With the latest statistical report from The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reporting a 42% rise in non-surgical fat reduction last year, many patients have asked whether Coolsculpting is replacing the need for liposuction and tummy tuck procedures at my Austin-based practice.

To answer this question, it is imperative to understand the differences between the trio, specifically who is right for each option and the specific results promised. With some significant differences, you’ll understand why I continue to stand behind offering all 3 options to meet the needs of my diverse set of patients.

Here’s a quick breakdown:


Who’s it for? The patient with small stubborn bulges around their middle, their thighs, or that area that has been ironically nicknamed “love handles” (there’s nothing to love about them… we know). This individual, despite a healthy and active lifestyle, has areas of pinchable pudge that just can’t be eliminated with diet or exercise alone.

What it does? Depending on the area of treatment, 2 different applicators are used to non-surgically target and freeze fat cells, leaving the surrounding tissues completely unharmed.

Anything else? It’s quick (1 to 3 hours, depending on the area), it’s performed in our office, and there is no recovery time. Of the 3, CoolSculpting is about the same cost as liposuction, but it has the least amount of downtime. This is an excellent procedure for our active patients, both men and women who do not have time for surgery, or want to take time off from the gym. Fat reduction is 20% to 25% over the 2 to 4 months following treatment. For some Austin patients, I only recommend multiple treatments per area to achieve noticeable results. At a minimum, this would be 2 treatments resulting in a 40% to 45% reduction. Results are noticeable after 30 days but the total treatment to transformation time is 3 months after the last treatment.


Who’s it for? The patient that is close to their goal weight, with firm skin, but with larger areas of pinchable fat on the back, abs, arms, neck, or elsewhere. Like CoolSculpting, liposuction is dedicated to spot treating, however, unlike its non-surgical counter-part, it is a one stop shop―results are much more dramatic and achieved in one surgical procedure. You can read more about the differences between CoolSculpting and liposuction in this related blog post.

What it does? Utilizing small incisions, a small suctioned tube called a cannula breaks up and suctions away fat. The incisions are then closed and compression garments are applied.

Anything else? The procedure takes approximately 2 hours (depending on the number of areas treated), is performed at our surgical center under general anesthesia, and requires 1 to 2 weeks of recovery time. Out of the 2 surgical options, liposuction is less costly and results can be flaunted after 12 weeks.

Tummy tuck

Who’s it for? The patient with separated abdominals and/or excess, lax skin, often following a pregnancy or a substantial weight loss ― no amount of time spent in a plank will repair this. Unlike CoolSculpting and liposuction, a tummy tuck procedure has an essential component in addition to fat removal: contouring.

What it does? An incision is made across the lower abdomen, the abdominal muscles are tightened and contoured, and any excess skin and fat is removed.

Anything else? The procedure can take between 2 to 34 hours, is performed at our surgical center in Austin under general anesthesia, and requires 1 to 2 weeks of recovery time. Tummy tuck is the most expensive option, however, it is by far the most comprehensive approach to shaping the waistline. Patients who choose to undergo CoolSculpting or liposuction but are actually best suited for a tummy tuck will surely be disappointed by a lackluster result.

As you can probably tell, there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment when it comes to fat reduction. While the stats might point towards non-surgical options like CoolSculpting, for many patients a liposuction or tummy tuck procedure is the only road to the beautiful, long-term results they are looking for. Regardless of which option you might think is the best fit for you, be sure to seek out the advice of a board-certified plastic surgeon. They’ll help you determine the best fit for your physique and goals.

You can compare the results yourself by browsing through the CoolSculpting, liposuction, and tummy tuck before-and-after photos. And if you’re ready to talk about your body contouring options, contact us online or call (512) 288-8200 to schedule an appointment.

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