1) Check that you’re a good candidate CoolSculpting is not a weight loss tool, so you should be close to your ideal weight before having the procedure. If you still have some weight to lose, wait it out. “Think of it more of, pardon the expression, the icing on the cake of your weight loss,” says Dr. Grant Stevens, an LA-based plastic surgeon. “CoolSculpting will help closer to the end of your journey to help with the contours and really add the finishing touches to your hard work.”
In order to be effective, you also need to have enough pliable fat that can be suctioned into the CoolSculpting attachments, which currently come in three sizes.
“If the applicator does not fit, you cannot create suction and you cannot start a treatment,” says Dr. Grace Liu, a dermatologic surgeon in Newport Beach. “The key is to have the area you want treated sized with a template. A lot of times patients think they will need a large [applicator] and I can show them with a template that a medium would fit better. Conversely, there are patients who think that they can treat their desired area [with a smaller attachment] and I show them that the large would accomplish a lot more.”
Speak to your provider about your options and whether you’re a good candidate for the procedure.
2) Ask how many treatments you’ll need “ Some people need only one treatment as they're happy with 20% fat reduction, while others do three or more treatments that can be repeated every two months or less frequently,” says Dr. Ronald Shelton, a New York City dermatologist. Make sure to mention your expectations during your consultation so your provider can use your input to create a treatment plan.
3) Find out who will be doing the procedure CoolSculpting is non-invasive, so it “is usually performed by a healthcare provider who is under the supervision of a physician,” says Dr. Richard J. Bruneteau, a plastic surgeon in Omaha, Nebraska. “This includes nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who manage the CoolSculpting machinery and apply applicator heads.”
4) Start documenting your experience Once you’ve done your research and decided to give CoolSculpting a try, you can give back to the community by documenting your experience. Writing a blog or review is also a great way to keep track of your photos, measurements, and opinions before and after CoolSculpting. Whether you’re on a path of self-improvement or just want to look a little bit better in a bikini, this is an experience you’ll want to remember.
5) Prepare for pain, just in case Roughly 10 percent of CoolSculpting patients experience pain after the procedure, explains Baltimore plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel P. Markmann. You may feel fine the whole time, but you might have pain that lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It's always a good idea to prepare ahead of time for any side effects that might occur.
“For those patients who have significant pain we recommend 600 mg - 800 mg of ibuprofen every 8 hours," says Teresa Mann, a Bozeman, Montana dermatologist. "On a rare occasions, patients may need a prescription medication to help reduce the pain. Some patients have found Spanks or other very tight compressive clothing to be comforting during the first couple of weeks following the procedure.”
Get these items in advance so you don’t have to run out and buy them during your recovery period, but always check with your provider before taking any medications or using compression garments.
6) Bring something to keep you busy “One body part (e.g. upper or lower abdomen, one flank, or one love handle) can be treated during each hour-long session,” says Houston dermatologist Dr. Melissa Chiang.
You'll simply be sitting or lying there during the treatment, so if you’re getting multiple sessions or body parts done, that time can really add up. Bring a book or a tablet computer to keep you entertained. Those treatment hours are also a great time to start a review, much like these people did:
7) Pay attention to your body Some side effects are normal after CoolSculpting; for example, you may experience some pain, swelling, and itching. But if you become concerned, contact your provider and report any problems you’re having.
Another thing to keep in mind: “I have noticed in my patients after CoolSculpting treatments that side effects vary depending on the area treated,” says Dr. Kent V. Hasen, a plastic surgeon in Naples, Florida. “The abdomen area is certainly the one area that has the most issues with numbness, tingling, and pain after the procedure. Other areas like the thighs, back, and love handles commonly have little to no side effects.”
8) Take photos Because the results process takes some time, it can be difficult to notice when the procedure is working. Take frequent photos of your target areas so you can compare them and more easily visualize the changes taking place.
9) Be patient Results can take anywhere from one to four months to appear. “You may start to see changes as quickly as three weeks after your treatment, [but] will experience the most dramatic results after two months,” says Scottsdale plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Shapiro. “Your body will still flush out fat cells and continues doing so for up to four to six months after treatment.” It’s important to remain patient and give your body time to dispose of the dead cells.
10) Remember that long-term results still depend on you As with any cosmetic treatment, the longevity of your results will depend on your future behavior. If you eat poorly and don’t exercise, CoolSculpting will not stop you from gaining weight (although it may not accumulate in your treatment areas like it did before the procedure). Maintaining a healthy diet and staying active are important to keep yourself looking great long-term.
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