Getting rid of stubborn fat deposits on your belly, thighs, and buttocks can be challenging even if you diet and exercise. The layer of adipose fat on these body areas is notoriously difficult to get rid of, and many people turn to liposuction or cryolipolysis. While both are approved options for getting rid of excess body fat in these areas, there are limitations that may make one more appropriate than another for the results you seek.
What is the Difference Between Cryolipolysis and Liposuction?
Liposuction is a form of cosmetic surgery which involves the mechanical removal process of fat cells done under strictly controlled conditions. After removal of fat cells patients can expect a modest amount of inherent skin shrinkage depending on their age, quality of skin and location on the body. Additionally, more advanced medical devices and modalities of liposuction are available to enhance fat removal and further skin tightening . At Modern Surgical Arts of Denver we offer VASER Advanced Liposuction and Renuvion®. Although liposuction alone is considered minimally invasive, it is still a surgical procedure performed by a board-certified surgeon at Modern Surgical Arts. Body contouring procedures should be assessed by your treating surgeon for a proper diagnosis, thus depending on the patient’s condition not everyone is a candidate for liposuction. Sometimes excision and removal of excess skin and fat tissue may be the recommended treatment such as in the lower abdomen of a woman who has had multiple children. Liposuction is thus more predictable, and results driven when performed in the hands of a board-certified surgeon. The procedure can be performed in multiple areas of the body simultaneously, effective with only one treatment. Liposuction can remove more significant amounts of fat over larger areas. Liposuction can be performed under a conscious sedation (twilight sleep) for maximum patient comfort. As with any surgical procedure, liposuction has its own risks, benefits, and recovery time which can be anywhere from 4-6weeks.
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Cryolipolysis devices are not invasive and involves application of cold temperatures through the skin to freeze fat cells to the point of necrosis (cell death) in a specific area. Over time, those destroyed cells are mobilized and removed out of the location over several weeks. One of the issues of cryolipolysis is not all the destroyed fat cells are removed, which can lead to “lumpy” areas and uneven contour of the specific body area. Cryolipolysis is also limited to certain areas of the body depending on the device’s skin paddle dimensions and accommodation to the patient’s body part. Treatments are performed in small to mid-size areas around the body. It can be the ideal treatment for young patients with good skin elasticity and minimal stretch marks in small trouble areas. Multiple sessions may still be need to be performed over several weeks in order to achieve ideal results. Keeping in mind that freezing of fat cells does not do anything directly for the overlying skin in regard to shrinkage so it relies on the patient’s inherent ability to contract the skin for proper contours. One of the biggest risk factors with cryolipolysis to consider is “Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia” (PAH) which is a reaction to the process of freezing fat cells. After treatment some of the fat cells in the area can undergo a process called hyperplasia where cells increase in size and shape. This enlargement of cells triggered by the cooling mechanism can lead to irregular firm nodules that can be aesthetically bothersome. These nodules can develop several weeks after treatment and can be permanent. Although this is a benign condition, patients can feel and see the areas to be larger than the surrounding area on the body. Additionally, cryolipolysis procedures are commonly performed by non-physicians untrained in proper evaluation and diagnosis in body contouring. This is a very challenging condition to treat and oftentimes requires surgical intervention. This procedure can also be very painful in certain areas of the body so tolerance for the required multiple sessions can vary from patient to patient. Comprehensive knowledge of the body and its anatomy is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment for body contouring.
Choosing one over the other depends on which one best addresses your goals and whether you need immediate results.
Liposuction with Cryolipolysis Comparison
|Provider||surgeon/physician||Non-physician (RN, PA, NP, Esthetician|
|Anesthesia||Local and sedation||+/-Topical|
|Risks of lumps/dimples||yes||yes
|Recovery||Single 4-6week period||2-3weeks period per session (6-10weeks)|
|Cost effective||More when treating multiple areas simultaneously||More with single area only and with minimal sessions|
*Can be combined with other devices and procedures for optimal results
**depending on body area, patient’s desires, provider recommendation
***Paradoxical Inflammatory hyperplasia
Fat Reduction or Body Contouring?
Both Cryolyplysis and Liposuction reduce fat, but liposuction also allows a skilled cosmetic surgeon to target specific pockets of fat cells and contour the body. They selectively remove fat to reveal underlying muscle and target areas of “fat bulges.” A board-certified surgeon can not only remove the fat cells in a controlled fashion, but also elect to shrink or remove excess loose skin as part of the procedure. Additionally, the fat cells can be used to transfer to other parts of the body for enhancement or rejuvenation. The result is a sleek, smooth look that is not achievable with Cryolyplysis.
If you have small areas of fat under the chin or love handles (flanks) and want to reduce those final few troublesome areas, Cryolyplysis may help. The recovery time can be quicker because no incisions are made, and there is no bruising. However, the results are not as dramatic, and the patient’s diagnosis and expectations should be taken into consideration prior to treatment.
Liposuction Before and After
Cost & Convenience
Cost and convenience are always a consideration, but these can be difficult to compare with Cryolyplysis and liposuction. Part of the problem is a single session of Cryolyplysis is less expensive than liposuction, but the results are not comparable and sometimes minimal. You can remove far more fat from a larger area (or multiple areas) and contour quite effectively with one liposuction treatment, while getting the same results with Cryolyplysis may not be possible. If it is possible, it could take three or more treatments to get rid of the same amount of fat. The cost may be spread over several treatments, but the end price tag can be just as much or more than plastic surgery.
Cryolyplysis is more convenient if you want spot treating and do not have much free time. A Cryolyplysis session does not require anesthesia, and you leave the practitioner’s office with no pain or incisions. Most people return to work the next day. However, they will not see immediate results. Although the procedure does destroy fat cells, it can take the body anywhere from a few weeks to three months to flush away the deal cells, so there is a considerable waiting period, and the results usually reveal themselves slowly.
Cosmetic surgery is an invasive procedure. The results are more dramatic, but recovery requires time. Recovery takes a few days to a week after the procedure for the bruising and swelling to subside. The results are immediate and permanent, but you will need to recover at home for about a week after liposuction.
Both Cryolyplysis and liposuction reduce fat deposits, but Cryolyplysis has more significant limitations. You can get mild to moderate fat reduction in small areas with Cryolyplysis. It is not meant to be a weight loss solution. While it targets fat cells in a specific region (such as the outer thighs), it does not differentiate between the location and contouring considerations of fat reduction.
Liposuction offers moderate to impressive reduction. Your plastic surgeon can shape or contour the area for maximum effect. You can also do liposuction on more areas of the body, including the buttocks, legs, belly, upper arms, and neck. Liposuction is often the best option if you want to see impressive results over a larger area.
If you are unsure whether Cryolyplysis or liposuction is right for you, a consultation is highly recommended with our board-certified cosmetic surgeon for a proper evaluation and diagnosis prior to electing either treatment in order to customize treatment for the individual patient and their aesthetic goals. At Modern Surgical Arts of Denver, every patient seeking body contouring will meet with our board-certified cosmetic surgeon, Drs. Dastoury or Zwiebel as their first step in the journey to achieving their aesthetic goals. The consultation goals are to 1. Listen to what the patients’ aesthetic desires 2. Evaluate and diagnosis clinical condition 3. Offer treatment which can best achieve the patient’s esthetic goals with time to review the risks and recovery of each treatment offered and opportunity for patients to ask questions.