CoolSculpting vs Lipo: Which One is the Best for Fat Reduction?

Coolsculpting vs LipoMany people are bothered by stubborn love handles on their stomach , hips, legs or chest, which is why  they become more and more interested in cosmetic procedures to get rid of those displeasing extra pounds.

Two techniques for fat reduction, in particular, are hotly debated and regularly compared with one another: the classic liposuction and so-called CoolSculpting, also known as cryolipolysis. These methods are often described as alternatives, with CoolSculpting being touted as a gentle and inexpensive alternative to liposuction.

However, there are some important differences that you should be aware of before deciding on liposuction or CoolSculpting.

How does traditional liposuction work?

Nowadays, liposuction is usually carried out using the classic tumescent method. Before the operation, a relatively large amount of liquid is injected under the area's skin to be treated. The liquid, which contains a  mixture of saline, anesthetic, and adrenaline, numbs the tissue and ensures that the fat liquefies after a certain exposure time.

The tumescent technique gently softens the tissue, and the fat cells can be sucked off more easily. Fine cannulas are inserted through small incisions in the skin, which suck out the injected liquid and the fat dissolved in it. Slight movements of the cannulas ensure that the fat is sucked off evenly.

The fat obtained after liposuction can even be reprocessed and used in a so-called autologous fat injection (lipofilling) to plump up other parts of the body naturally.

Duration: one to three hours

Anesthesia: local or general

Recovery time: 3-4 days of rest, sport possible again after two weeks


  • The success of the treatment can be seen more quickly
  • Large area of ​​application
  • Autologous fat can be used for body modeling
  • Lasting results


  • Bruising and temporary swelling possible
  • Several days of downtime
  • Wearing compression clothing
  • Inflammation or infection
  • Skin irritation from movement of the cannula
  • Pulmonary embolism (obstruction of a pulmonary artery)
  • Pulmonary edema (accumulation of fluid in the lungs)

Who is liposuction suitable for? 

Liposuction is particularly useful for larger fat accumulations - if exercise and appropriate nutrition do not promise the desired success. The primary goal is not to reduce weight but to treat the problem areas concerned.

Contraindications for this procedure include systemic (affecting the whole body) and chronic underlying diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, tendency to bleed, cardiovascular diseases, allergies, mental illness, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

Risks and downtime 

Liposuction is still a surgical procedure, which usually implies more risks than a non-invasive procedure. The introduction of the liquid into the tissue can, in some cases, lead to a slight pain in tension.  However, if it is carried out correctly, it is painless and involves low risks. In order to further minimize the possible side effects, antibiotic prophylaxis is usually given before the procedure to prevent infections.

After the treatment, you should definitely plan for two to three days of rest. In addition, a bodice must be worn for four to six weeks. Light sport is then possible again for a short time.

How does CoolSculpting work?

With CoolSculpting, the fat cells are frozen with direct exposure to cold. While the skin is sucked in with applicators, a gel protects the skin and tissue. The excess fat cells are cooled by a vacuum between the applicators and are not sucked off but rather broken down by the body in the following weeks and months and transported away by the lymph.

Accordingly, it takes a few weeks before the final result is visible. Depending on the desired results, several sessions may be necessary. Since this is not a surgical procedure, neither local anesthesia or general anesthesia is needed.

As with liposuction, the fat cells are also reduced with cryolipolysis - albeit to a lesser extent. This leads to a significant reduction in circumference but not extreme weight loss.

Although with CoolSculpting, the results can only be seen after a few weeks, the not-so 'immediate' effect may be beneficial because it lets the body and the skin adapt much better to the fat loss.

Duration: 30 minutes to two hours

Anesthesia: no anesthesia required

Recovery time: One day of rest


  • Non-invasive method
  • No / little downtime
  • The procedure is low-risk
  • Depending on the scope, less expensive
  • No anesthesia required
  • Particularly natural results
  • Wide range of uses


  • Final results only visible after a few weeks
  • Depending on the goal, several treatments are necessary
  • Bruising, redness and minor swellings are possible

Who is CoolSculpting suitable for? 

Regarding the CoolSculpting vs lipo comparison, CoolSculpting is not suitable for people who are overweight, as the treatment can only break down about 30% of the fat in the area - which is why liposuction would be a better choice for people with larger fat deposits.

Moreover, due to the high stress on the tissue from the low temperatures, there are some indications that can exclude a patient from a Coolsculpting treatment.

People who suffer from cardiovascular disease or connective tissue diseases should not undergo such treatment. Various skin diseases such as eczema and dermatitis in the treatment area also exclude Coolsculpting. In addition, the skin in the treatment area should be free of injuries and scar tissue to avoid irritation.

CoolSculpting risks and downtime 

Since this is not a surgical procedure, you are theoretically ready to go again immediately after the treatment. However, you should give yourself a rest day before going back to your activities without further restrictions.

Regarding the CoolSculpting vs liposuction comparison in terms of pain, CoolSculpting is the winner on this criteria. While the cold during CoolSculpting can be a little uncomfortable, it is usually not painful.

There may be minimal side effects such as swelling or reddening of the skin, but these will disappear after a few days.


As can be seen, CoolSculpting vs lipo is still a controversial topic, with both procedures giving great results for fat reduction.

However, they are quite different in methodology, downtime, side effects, and desired results. While liposuction involves anesthesia, skin incision, long recovery, and possible pain in the downtime, freezing away fat with cold seems to be the choice of the moment among those who want to remove their stubborn fat deposits.


What areas can be treated with CoolSculpting?

The CoolSculpting treatment can reduce fat in the following areas: upper arms, waist (so-called "love handles"), hips, belly, saddlebags, inner thighs, bra area / male chest, knees, armpits, and double chin.

Is cool sculpting also suitable for men?

The number of men who try the cool sculpting procedure is steadily increasing. Therefore, it is not a question of gender.

Are CoolSculpting results permanent?

After just a few weeks you can notice the changes in your body due to CoolSculpting. After about 2-3 months, the changes will be even more noticeable. CoolSculpting unfolds its full effect and creates a new body feeling - permanently. Supplementary measures such as exercise and sport are always useful to increase the effect.

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.