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Can CoolSculpting Go Wrong?

Body contouring is the latest trend for permanent fat reduction, and CoolSculpting is one of its most popular variants. CoolSculpting delivers permanent results, using technology that freezes fat cells, which the body then metabolizes into waste after 1-3 months. This procedure might seem too good to be true, and many patients wonder if there are any downsides to CoolSculpting.

So is it possible for CoolSculpting to go wrong? As far as most body contouring procedures go, CoolSculpting is safer as it is noninvasive, which means it doesn’t require any anesthesia or incisions. While there are still some risks and side effects, as is expected in any cosmetic procedure, CoolSculpting is widely considered as the more preferable option in surgical fat removal because of the high chance of success and much fewer risks associated with the procedure.

CoolSculpting: Procedure and Benefits

CoolSculpting is a noninvasive procedure that utilizes controlled cooling to break down stubborn fatty tissues. This is also sometimes called cryolipolysis.

CoolSculpting’s patented technology uses applicators on the skin’s surface to suction and to cool the fat cells. After extracting energy from the fat tissues, the cells gradually die and are metabolized a few weeks after treatment.

Some benefits of CoolSculpting are:

  • The entire treatment usually takes only an hour. Patients can book this during lunch breaks and get back to their lives with zero downtime.
  • Since it is a noninvasive procedure, there is no bleeding or scarring.
  • Patients can resume their day-to-day activities with no downtime after.
  • It can help get rid of 20%-80% excess fat in treated areas.
  • Treatment results are permanent, as long as patients maintain their body weight.

The “Stick of Butter” Effect

For the most part, CoolSculpting has a good safety record. In almost every case, it works as it is supposed to with the applicators freezing and disintegrating the fat cells before the body disposes of it.

However, there have been rare cases where the fat cells expand instead, hardening into an unnaturally shaped lump in response to the cold. This condition is called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), though it is sometimes referred to as the “stick of butter” effect. Instead of shrinking, the bulge supposed to be treated by CoolSculpting grows bigger and firmer than its surrounding tissues. It sometimes resembles a stick of butter because of the shape of the applicator’s suction.

The real number of cases where paradoxical adipose hyperplasia occurs during cryolipolysis is not certain. Initially, it was thought that PAH only happens in 1 out of 4000 cases, but some studies suggest that it may occur in 1 out of 138 cases. Doctors and researchers have yet to understand why this occurs, but

On a positive note, visible enlargement in the treated area can be successfully be reduced by surgical intervention after 2-5 months, as the fat needs to soften.

CoolSculpting Side Effects and Risks

Aside from the stick of butter effect, there are a few side effects and risks to CoolSculpting.

Side Effects

During the procedure: After the procedure:
  • Pulling
  • Tugging
  • Mild pinching
  • Intense cold
  • Tingling
  • Stinging
  • Aching
  • Cramping
  • Temporary redness
  • Swelling
  • Blanching
  • Bruising
  • Firmness
  • Tingling
  • Stinging
  • Tenderness
  • Cramping
  • Aching
  • Itching
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Sensation of fullness in the back of the throat (only if the treated areas were under the chin and jawline)

A side effect which occurs during the procedure will subside when the treatment area is numbed by the cold. Following the procedure, other side effects may occur, but these are usually mild and disappear after a few days.


For patients who have had a recent surgery, a pre-existing hernia, or other sensitivities and allergies, it is important to advise your doctor regarding this prior to your cryolipolysis treatment.

Similarly, you should not undergo cryolipolysis if you have the following conditions since these put you at risk for serious complications:

  • Cryoglobulinemia: a condition where abnormal proteins in your blood thicken with cold temperatures
  • Cold agglutinin disease: a condition triggered by cold temperatures which makes your body’s immune system attacks your red blood cells and destroys them
  • Cold urticaria: a skin condition where hives appear on your skin when it gets cold
  • Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria: a type of anemia where red blood cells are destroyed in cold temperatures

How Safe Is CoolSculpting?

Overall, CoolSculpting is still one of the safest fat freezing procedures. No life threatening or debilitating effects have been reported since cryolipolysis was introduced in 2012. Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia is a side effect that may cause some concern, but it has an incidence rate of around 0.0051% and can easily be corrected through laser treatment or liposuction.

CoolSculpting it at its most effective with an experienced doctor, proper planning, and multiple sessions to maximize results.

Three Tips To Get The Best CoolSculpting Results

1) Work With An Experienced Doctor

CoolSculpting is at its safest with a board-certified doctor at an accredited, hygienic clinic. A plastic surgeon will be familiar with all the risks involved with the treatment, and has been trained to perform the procedure multiple times. You can help minimize potential risks by consulting with a plastic surgeon you trust, and avoiding DIY cryolipolysis procedures using store-bought products or ice packs.

Most doctors have also observed that patients can tolerate the mild discomfort well during treatment. This has largely been helped by a relaxed and pleasant procedural setting. Most med spas who offer CoolSculpting let their patients nap, read books, watch television, or even use their laptops during the treatment.

2) Plan Your Treatments Properly

Evaluation is key with CoolSculpting since it was designed for patients who are looking for mild improvements and help truly stubborn love handles go away in the following treatment areas:

  • Under the chin
  • Under the jawline
  • Thighs
  • Abdomen and flank
  • Bra fat
  • Back fat
  • Underneath the buttocks
  • Upper arms

Aside from deciding where you will have cryolipolysis done, most doctors have many considerations before they qualify a patient as a candidate for fat reduction. Age and skin quality are important factors, as a doctor will try to picture how the area will look once the volume is removed.

Candidates also should be as close as possible to their ideal weight, or else the treatment will not be effective. Additionally, candidates should have enough fat cells so that once the bulge is removed, the area will not look indented.

3) Undergo Multiple Sessions

Having multiple CoolSculpting sessions over time can help lead to amazing results. According to one study done by a dermatologic surgeon in New York, having a second treatment within 30 to 60 days after your initial treatment can enhance the original results.

The study found that the first treatment triggers an inflammatory response from the fat cells and dissolves them in 60 to 90 days. If you perform a second session in 60 days, you can generate a stronger inflammatory response and destroy more fat cells.

The Premier CoolSculpting Clinic In New Jersey

The NJ Center for CoolSculpting has an experienced team of board-certified physicians and highly trained staff who prioritizes each patient’s safety and comfort. We have performed over 5,000 CoolSculpting treatments to highly satisfied patients at our luxurious clinic.

Before undergoing treatments, patients will consult with our team of doctors to check if they are eligible for the procedure. Our board-certified cosmetic surgeons will also thoroughly discuss with each patient how the procedure works so they can make an informed decision. Sign up for a consultation today and get trusted advice from New Jersey’s five star CoolSculpting clinic.

Learn more: Why Is CoolSculpting So Expensive?

Freeze your Fat away today at the NJ Center for CoolSculpting

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What Our Clients Say About Us

  • "The treatment itself was not uncomfortable. Afterwords, I felt great. I didn't really notice anything for about 30 days. After day 30 until about a month later, I started noticing that my favorite jeans were not as tight anymore. I wasn't having to suck in to get them buttoned. And by that two month period after my CoolSculpting

    Lesley Hamilton

    Age 41

  • "It's subtle at first, and then a month later you look and go, "Wow - It really did something!" It really moved the bar for me, and I'm feeling better about myself already. It feels so good to put on anything and know I look as good as I've ever looked. And I didn't say that or feel that when I was in my 20's, 30's, and 40's."

    Anne McMarthy

    Age 56

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