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The Major Differences Between CoolSculpting vs. Tummy Tuck

Many people stick to a healthy diet and regular exercise to achieve a flat stomach. But the road to the ideal body shape isn’t easy because of different health and genetic reasons. Different body contouring solutions like CoolSculpting and tummy tuck are some of the best treatments to help people reshape their bodies.

So what’s the difference between a tummy tuck and CoolSculpting? Tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty) is a surgical procedure that removes unwanted fat and loose skin on the abdomen. CoolSculpting is a non-surgical fat reduction treatment that works on different parts of the body.

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The Difference Between CoolSculpting and Tummy Tuck

Recent developments in the field of medicine and cosmetics allowed experts to come up with different body contouring treatments. Two of these procedures are tummy tuck and CoolSculpting.

The tummy tuck is still a popular solution for anyone who wants to get rid of the excess fat and skin on their abdomen. But according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, this surgical procedure has experienced a decline in 2019 when only 123,427 abdominoplasty procedures were performed in the country. This rate is 5% lower than the 2018 record of 130,081 procedures.

One possible reason for this is the existence of non-surgical options like CoolSculpting. While it doesn’t provide results as dramatic as other surgical procedures, CoolSculpting is a lot safer than a tummy tuck procedure. Another thing that patients love about this treatment is that it only offers little to no downtime, allowing them to return to their normal routines in just a few days.

There are lots of factors to consider when choosing a treatment between the two. The patient has to consider their budget, time, health condition, and desired results before choosing a solution. To help you decide which treatment is the right pick, we’ve highlighted the differences between CoolSculpting and tummy tuck here:

 CoolSculptingTummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
What it isA fat reduction treatment that utilizes extremely cold temperatures to freeze the fat cells and allow the body to get rid of them naturally.A surgical procedure that removes excess fat and loose skin for a flatter abdomen.
Treatment areasThis treatment is good for any part of the body as long as there is pinchable fat that the device may cling to.This treatment only focuses on reshaping the patient’s abdomen.
Number of treatments required1 to 3 sessions1 session
DowntimeThe recovery period is only minimal. Patients usually return to their normal activities after a few days.Patients must be prepared for several weeks of downtime if they choose to undergo abdominoplasty. They may experience pain a few days after the treatment, but this eventually subsides as the body heals.
Cost$2,000 to $4,000 per session$7,000 to $11,000

How They Work


CoolSculpting is a great fat reduction treatment for patients who can’t get rid of stubborn fat pockets around the body. It removes the pinchable fat in the treatment area by freezing the adipose cells until they break down. The skin and surrounding tissues remain unharmed during the procedure, so the patient can trust that this FDA-approved treatment is completely safe.

Unlike surgical procedures that only work on large areas of the body, this treatment is also great for smaller areas, such as the legs, chin, thighs, back, flanks, and more. However, patients are advised to return to the clinic for multiple CoolSculpting treatments. The results also take a few weeks to show since the body has to flush out the frozen fat cells naturally.

Tummy Tuck

Abdominoplasty (better known as “tummy tuck”) is a surgical procedure performed by plastic surgeons to get rid of the fat, loose muscles, saggy skin, and stretch marks in the abdomen. Most patients who undergo this kind of treatment are usually those who experienced massive body changes caused by pregnancy or drastic weight loss.

The tummy tuck is often confused with liposuction, another type of surgical treatment that removes unwanted fat from different parts of the body. However, the main difference between them is that abdominoplasty takes care of the excess skin while liposuction focuses solely on removing the fat from problem areas.

During the procedure, the surgeon creates an incision in an area within the lower abdomen where the scar may be hidden by underwear. The size of the incision depends on the patient’s condition and how much correction is needed for the desired body shape. This allows the surgeon to remove the unwanted fat, loose skin, and stretch marks.

The whole process takes around two to five hours. It also requires the application of general anesthesia to help the patient bear with the pain and discomfort. This procedure is more invasive than liposuction and other non-surgical body contouring treatments because it involves tightening the loose skin in strategic places.

Treatment Areas

Abdominoplasty is only done on the abdomen to create a smooth and flat stomach. The surgeon creates an incision on the area between the pubic hair and the belly button. On the other hand, CoolSculpting is a more versatile treatment because it works on various areas, such as:

  • Upper or lower abdomen
  • Inner or outer thighs
  • Love handles
  • Arms
  • Chin area
  • Back fat and bra line
  • Under the buttocks

Patient Qualifications

CoolSculpting is a good treatment for people who want to eliminate fat in specific parts of the body. But like many cosmetic procedures, CoolSculpting may not be the right option for everyone. Here are a few signs to see if this treatment is the right one for you:

  • The current weight should be close to the target weight.
  • There’s enough pinchable fat in the treatment area.
  • The patient doesn’t want to remove fat through liposuction or other surgical procedures.
  • The patient fully understands how the treatment works and has manageable expectations about the results.

Abdominoplasty is a useful procedure for anyone who wants to tighten their abdominal muscle and reduce the sagging skin. Women who went through several pregnancies usually go through this procedure, as well as other patients who were previously obese.

But since abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure, this treatment may not be the best method for everyone. Patients are not qualified for a tummy tuck if:

  • They plan to lose more weight.
  • They want to get pregnant in the future.
  • They were diagnosed with severe health conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
  • They smoke.
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Recovery and Aftercare

CoolSculpting doesn’t require a lengthy recovery time. Patients typically return to their daily routines immediately after the procedure. However, they might experience minor discomfort after the treatment, such as redness, numbness, or soreness in the treatment area. Here are a few aftercare tips to help relieve discomfort in the area and prolong the results of the treatment:

  • Wear loose and comfortable clothes.
  • Drink lots of water to help the body eliminate the destroyed fat cells.
  • Take painkillers when the soreness becomes unbearable.
  • Apply a warm compress to the treated area to ease the pain.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activities for a few days.

Since it’s a surgical procedure, tummy tuck patients are required to rest for a few weeks after the surgery until the treated area heals completely. They’re also asked to take care of drains in their bodies after the surgery. Patients wear an abdominal binder for several weeks to prevent fluid buildup and provide support to the abdomen.

Surgeons usually provide detailed instructions to the patient about medications to take or avoid throughout the recovery period. They’re usually asked to avoid strenuous exercises for a few weeks. Smoking is also prohibited because it affects the healing process and causes complications.


The initial results of CoolSculpting are usually noticeable a few weeks after the first treatment. This procedure removes up to around 25% of fat in the treated areas. Depending on the desired results and the patient’s body shape, the doctor might require multiple CoolSculpting treatments to achieve optimal results.

The final results usually show after a few months. There is a delay in this process because the body takes its time to get rid of the destroyed fat cells naturally. While the frozen fat cells won’t return to the body once they’re flushed out, new fat cells may still develop in the treated areas. Patients are advised to follow a healthy diet and regular exercise after their CoolSculpting treatment to enjoy the results longer.

On the other hand, tummy tuck gives patients dramatic results and a toned abdomen. The excess fat and skin are permanently removed from the treatment area, but patients have to wait until their scars have fully healed. The results of a tummy tuck are also better persevered if the patient maintains a stable weight and a healthy lifestyle.

While both of these treatments and other fat reduction solutions provide the illusion of improved body shape, patients don’t really lose much weight after the treatment. Weight loss and fat reduction are two different things, so the treatments for them are also different. If you’re planning to lose weight, consult with a physician first about the possible treatment plans.

Risks and Side Effects

Non-invasive fat reduction treatments like CoolSculpting don’t usually have major side effects. However, patients might experience a few uncomfortable symptoms during and after their treatment. Here are some of the minor side effects that patients might experience during CoolSculpting:

  • Intense cold
  • Tingling
  • Pulling
  • Cramping

These symptoms usually subside once the treatment area becomes numb. Patients may also experience the following side effects after their CoolSculpting treatment:

  • Numbness
  • Redness
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Skin sensitivity

These side effects are also temporary and disappear after a few days. But if the symptoms persist, the patient should contact their physician immediately to relieve the discomfort and avoid further complications.

Like any other surgical procedure, certain risks might come with a tummy tuck. Here are some of them:

  • Seroma (accumulation of fluid beneath the skin)
  • Unexpected scarring
  • Numbness in the treated area
  • Tissue death or damage

All these risks may be prevented if the procedure is performed by a licensed and experienced physician. Make sure to check the doctor’s credentials and certification first before undergoing the procedure to avoid any mishaps or deadly complications.

Cost and Insurance Coverage

The national average of CoolSculpting treatments is priced at around $2500 to $4000 per session. This seems cheaper than tummy tuck’s $7000 to $11,000, but keep in mind that CoolSculpting might require multiple sessions. The exact prices for both treatments also depend on the provider’s skills and the clinic’s location, so make sure to consult with a physician about the budget and payment plans.

Both CoolSculpting and abdominoplasty are cosmetic procedures that aren’t covered by most insurance policies. Patients must prepare the money out of their pocket to afford the treatment.

4 Things to Consider Before Choosing the Right Treatment

With the myriad of body contouring treatments to choose from, patients often find it difficult to pick the right solution for their condition. Consulting with a medical professional is still the best thing to do before trying out any treatment, but here are also other factors to consider:

  1. Body and Health – Different treatments have different patient qualifications, but most of them require an individual to be healthy. The patient shouldn’t have any disease that might affect their recovery. Their medical history and the medications they take might also affect the body contouring procedure.
  2. Expected Results – CoolSculpting and tummy tuck produce different results even though they’re both body contouring techniques. The tummy tuck is great for dramatic results and a flatter stomach, but it doesn’t work for other areas of the body. CoolSculpting removes fat in different parts of the body, but the results are more subtle and natural-looking. Patients should expect an improved body shape after their treatment, but they might only observe a bit of weight loss.
  3. Budget – Since neither of the treatments is covered by insurance, patients have to carefully consider their budget. CoolSculpting is generally cheaper, but it requires multiple treatments in several months. The tummy tuck is more expensive, but it’s only a one-time procedure. Don’t forget to ask the provider if they offer payment plans or discounts.
  4. Downtime – The recovery time of each treatment is also important. Ask yourself if you can afford to take a few weeks off your job while the incisions from the tummy tuck heal. While CoolSculpting only has minimal downtime, it’s also important to consider if you’ll have enough time for the multiple treatments that are spaced a few weeks apart.

Achieve a Flat Stomach with NJ Center for CoolSculpting

There’s no need to undergo a risky surgical procedure just to achieve a flat and toned abdomen. Here at NJ Center for CoolSculpting, our specialists are experienced in performing cryolipolysis for patients who want to lose stubborn fat in the abdomen area. All of our services are performed inside state-of-the-art facilities to ensure a safe and effective treatment.

Take the first step towards achieving your ideal body shape with us here at NJ Center for CoolSculpting. Call us at (908) 628-1070 to book an appointment now.

Learn more: 6 Common CoolSculpting Areas for Men

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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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