CoolSculpting is a body-contouring procedure that works by freezing away fat cells with the help of a vacuum-like device. The procedure is designed for people who want to get rid of stubborn fat in certain spots of the body. CoolSculpting is not a method of weight loss. It’s meant for people who are within 30 pounds of their recommended body weight.
Since CoolSculpting isn’t considered a medically necessary procedure, the person getting this treatment is responsible for all costs. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) estimates that the average fee per treatment for CoolSculpting was $1,481 in 2017. The CoolSculpting official website says the average cost is between $2,000 and $4,000 per session.
The cost is based on the area of body being treated. The smaller the treatment area, the lower the cost. Treating multiple areas can also increase cost. Other things that factor into the total cost of CoolSculpting treatment include where you live, your provider, and any follow-up appointments you might need.
In most cases, you only need one CoolSculpting treatment per area. However, some people might need a follow-up treatment if they want additional results after several months. Treatment takes a few hours or less, with no required downtime.
Talk to your prospective provider about specific costs prior to your procedure. You may also want to ask about the cost differences between specific areas of treatment, especially if you choose to have CoolSculpting performed on more than one area of your body.
Cost of CoolSculpting for arms
CoolSculpting is an option for removing stubborn fat in the upper arms. Smaller areas may cost around $650 per treatment. With the procedure, each arm is treated, so your total cost for the session may be about $1,300.
Each treatment for the arms can last about 35 minutes on average. Only one session is typically required to achieve the desired results.
Cost of CoolSculpting for stomach
The stomach is perhaps one of the most common CoolSculpting treatment areas. It can be difficult to get rid of excess fat cells in this area due to age, as well as life events like pregnancy.
The estimated cost of CoolSculpting for the stomach area is $1,500 a session. Some providers recommend two treatments for the stomach area.
Cost of CoolSculpting for thighs
The cost of CoolSculpting areas of the thigh varies. For example, one dermatologist in New York charges $1,500 per outer thigh and $750 per inner thigh. Treating these areas on both legs can cost $4,000 or more.
Each treatment can take as little as 35 minutes. Like CoolSculpting for the arms, you can get permanent results in one session for your thigh treatment.
It takes four to six months to see full results, according to the ASPS. During this time, your body will work to remove the rest of the targeted fat cells.
CoolSculpting can cause temporary side effects, such as pain and numbness. These typically last only a few weeks.
You won’t be required to take time off work. However, you may decide to take your treatment day off to avoid the possible stress of getting back to work after the procedure.
In all, you should only be at your provider’s office for a couple of hours per treatment. More time may be necessary if you’re treating multiple body parts.
How long does it last?
CoolSculpting results are meant to be permanent. The only exception is the stomach area, which could require two or more sessions to obtain optimum results. Talk to your provider about how many sessions they think you’ll ultimately need.
Unlike traditional weight loss methods, the fat cells are completely removed, not shrunk down. According to the ASPS, the fat cells targeted during CoolSculpting treatments are eventually reduced by an average of 20 percent. Some people can see reductions of up to 40 percent, which is also more likely in smaller treatment areas like the arms.
If you want to target the same area in the future, talk to your provider. The costs will likely be the same as your first treatment, as the whole process needs to be done again.
Also, if you gain weight in the future, there’s a chance that new fat cells can return in the previously treated area.
Is it covered by insurance?
CoolSculpting is an aesthetic (cosmetic) treatment. Aesthetic treatments like CoolSculpting aren’t covered by insurance. You can ask your provider about any discounts and payment plans they may offer to help offset the costs of your treatment.
Are there ways to reduce cost?
Working with your provider is the most promising way to reduce your CoolSculpting costs. Some offices offer promotional coupons for new clients.
You can also ask your provider about any financing plans they offer. While this could cost you a bit more in the long run if they charge interest, making payments can reduce your upfront costs. Some providers offer payment plans that are interest-free.
Getting work done” is no longer the secret it once was. But if you’re considering going under the knife or needle, you deserve to be informed. In our series Life in Plastic, we’re breaking down everything you need to know, from injectables to invasive treatments. Choose to change your looks or don’t—the point is, the choice is yours.
Let’s just get this out there: Procedures targeting fat are divisive. As the movement to reclaim the word fat—and abolish the stigma around it—grows, so too does the increasing interest in cosmetic procedures and injectables. (According to the most recent data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of liposuction procedures rose 5% in the last year, while noninvasive fat reduction treatments rose 6%.) The relationships we have with our bodies are complicated and rarely fall perfectly into one belief system.
It’s no wonder then that Coolsculpting, an FDA-approved nonsurgical fat-freezing procedure, has become one of the most popular treatments people ask me about on social media. I’ve worked as an on-camera beauty expert for the past eight years, and while it’s a misconception that everyone who gets procedures is hypercritical of their appearance or trying to adhere to idealistic beauty standards—I don’t feel compelled to look “perfect”—the reality is I had a lot of curiosity around it. I, like others, wanted to know whether fat freezing hurt, and mostly about the results. So when the opportunity to try Coolsculpting arose, I was willing to give it a go. And if it sculpted my body a little in the process? Cool.
What Is Coolsculpting?
First things first: Coolsculpting is described as a “fat-freezing fat reduction” procedure. It’s noninvasive and has very little downtime, so doctors often position it as an alternative to liposuction. Scientifically known as cryolipolysis, the process involves using a vacuum-like applicator to suction targeted areas of fat. Then it deep-freezes your fat cells, which eventually causes them to die and be naturally expelled via your lymphatic system. (Yep, that’s exactly as it sounds.)
It’s cleared to work on the following areas: under your chin and jawline; on your thighs, abdomen, and flanks (i.e., “love handles”); for bra fat; and underneath your buttocks and upper arms. The caveat is that you have to have enough fat for the applicator to adhere to. Appointments are about 45 minutes long, and—at least in my experience—the procedure wasn’t painful.
The sensation when the applicator suctions on to your skin is extremely cold at first, but your skin numbs, almost like when your foot falls asleep. After they remove the machine, they quickly massage out the frozen area of fat, which most agree is the worst part. Before you know it, it’s over. I did my sessions with cosmetic surgeon Ashkan Ghavami, M.D., in Beverly Hills. In total, we did three appointments: one for my chin and two for my abdomen, spaced six weeks apart.
It’s now been two years since I had Coolsculpting, and to this day, I am constantly asked whether or not I would do it again. The short answer is yes, and I would probably get my stomach and flanks treated as well. While I loved my Coolsculpting results, there are a few things I wish I had known beforehand to keep expectations in check. Below, here are eight things you should know before booking your own appointment.
Coolsculpting Doesn’t Guarantee to Keep Off Fat
Coolsculpting might be FDA-approved, but it doesn’t mean that your fat will disappear forever. If you gain weight, you may see the areas you treated gain weight as well. “The fat that died isn’t coming back, but fat can still grow,” says board-certified dermatologist Nancy Samolitis, M.D., of Facile Dermatology Boutique in West Hollywood. The protocol for Coolsculpting includes weighing you in before the first treatment in the event you gain weight afterward. “If you’ve gained 10 pounds, it might even out, so you may look the same as your ‘before’ picture,” she says. For the record, I have gained 10 pounds, and while I had more sculpted results after I got the treatments, new fat has since grown back in those areas.
Plan to Get at Least Two Treatments
In theory, you can see a reduction in fat on areas like your stomach, flanks, and chin in as little as one session. But Ghavami told me that two sessions are ideal for more permanent results. You might even want to book three sessions for larger areas like your abdomen.
It Takes a Few Months to See Results
I remember thinking I was going to walk out of the treatment with my fat magically gone, but that didn’t happen. Ghavami explained that I would see the best results after my second round. “Twenty to twenty-five percent of fat reduction is expected after two sessions,” he says. “Three to six months after the second session is when you’ll really see the best results.” He was right; one morning, I looked in the mirror and noticed that my chin and stomach were both noticeably slimmer. But you have to have patience.
Smaller Areas Might Not Be Worth It
When I got my chin done, the results were so effective that I actually wasn’t able to get a second treatment there (because there was no fat available to be frozen off). “The applicators are a certain size, and for smaller areas, if it doesn’t grab on, you can’t do it,” says Samolitis. In that case, Kybella (an FDA-approved injection, which contains a naturally occurring molecule that dissolves fat) might be more effective. But while both treatments can lead to inflammation and swelling, Samolitis warns those side effects tend to last longer with Kybella and the procedure is generally less pleasant than Coolsculpting. You typically also need more than two Kybella treatments to see longer-lasting results.
Another thing you should know about getting Coolsculpting on your chin is that it’s one of the most uncomfortable areas. For me, it felt like having a hand pressed against my throat, so I’d advise giving careful consideration to this area if you’re claustrophobic or triggered by the sensation.
It’s Meant for Stubborn Areas
This isn’t a magic wand to help get rid of all your fat—and it’s not a replacement for a healthy diet or exercise. It’s really meant for fine-tuning. “Anybody who is significantly overweight, or who is over 20 pounds from their desired weight, is probably not going to be wowed by the effects of Coolsculpting,” says Samolitis. “Fat can still grow. There is no way Coolsculpting can remove 100% of it.” Rather, if there’s a small, stubborn area you want tweaked, Coolsculpting could be an option.
The Massage Is the Worst Part
After the doctors remove the applicator from your body, they immediately start to massage out the lump of frozen fat. This is by far the weirdest, most annoying part of the experience. I can’t compare it to anything else I’ve ever tried—just imagine that your fat has been frozen into a block, and someone must rapidly thaw it. It was bizarre feeling pressure from the technician’s hands, but not actually feeling her touch. Some patients say this part hurts. Personally, I would describe it more as intense discomfort.
The Price Depends on How Many Applicators You Need
Your doctor may use more applicators to impact how much fat gets reduced. “You need more applicators angled in different ways to get that sculpting effect,” says Samolitis. “People have different patterns of fat distribution. Sometimes one person may need three applicators over two rounds, whereas another may need five applicators over two rounds.
I had one applicator on my chin and one on my abdomen for a total of three treatments: one on my chin, two on my stomach. Most places that offer Coolsculpting charge per applicator, not per session. “Most people offer packages because rarely there’s a case where someone only needs one applicator with one treatment,” says Samolitis. Prices vary depending on where you live, but at Ghavami’s office, where I received Coolsculpting, treatments on your chin range from $700 to $800 and can typically withstand only one mini applicator; while abdomen treatments range from $600 to $750 per applicator.
Beware of Counterfeit Coolsculpting
As Coolscupting gets more popular, counterfeit treatments (without FDA approval) are also on the rise. And while the price might be more affordable, they also have the potential to be detrimental to your skin. Samolitis says people who try these knockoffs often end up with extreme cases of frostbite. To make sure you’re being treated with a legitimate device, check it against the Coolsculpting site and always talk to your doctor about their experience administering the treatment.