There has been a boom in noninvasive body sculpting or fat reduction devices. Coolsculpting has become the most name brand worthy device on the market. All of these devices destroy fat cells by either freezing them or heating them with either laser, radiofrequency or ultrasound energy. They are promoted as a no downtime, no risk, effective way to slim down and treat stubborn fat.

Do they fat reduction devices actually work?

Yes, they do work. But with any minimally invasive or noninvasive technology they have minimal results. They claim they provide about 20% fat reduction but that’s only in the targeted treatment zones. So if you have a small pouch that has been resistant to exercise, it can improve things. If you have more generalized excess, it’s unlikely to make a major impact. If you’re okay with that, then that’s reasonable. It’s all about having realistic expectations.

Is it truly no downtime?

Not always. Coolscupt in particular can leave your abdomen feeling like you were just beat up with a bat. The skin is often numb for several months. You need to wear a binder. However, it is definitely less downtime than liposuction or an abdominoplasty.

Are there no risk?

No. There are risk with everything we do. Driving to the hospital is normally riskier than most procedure you undergo. Serious and longterm risk are quite rare. Coolsculpt can leave permanent nerve damage, contour abnormalities or “shark bites”, firm fat and paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). PAH is when the fat regions treated grow larger. This has been advertised as being very rare but as the procedure is becoming more popular, more incidences of it are turning up. This is a difficult issue to treat. Liposuction is only modestly effective, as the fat tends to be very fibrous in nature.

What’s the best approach to learning more?

Consult with a plastic surgeon that is familiar with all types of body contouring options. If you go somewhere that only offers a noninvasive option, it is likely that they’re going to sell you that treatment option. If you see a plastic surgeon that has many different treatment options, you’re likely to get the option that will give you the best result based on your goals and expectations.