Definition & Overview

Zeltiq CoolSculpting is the process of eliminating fat cells in the body with the use of extremely cold temperature. It is a popular noninvasive body sculpting technique that takes advantage of the concept of cryolipolysis to remove unwanted, stubborn fat deposits.

Cryoliposis is a medical procedure of destroying and eliminating fat cells with the use of freezing temperature. The process, also known as fat freezing, causes death to subcutaneous fat tissue without damaging the overlying skin and nearby body parts. Its general application is removing fat from certain targeted areas of the body and is not considered as a weight loss treatment.

CoolSculpting is one of the trademarked technologies for cryoliposis developed by a California-based company called Zeltiq Aesthethics. This technology is considered one of the most popular fat reduction techniques worldwide.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

Zeltiq CoolSculpting is offered to people with noticeable fat bulges in specific areas of the body, such as the thighs, stomach, belly, chin, and arms. The procedure is typically considered when all other methods of fat elimination have been tried but failed to deliver satisfactory results.

It is also suitable for those who do not want to undergo invasive procedures or do not qualify for such due to medical conditions such as hypertension or diabetes.

CoolSculpting is also considered for those who just wish to avoid the pain associated with cosmetic surgery or are not keen on taking pharmaceutical drugs or similar substances but would like to enhance their physical appearance.

However, this technique is not suitable for people who are severely overweight. Patients whose fat bulges are more than two inches in thickness may be asked to lose some weight before being allowed to undergo Zeltiq CoolSculpting.

The procedure is considered very simple and safe since it does not involve the use of drugs and no needles are inserted into the body. However, some patients may need to undergo more than one session of treatment, depending on the size and location of the fat tissue deposit that needs to be removed.

Most patients report high satisfaction rating a few months after the procedure. The results are typically completely visible two to four months after when the fat cells have been completely dissolved and eliminated. Patients report losing as much as 40% of their fat tissue deposits in targeted areas. If there is a need, the patient can schedule another Zeltiq CoolSculpting session four months after the initial one. The results can be permanent if patients are able to maintain their ideal weight and commit to an exercise regimen and a healthy diet.

How is the Procedure Performed?

CoolSculpting is an outpatient procedure that does not require anaesthesia or sedative, which means that patients are awake and responsive throughout the entire process. The patient is asked to lie down while the doctor locates the areas with stubborn fat tissue deposit. These areas are then marked and a cooling applicator with a specially designed cup is used to extract energy from the target fat tissue using vacuum pressure. The cooling process uses temperature of around -7 degrees Celsius and triggers a natural immune response that eventually kills the fat cells. The patient will feel intense cold during the first few minutes. The device is designed to provide immediate feedback and will indicate if the procedure is done. The target area is then massaged after an hour. The destroyed fat cells are eventually flushed out of the body in the following months.

The whole procedure could require one or two sessions, depending on the location and size of fat tissue deposits that have to be removed.

Possible Risks and Complications

Right after Zeltiq CoolSculpting, the patient may experience a tingling sensation in the target area. The skin may also appear red and inflamed. Some areas may even be tender to touch.

Some patients also report minor bruising, discoloration, and numbness.

Most of the complications experienced after this procedure are temporary and should be completely resolved after a few days.


  • Derrick, CD; Shridharani, SM; Broyles, JM (Jun 2015). "The Safety and Efficacy of Cryolipolysis: A Systematic Review of Available Literature.". Aesthetic Surgery Journal 35: 830–6.

  • Avram, MM; Harry, RS (2009). "Cryolipolysis for subcutaneous fat layer reduction". Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 41 (10): 703–8.

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