CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction

There is a lot of discussion about what is better – CoolSculpting or Liposuction. Now assuming you are a candidate for both, which one is the better choice? Check out this handy guide comparing the two different procedures:


A big point for a lot of people is the cost factor. Any procedure is going to be costly, otherwise everyone would get it. However the average cost for CoolSculpting is quite a bit less than Liposuction. As with any comparison, price points are dependent on the person but the average cost for the abdomen (both upper and lower) for CoolSculpting is about $3,750. That is significantly lower than the national average of $8,000 for Liposuction. Oftentimes there are additional costs for anesthesia as well, which is not required for CoolSculpting. Another popular liposuction area are the thigh areas, which we can now do CoolSculpting on. So to get your inner thighs, knees, and outer thighs done with CoolSculpting would be around $4,500. Liposuction surgery would run roughly $12,000! Even if you needed double treatments on your legs you would still save money with CoolSculpting. So is CoolSculpting more cost-effective? From what we have found, yes. Could you potentially go hog wild with CoolSculpting and break even with Lipo? Yes, but that may mean you are more of a candidate for lipo anyway.
*Cost estimations are approximate and can vary from person to person as well as the clinic providing the procedure. These are averages based on large data collected.


This is a big one. Since CoolSculpting is a non-invasive procedure there is no downtime. Recovery is a breeze… after your CoolSculpting appointment you can resume normal activities immediately. Liposuction is an invasive procedure – you can expect to be recovering from a very minor procedure for a minimum of three days with the help of pain management drugs. Most procedures have recovery at roughly a week or more. It is important to remember that liposuction is an invasive procedure that is hard on the body, and therefor recovery is not easy.

Risks & Side-Effects

There are risks involved in any procedure, but some more than others. This is definitely the case here. CoolSculpting has minimal risks and minimal side-effects. We group together side-effects and risks because there are so few with CoolSculpting. Often patients report temporary side-effects after their procedure like redness, swelling, bruising, and skin sensitivity at the site of the treatment. These are common and usually go away within a few hours or weeks. A very rare side effect of CoolSculpting is called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, this occurs most in men but is very rare. This means the fat cells in the treatment site grow larger, rather than dying. It is not fully understood why this occurs, and is not a common occurrence. While this is a cosmetic side effect and not physically dangerous, it doesn’t disappear on its own and requires surgery to fix.

That is nothing compared to the common side effects of liposuction. To start off you can expect swelling, bruising, and quite a bit of pain. Elastic bandages and tape, support hose, a special girdle, or another type of firm-fitting garment may be used depending on which part of the body was treated. You may have to wear the compression garment or wrap for 3 to 4 weeks. Expect a lot of bruising and swelling for at least the first 7 to 10 days. You may be given antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection to the area. Other common side effects include irritation, scarring, baggy or rippling skin, and infection at the incision site (remember this is an invasive surgery). Less common side effects include permanent color changes in the skin, uneven skin surface over the treated area, damage to nerves and skin. Although death is very rare with liposuction, it can happen. Complications include excessive blood and fluid loss which could lead to shock. Fat or blood clots, which can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) and become life threatening. Build up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), this is most likely to occur when a large volume of fluid is injected into the body. Infection to the area, because this is more common, in some cases antibiotics may be given before or after the liposuction procedure as a preventative for infections. Toxic reaction to the injected solution (lidocaine toxicity), especially if large areas or many areas are being treated at one time. While these side-effects are rare, liposuction should be done only by a doctor specialized in liposuction and surgery of the skin and in how to respond to complications during surgery. You will also be less at risk for complications if liposuction is not done at the same time as other cosmetic procedures.


Neither CoolSculpting or Liposuction give immediate results. CoolSculpting results can begin to appear as soon as 4 weeks after your first session, however best results are seen about 3 months after. Liposuction results can be noticeable a few weeks after surgery, once the swelling has gone down and improvement may continue for several weeks or even months as the swelling goes away. The full effects of having liposuction may not be visible for several months to a year.


The big thing to remember is that CoolSculpting is not surgery. It is non-invasive. There are no needles, no downtime, no anesthesia. Liposuction is surgery and anesthesia is strongly recommended. There are needles and incisions and require a very specialized doctor to perform to avoid the many risks associated with such a procedure.

Key take-away

The thing to remember here is that if you are a good candidate for CoolSculpting, it is a safer, more cost-effective procedure. However, if you hare severely over weight, liposuction may be your best route but it is important to note that people who expect liposuction to help them lose weight are usually disappointed. The only way to know if CoolSculpting really is right for you is to book a free consultation.