosmetic Surgery

Our passion for the latest proven technologies for non-surgical body sculpting and fat reduction puts you in greater control of your treatment. Both Evolve Tite and Evolve Trim are hands-free, so you can simply relax as your session progresses. Should you need an adjustment, the devices feature a patient call button that enables you to communicate your comfort needs to us.

Our surgeons will discuss the full range of body contouring options available at our practice. Our goal is to communicate with you honestly, not pressure you into one procedure or another. You may see best results from surgery, or non-surgical treatment could be the most beneficial.

Please call 734-971-0262 to schedule your complimentary initial consultation with Dr. Jessica West or Dr. Robert Burke today. Michigan Center for Cosmetic Surgery serves patients in and around Ann Arbor, Plymouth-Canton, Brighton, and other nearby areas.