Can CoolSculpting Have Side Effects?

Is CoolSculpting Safe?

woman -- pre and post coolsculpting 2022CoolSculpting has become the go-to method of body contouring because, unlike liposuction, it is a non-surgical method of body fat reduction that doesn't require anesthesia. Also known as cryolipolysis treatment, CoolSculpting is FDA-approved, with studies showing very few risks. The treatment exhibits similarities to frostbite as fat cells crystalize through extreme cold, eventually destroying them and eliminating the dead fat cells through the liver.

All procedures, whether surgical or non-surgical, carry some risk of complications. You should discuss potential side effects and complications with your chosen medical professional before undergoing CoolSculpting treatment to eliminate stubborn fat cells.

What are the Short-Term Side Effects of CoolSculpting?

Although you may experience some side effects, most tend to disappear within a few days or weeks of your fat reduction procedure. Most side effects only affect the treatment area due to the fat freezing. These are some of the side effects of CoolScupting that commonly occur:

  • Pain or aching in the treatment area
  • Temporary skin irritations, including skin discoloration, swelling, bruising, and sensitivity
  • Pinching sensation
  • Tingling or stinging
  • Muscle cramping

It's normal to expect numbness or loss of sensation in the treatment area for a few weeks. Other short-term side effects of CoolSculpting that patients report in the first few weeks following the procedure include:

  • Itchiness, especially immediately after the procedure
  • Diarrhea can occurs as dead fat cells leave the body
  • A feeling of fullness in the throat after treatments near the neck or chin

Some patients may feel faint, nauseated or dizzy during treatment. Others have reported rare cases of irregular divots of ripples on the skin. However, the incidence of divots is extremely rare, occurring in only 0.14% of procedures.

Uncommon Short-Term Complications

In very rare cases, some patients have reported the following short-term complications:

  • Reduced movement or response of the tongue, lower lip muscle weakness or reduced saliva production following procedures involving the neck or chin
  • Frostbite, or first- and second-degree freeze burns at the treatment site

What are the Long-Term Side Effects of CoolSculpting?

Long-term complications of CoolSculpting are rare, but in rare cases, patients can experience changes to the subcutaneous fat layers, scarring and prolonged pain. The most severe long-term complication is called Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia (PAH), occurring in only .005% of patients.

What Is Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia (PAH)?

PAH is an adverse reaction to fat freezing where instead of destroying the unwanted fat cells, the controlled cooling causes them to enlarge rather than to go into apoptosis (programmed cell death). As a result, the body struggles to break down the fatty tissue, and an enlargement of the treatment area occurs with fat tissue developing an unnatural appearance. PAH develops over the course of several months following the procedure. The new tissue is harder than normal fat and may have an almost rubbery texture. Blood flow to the treatment area may also increase.

For correction of PAH a cosmetic surgeon will use corrective liposuction to remove the newly grown fat cells. So, a patient must choose between fat reduction surgery to resolve the issue, or leaving it in place.

At least one clinical report indicates that the incidence of PAH may be as high as 0.47% as not all CoolScupting procedures are performed by cosmetic surgeons, who are required to report complications. Studies also indicate that PAH is 75% less likely to occur when using the newer CoolSculpting Elite machines.

Although PAH is the most commonly known serious side effect of CoolSculpting, research has not yet discovered what causes it. It also appears to develop in more men than women.

Minimizing CoolSculpting Risks

Even though CoolSculpting is a low-risk procedure, the incidence of side effects and complications often depends on the medical professional assessing you and performing the procedure. Remember that the outcome of the procedure depends on the right patient selection and not all wellness professionals have the necessary experience to ensure patient safety. Make sure to choose a trusted, experienced professional practice that has performed this body contouring cosmetic procedure for several years. Research your options and ask multiple questions before committing to the procedure.

Get a Through Screening Before Undergoing CoolSculpting Treatments

One of the reasons prospective patients should choose a providers at VIVAA is because they thoroughly assess clients to see if they qualify as a good CoolSculpting candidate. At VIVAA all patients are assessed by either a registered nurse or a physician. Some medical conditions contraindicate a client from undergoing this treatment. Those who have certain medical conditions that weaken or change the body's ability to handle cold temperatures can experience serious medical complications. People with weakened immune systems are among those who should not undergo CoolSculpting.

Conditions that require special discussion prior to CoolSculpting include:

  • Cryoglobulinemia, a disorder where proteins that increase in response to cold are in abnormally high concentrations
  • Cold agglutinin disease, an autoimmune condition where temperature change kills red blood cells
  • Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria, a condition where red blood cells die in response to temperature change
  • Raynaud's disease, a condition that causes some parts of your body to feel numb
  • A recent injury to the skin in the treatment area
  • Active, implanted medical devices, such as pacemakers

Other medical conditions may also prohibit patients from selecting CoolSculpting to modify their body shape. Be honest with your provider when discussing your medical history and concerns.

Schedule a Consultation Today

Schedule a complimentary consultation with the experienced professionals at VIVAA to learn more about whether CoolSculpting is the right fat reduction treatment for you!


Dr. Sidhu
Dr. Ramandeep Sidhu

Author - Dr. Ramandeep Sidhu

SPECIALTIES: Percutaneous aneurysm repair, endovascular treatment of peripheral arterial disease, treatment for varicose veins, open vascular surgical procedures, deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism treatment and aesthetic services.


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