The Surgeon Minute

Liposuction vs. CoolSculpting – Which is best?

Liposuction vs. CoolSculpting – Which is best?

Deciding between liposuction and a non-invasive fat removal device is more than just “Do I want to undergo surgery or not?” Both procedures work well but the results are not interchangeable. Dr. Brad Calobrace, a board certified plastic surgeon in Louisville, explains the difference between surgical liposuction and non-invasive fat removal devices when it comes to body contouring.

By M. Bradley Calobrace, MD
and Adam McMillon

hFreezing Fat Away

CoolSculpting may be the ‘hottest’ procedure in cosmetic medicine right now. It works by freezing a small area of fat that will then go away over the course of a few months. No surgery, no downtime, just results. While all of this is certainly something to get excited about, a distinction must be made between the type of fat removal CoolSculpting achieves vs. what liposuction can do. “The non-invasive devices such as CoolSculpting are shrinking away the area by permanently removing fat,” says Dr. Calobrace. “That’s not exactly what happens when we do liposuction and body contouring.”

“In body contouring, we’re actually trying to sculpt an area. We’re sculpting, creating shapes, etching the abdomen to get contours. I’m always looking – like a sculptor – at what I’m leaving behind. It’s the fat I’m leaving behind that’s important. Secondarily, I take away some fat that is unneeded to create the look. That’s something quite different from what non-invasive fat freezing procedures do, which just shrinks the area. ”

Patients want to know which is better

Everyone has different goals and desires, but one question always pops up immediately: “Which procedure is better?”

“It really depends on your goal,” says Calobrace. “If you just want to shrink an area and don’t want surgery, CoolSculpting and other non-invasive fat removal devices will work great. But if you want to have contour, a waist-line, areas of shape… you can only get that from a surgeon’s hand.”


Liposuction is about sculpting, not simply fat removal

The key here is that liposuction and CoolSculpting both remove fat and achieve real, repeatable results. It’s not so much which one is better as it is which one works towards your goals. “The two are providing two different results. They’re not interchangeable,” says Calobrace. “I don’t think the devices will replace liposuction because I never have done liposuction to just shrink an area a little bit. I always use it to sculpt an area, every time. I take all the fat away that I don’t want and sculpt with what’s left.


“I think if patient’s keep that in mind, they’ll know which kind of consultation to have. Non-surgical fat freezing procedures for limited fat removal or a surgical procedure to sculpt contours.”

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