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Traditional liposuction vs Coolsculpting – can liposuction be better than the non-surgical competition

Posted on February 17, 2019

By: Dr. Asaf Yalif

Woman with flat abs wearing white briefs

Coolsculpting or liposuction? Liposuction or Coolsculpting? This question goes back and forth a bunch on the Internet and on TV. Today’s blog aims to provide you with some insight into why one might choose liposuction over the non-surgical alternatives or vice versa. At Y Plastic Surgery, the most effective solution is often plastic surgery such as liposuction for the patients we see in Atlanta and Alpharetta GA but we always discuss and consider non-surgical options.

Let’s review these options, their benefits and limitations, to help you figure out the best way to fight the fat!


Used for: Surgical fat removal. Removing targeted areas of stubborn fat, not overall weight loss. Can be utilized nearly anywhere on the body.

Best candidates: adults who are within 10 to 15 pounds of their goal weight who have areas of stubborn fat that don’t seem to reduce with exercise.

How It’s Done

Liposuction is a minor surgical procedure that addresses subcutaneous fat, which lies below the skin. We use small, hidden incisions to access the fat layer and then remove the fat through a tube called a cannula. The small access incisions are then closed. A compression garment is applied to make sure you heal without bumps/lumps that can develop when swelling fluid fills the space where the fat was before.

Recovery After Liposuction

Swelling in treated areas subsides with time and full recovery can be expected within 4 to 6 months. Incisions can hurt for a few days and there may be mild bruising. 60-70% of the fat in the treated area is permanently removed. Nearly anywhere with stubborn fat deposits can be treated. Please feel free to check our gallery for examples.


Used for: non-surgical removal of fat. Removing targeted areas of stubborn fat, not overall weight loss. Can only remove fat where pads can fit.

Best candidates: adults who are within 10 to 15 pounds of their goal weight who have areas of stubborn fat that don’t seem to reduce with exercise.

How It’s Done

Coolsculpting is done by placing the coolsculpting pads on the area to be treated and then waiting while the area is cooled for a period of time. The pad is then removed and the area massaged.

Recovery after Coolsculpting

The fat should re-absorb over a period of 2-3 months. One can expect a reduction of 20% of the fat in the treated area. There are no incisions and there is no diet alteration or garment to wear afterwards. There may be pain in the treated areas over several weeks, which should resolve. Uncommonly people will create abnormal fat as a response to Coolsculpting. This is called Paroxysmal Adipose Hypertrophy and may require additional surgical intervention for correction.

While there is no “downtime” multiple episodes of Coolsculpting may be required to achieve the reduction in fat that you are hoping for. This creates some degree of non-predictability of results and may take longer to achieve final results.

Lastly, there are not cooling plates sized for every place on the body this means your problem area may not be able to be treated with coolsculpting depending on the contour of the area.

Which Is Right for You?

For many adults, having an option that is non-surgical is a good thing. Whether they are scared of surgery or the perceived cost, or recovery, even knowing there is an option makes sense.

If you accept the limitations of Coolsculpting – 1) that not all areas can be treated , 2) that the percent of fat removed in any one area may be low and 3) that to achieve the result you want may require many treatment sessions, elongating “time to final result” and increasing cost dramatically, then Coolsculpting is the right choice.

Liposuction on the other hand is able to treat almost anywhere on the body while removing a large amount of the fat in any treated area. It can be used in conjunction with other energy modalities to augment its’ power (see our types of liposuction blog). While it may be bothersome to wear a garment to help the swelling go away the results from liposuction are far more dramatic than the non-surgical counterparts. Let’s not forget that the liposuction removed can also be transferred as in a Brazilian Butt Lift. And the cost is generally self-contained and the results fairly predictable.

Which is right for you?..

There is no right answer for everyone in every case, which is why I am happy to answer all your questions; just request a personal consultation using our online form. You can also call one of our offices at (404) 476-8774 (Alpharetta & Atlanta) to schedule an appointment.

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