Many of us have a love hate relationship with fat—or maybe hate love is a better way of putting it. We hate it in some areas (those pesky love handles, why are they even called that? and what about back rolls?) and we love it in other areas (the butt, the breasts, even a little extra on parts of the face is sometimes nice).

So there’s no surprise that when it comes to removing fat, we might waver in our decision as to whether it’s worth it. Non-surgical ways of removing fat like with CoolSculpting are also fairly new, so maybe it’s just hard for us to believe that you really can get rid of fat with minimal downtime and pain. It seems almost magical. Which begs the question: does it actually work? Is CoolSculpting worth it?

The short answer is, yes, totally! The longer answer is that, like with any treatment, it’s definitely worth it and very effective but only if you are the right candidate for it and you have reasonable expectations as to the result it’s going to achieve for you.

CoolSculpting is great, but here are some things to keep in mind before you decide to go for it.

Who’s the right CoolSculpting candidate?

CoolSculpting works really well on people looking for super targeted fat reduction. It’s not an overall weight loss tool. But once you’re near that goal weight, it can be very effective at targeting super stubborn pockets. We’re talking those pockets of fat that no matter how much you eat healthy and exercise, just won’t go away, like that little abdominal bulge that drives you crazy, or the thighs that touch no matter what you do.

That being said, you also have to have enough fat. The rule of the thumb is that if you can pinch it, we can treat it. And it has to be actual fat. A lot of people mistake loose skin for fat. If your issue is loose skin, then CoolSculpting won’t help much. We may then recommend a treatment like BodyTite instead.

How much fat will CoolSculpting remove?

CoolSculpting doesn’t remove large amounts of fat. This is where if you’re thinking of having CoolSculpting done you need to keep your expectations realistic. The results are subtle. It’s about fine tuning what you already have not about a drastic transformation in your appearance.

Studies show that the majority of individuals will experience a 25% reduction in the treated area after only one treatment. This number increases with subsequent treatments.

It will probably take more than one treatment

Be prepared to have more than one treatment. Most individuals need between 1-3 treatments (or cycles as they are called in the industry) for the biggest benefit, and treatments are usually spaced about 4-6 weeks apart.

Some areas may not be worth it

CoolSculpting can treat areas such as under the chin, the upper neck, the back, under the arms, the flanks, the abdomen, thighs, knees, and butt, as well as under the bum. Even though it’s indicated for areas such as the chin and the upper neck, we’ve found CoolSculpting to work less well in targeting submental fat than treatments like FaceTite for instance.

It’s not that we haven’t had success in targeting submental fat with CoolSculpting, but we’ve just found the area to be very resistant to this treatment. So if treating submental fat or a double chin is your primary goal, we may recommend trying FaceTite first.

Expect not to feel 100% comfortable

CoolSculpting isn’t painful but it’s not super comfortable the whole time, either. There are parts of the treatment when you’ll feel less comfortable than others. For the first 5-10 minutes before your skin goes numb you’ll feel something akin to a vacuum pulling on your skin as well as the cold temperature, which is tolerable but obviously not the most comfortable thing in the world.

Once the area is numb you won’t feel anything, but many patients find the massage after the applicator has been removed, also to feel a bit weird.

Downtime is quite minimal, but you will feel some numbness and tingling in the treatment area for a little while. Usually massaging the area and wearing a compression garment (if possible) will help with any discomfort you might feel after your treatment.

Results take time

It takes time for your body to shed the fat. There’s a misconception that you’ll walk into a CoolSculpting treatment and walk out with a perfectly flat tummy, or no love handles, but it takes time. CoolSculpting freezes your fat cells at temperatures that eventually kill them, and then those dead fat cells are naturally eliminated from your body over anywhere from 1-3 months.

So if you have more than one treatment, you won’t really see your final results until maybe 6-8 months following your initial treatment. It’s a treatment that definitely requires some patience.

Is CoolSculpting permanent?

Yes, CoolSculpting is permanent, but you need to maintain your weight. It’s true that the fat cells that are targeted will be permanently eliminated, but if you gain a significant amount of weight new fat can still grow in the area that was treated. In other words, CoolSculpting will eliminate fat for good, but it doesn’t necessarily keep fat off.

Check out what Dr. Goyal had to say about CoolSculpting while undergoing a treatment herself.

YouTube video