CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction: What is The Difference & How Do I Choose?

CoolSculpting™ and liposuction are both medical treatments that reduce fat. However, there are some key differences that you should know in order to understand which treatment is right for you.

How Do You Choose Between CoolSculpting And Liposuction?

Both liposuction and CoolSculpting aim to reduce fatty deposits but use dramatically different techniques and results may vary. So how do you choose which procedure is right for you? Obvious as it may sound, it depends on the individual. Each procedure has its own advantages and disadvantages and other aspects you should be aware of before committing to one or the other. We are going to give you an overview of the most important facts to know for you to make an informed decision.

What Is The Difference Between CoolSculpting And Liposuction?

Treatment Surgical Anesthesia Invasive Recovery Results Treats Obesity Treats Lipedema
Liposuction Yes Yes Yes few weeks in 1-2 months No Yes
CoolSculpting No No No None in 2-3 months No No


Here’s a breakdown of the main differences between CoolSculpting and liposuction in greater detail:

1. Surgical vs. Non-Surgical

One key difference is that liposuction is a surgical procedure, while CoolSculpting is a non-surgical procedure.

During a liposuction procedure, the patient is put under local or general anesthesia. Then, a small, hollow suction tube called a cannula is inserted beneath the skin and attached to a powerful vacuum. As the surgeon manually manipulates the cannula throughout the area, the targeted fat cells are permanently removed. Depending on the area treated, the procedure typically lasts 1 to 3 hours.

Liposuction procedure:

CoolSculpting is based on the science of cryolipolysis, a cold-based technology that involves a non-invasive device that is applied to a specific area and cools fat cells, which are then crystallized. The crystallized cells are then naturally metabolized by the body. For CoolSculpting, anesthesia is not required. The procedure typically lasts between 45 and 60 minutes per site and 2-3 sessions are recommended (one every 30 days) in order to get tangible results.

CoolSculpting procedure:

2. Small vs. Larger areas of fat

While liposuction is designed to remove larger areas of fat in the abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, upper arms or flanks, CoolSculpting aims at removing smaller areas of fat. For CoolSculpting, fat should be “pinchable”, which refers to the fat that is located under the skin and as such can fit into the applicator cup.

CoolSculpting is ideal for those patients who are looking into eliminating little-unwanted fat in areas like upper thighs, love handles or lower belly, while liposuction is a more viable option for those looking for major fat removal.
Neither liposuction or CoolSculpting treat obesity, and neither can be considered a weight loss solution.
While liposuction can be an effective solution in treating lipedema (an excess buildup and expansion of fat cells in the lower part of the body, causing disproportional hips and legs compared to the upper part of the body), CoolSculpting has not been proven effective against this condition.

3. Recovery Times & Results

Recovery time for liposuction usually depends on how extensive the procedure was. Under most circumstances, patients return to work after a few days and resume normal activities in a couple of weeks. Final results will be visible in 1 to 3 months.

CoolSculpting has virtually no recovery time and all activities can be resumed right after the procedure. Results are visible after 2 to 4 months, with a gradual reduction of the fat layer. You can expect to have up to 20-30% of fat reduction on the treated area.

Liposuction: Eligibility, Pros & Cons

These are the characteristics of the ideal candidate for liposuction:

  • Good skin tone and elasticity
  • Good overall health
  • No circulatory problems, diabetes or coronary heart disease
  • Realistic expectations of possible results that liposuction can achieve

Pros of liposuction:

  • More aggressive and complete fat reduction
  • Liposuction can be used to graft excess fat from the targeted site(s) to be used in other parts of the body (e.g. for body contouring)
  • Reduction or improvement of cellulite

Cons of liposuction:

Let’s not forget that liposuction is a surgical procedure and as such, it poses a certain level of risk. However, if you choose a board-certified surgeon, risks can be mitigated. Here are some of the complications that may occur:

  • Bruising and numbness
  • Inflammation or infections
  • Skin burns from the cannula movement
  • Pulmonary embolism (blockage of one of the pulmonary arteries)
  • Pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in lungs)

CoolSculpting: Eligibility, Pros & Cons

These are the characteristics of the ideal candidate for CoolSculpting:

  • The patient wishes to treat limited or small areas
  • Cannot have or wishes to not have surgery or anesthesia
  • Needs to pursue a non-invasive treatment option

Pros of CoolSculpting:

  • Non-invasive treatment
  • No recovery time (or very minimal)
  • Little risk

Cons of CoolSculpting:

  • Need multiple sessions for visible results
  • Erythema (reddened and irritated skin)
  • Swelling, bruising
  • Soreness and itching
  • Numbness in the treated area

Comparing Costs Of CoolSculpting And Liposuction

Here’s an overview of costs for each procedure across different countries in a high-quality clinic. Please note that prices are per area and that prices in different currencies are for reference purposes only and that they may change depending on the current exchange rate.

Liposuction

Country Price p.a. (€) Price p.a ($) Price p.a. (£)
UK 3300 3900 2950
US 2700 3200 2400
Turkey 2200 2900 2000
Mexico 1900 2200 1700
Poland 1500 1800 1300
Czech Republic 900 1100 800
Lithuania 500 600 450
Hungary 250 300 250

CoolSculpting

Country Price p.a. (€) Price p.a ($) Price p.a. (£)
USA 1700 2090 1500
Australia 1 250 1550 1110
UK 900 1100 800
Austria 600 750 530
Turkey 500 620 450
India 450 550 400
Czech Republic 400 500 350
Poland 380 470 340
Mexico 250 300 220

Still Unsure of What Procedure Is Right For You?

Qunomedical can help you choose the right procedure for you individual needs. We work with accredited clinics from all over the world to make sure you receive the best level of healthcare you can wish for. Contact us to discuss your options or for a free, non-binding quote - we’re happy to help you.

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About the author

Dr. Alexandre Figueiredo, Medical content manager

Alex is a medical doctor by training. He feels strongly about the current shortcomings of our healthcare system and thinks it’s about time that patients started benefiting from first-class, yet affordable treatment.

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