CoolSculpting Review: Is It Worth It? A Detailed Look

By Lydia Noyes
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Jul 5, 2019

CoolSculpting is a branded form of cryolipolysis and is an FDA-approved process for long-term fat reduction. Cryolipolysis is considered to be a nonsurgical alternative to liposuction and other fat-reducing procedures.

The technology works by freezing fat cells on your trouble spots so that they die and shrink away, leaving you with up to 25% less fat in the treated area within two to six months of treatment.

The CoolSculpting website states that this procedure is a safe and effective way for people who are close to their goal weight to shed excess body fat. According to the company website, cold temperatures don’t harm non-fat cells, so you don’t need to worry about damaging the rest of your body.

Rather than slimming your entire body, CoolSculpting is FDA-cleared to treat nine parts of your body including under the chin and jawline, along your thighs, abdomen, back, upper arms and underneath the buttocks.

It’s not intended to be used as a weight loss procedure and is considered best for people who are already close to their goal weight and following a healthy lifestyle.

But is it really possible to freeze your fat off for good? Let’s look at the facts behind this procedure so you can determine whether it’s worth considering.

How Does CoolSculpting Work?

From what we learned from the American Society for Dermatology Surgery, cryolipolysis is a technical term for fat freezing. The amount of fat cells in our bodies varies little between childhood and adolescence, and these cells shrink or expand depending on your lifestyle.

Some people naturally have stubborn pockets of fat that don’t disappear despite dieting and exercising, so CoolSculpting is suggested as one way to kill off fat cells so that your body can eliminate them.

Most CoolSculpting appointments take place in designated clinics or plastic surgery offices. The first step is applying a clear gel pad to the treatment area to act as a barrier between the cold apparatus and your skin. An applicator is then positioned on your treatment area and begins cooling down and sucking on your skin. The CoolSculpting technician will gently move it across the treatment area to break up the fat cells.

While appointment time varies depending on what you’re treating, most will last between 30 minutes to three hours. It’s also possible to perform treatments on multiple parts of your body at once by using more than one CoolSculpting apparatus. You can relax during the procedure and use the time to read, talk on the phone, or work on your computer.

At the end of the session, you will receive a brief massage over the treatment area to break up the fat cells and speed up their elimination from your body. You might be left with temporary redness, swelling, and other signs of skin sensitivity. These side effects typically disappear quickly.

Beyond these symptoms, the CoolSculpting website states that there is no recovery time after the procedure and that you will be approved to resume normal activities immediately after. You should start noticing your results within three weeks of treatment, and it might take up to six months for the fat flushing process to finish.

As each treatment can remove up to 25% of fat cells in the treatment area, you may need to undergo the procedure multiple times to achieve the results you want. The CoolSculpting website states that your provider will talk you through your options so that you can make the best decision for reaching your goals.

CoolSculpting is not a weight loss treatment, and it’s possible to regain the fat it breaks down if you don’t follow a healthy lifestyle afterward.

» Recommended Reading: How Does Coolsculpting Work: Effectiveness, Side Effects, and Cost

CoolSculpting Cost

We learned from the official CoolSculpting website that the cost of treatment varies considerably depending on where you live, what you’re having treated, and how many sessions you need.

The general cost ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 for a treatment, but your price may vary significantly.

Smaller treatment zones, such as under the chin, may cost as little as $700.

You can use this search tool to find local CoolSculpting treatment centers and do your own price comparisons.

» Recommended Reading: How to Find the Best Plastic Surgeon: Expert Tips and Warning Signs

CoolSculpting Safety and Side Effects

CoolSculpting is branded as a noninvasive medical procedure, but is it really safe? We dug into the facts on the treatment website to learn more.

To begin with, the brand makes it clear that CoolSculpting isn’t for everyone. They note that those who have cryoglobulinemia, cold agglutinin disease, or paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria aren’t candidates for it and that it’s crucial that you talk with your doctor beforehand if you have recently undergone surgery, have a pre-existing hernia, or have known sensitivities or medical conditions that may interfere.

Common side effects during and after CoolSculpting might be uncomfortable, but they aren’t considered dangerous. However, there are a few conditions to be concerned about.

“Be aware of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia,” says Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, a board-certified plastic surgeon at Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery. “This is a rare reaction where the fat cells swell after treatment, causing a bulge, and it requires liposuction to treat.”

Complications aren’t likely, as an analysis from the Aesthetic Surgery Journal reported that less than 1% of those treated had any complications whatsoever. These findings were confirmed in a study from Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Is CoolSculpting Effective for Long-Lasting Fat Loss?

From what we found on Medical News Today, CoolSculpting, and cryolipolysis more generally, have a high rate of success. This means this treatment usually succeeds in removing unwanted body fat after a few treatments.

“CoolSculpting results in a permanent reduction in fat cells and even better, a noticeable reduction in the appearance of those hard to get rid of bulges,” says Dr. Jacob Steiger, a double-board certified plastic surgeon.

“It is not like any other fat removal or reduction procedures. It doesn’t burn, shatter, or extract any cells, and there are no knives, suction hoses, needles, or scars.”

However, it’s important to clarify this procedure isn’t a miracle cure and that it can’t remove all fat. If you don’t exercise or follow a healthy diet, then CoolSculpting won’t help you restore your figure. Likewise, some people respond more positively to the treatment than others and experience more dramatic results.

It’s also worth noting that CoolSculpting can’t tighten your skin. This means your skin might look looser after treatment if it’s been stretched out around fatty tissue.

CoolSculpting also isn’t the procedure to turn to if you want dramatic results. As it will only remove approximately 20% of the body fat around a given treatment area, it’s possible that the improvements might be too subtle for most people to notice. For some people, these results might not be worth the treatment cost.

Analysis of CoolSculpting Customer Reviews and Complaints

This fat-freezing procedure averages 3.8 stars after more than 1,000 reviews on the official CoolSculpting Facebook page. We noticed many one-star reviews from people who didn’t think the process worked or that it cost too much for the subtle results they saw.

However, there are also hundreds of five-star reviews from people who loved their results, many of whom included progress photos to highlight its success.

Many of these positive reviewers stated that CoolSculpting helped them trim fat they weren’t able to budge from diet and exercise alone and that they enjoyed the treatment process because it was low stress, not painful, and required no recovery time.

We found few reviews between these extremes, which we think shows that many people signed up for CoolSculpting with unrealistic expectations.

This highlights the importance of doing your research beforehand so that you have realistic expectations for what CoolSculpting can deliver so you can determine whether it is worth it for your situation.

What Are Popular Alternatives to CoolSculpting?

When it comes to removing stubborn fat, CoolSculpting is just one available method. Two other popular methods include Ultherapy and liposuction.

Like CoolSculpting, Ultherapy is an FDA-cleared, non-invasive procedure for fine-tuning your appearance. However, this technique relies on ultrasound technology, and it’s used to tighten the skin around the face and neck in the style of a facelift.

The procedure takes about the same amount of time as CoolSculpting, both in-office and to see results after. However, Ultherapy is known to be painful, so many people take painkillers beforehand.

Expert opinions on the effectiveness of Ultherapy for lasting results are mixed, but we found that many people consider it to be an affordable alternative to traditional facelifts.

Liposuction is similar to CoolSculpting in that the focus is removing unwanted fat pockets. Where it differs is that liposuction is a surgical procedure that naturally comes with higher risks of problems.

In fact, a review from Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reports that 20% of liposuction patients experience minor complications, though less than 0.5% experience significant ones.

You may undergo local or general anesthesia during liposuction, and it takes longer to recover from the procedure. However, you should notice your results from liposuction immediately, and they tend to be more dramatic. While prices vary considerable, liposuction usually costs around $3,000–$4,000.

The Bottom Line: Should You Consider CoolSculpting?

To pull everything together, is CoolSculpting worth it? The research we found and the experts we spoke with all came to the same conclusion; this fat freezing technique really works, but it’s not likely to overdeliver.

The process of cryolipolysis is an effective way to damage fat cells so that your body expels them, and the procedure puts the rest of your body at minimal risk of complications.

Each treatment is quick, relatively painless, and requires no downtime; but that’s not to say there aren’t any downsides. The biggest ones we found were the cost, the subtly of the results, and the lag time (up to six months) before they are visible.

Those who already check these boxes but who still want to look slimmer might find that CoolSculpting can deliver what they want.

If you’re intrigued by its potential, we recommend calling local CoolSculpting clinics near you to learn more about pricing and potential benefits for your unique situation.

If you’re looking to lose fat for good, we still think the best method is following a healthy diet and getting enough exercise. You could start a daily walking routine, the benefits of which we talk about in our guide to walking 30 minutes a day.

Read 64 CoolSculpting Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Customer Rating: 1.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 5 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 8 1 star:  51
Bottom Line: 8% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 64
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  • Don't do it

    • By Marion E.,
    • Great Britain,
    • Dec 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I am going through a nightmare, after having the fat on my abdomen double in size, which has also given me an umbilical life-changing hernia. So worried about mesh and sutures used to fix the hernia and look 7 months pregnant. It's changed my life. Had no health problems, now I am terrified of what will happen next.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Don't waste your time and money on CoolSculpting

    • By Shetal S.,
    • Oceanside, NY,
    • Dec 3, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    After much debate and going back and forth I finally committed to CoolSculpting and was so excited to get rid of the extra fat on my stomach that I haven't been able to get rid of after having 2 babies. I met with Annette and she made me feel at ease and really convinced me that CoolSculpting would work for me like it did for her. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The first session I had was in March 2019 and I did the 4 quadrants of my belly (so 4 sections) and hardly so any results. Annette was also shocked to see such little results if any and felt awful for me. She mentioned to try a different machine and I should definitely see a difference with that one. So in June 2019 I had my second treatment and now 4 months later I can honestly say that there has been no change. After the 1st treatment my stomach was a little uneven, as if one quadrant flattened a little which made the other part of my belly look like it was sticking out. So they re-positioned the larger applicator hoping to get rid of the bulge but no luck. I am thousands of dollars out and don't really have much to show for it. I've been working out, eating healthier and have gone back to hot yoga and am starting to see some results. I've always been active and I just wanted a little bit of help with the extra flub but should have known that it was too good to be true. Don't waste your money on coming here for CoolSculpting, it's not worth it.

    Update: So I've been calorie counting and working out like a maniac and have lost almost 10 lbs. I see that I am toning up but sadly I've noticed that my abdomen area where I did the procedure is not gaining any muscle mass.

    It's almost as doing this procedure ruined that area. It's so depressing. I'm 5'7 and 132lbs there is no reason my belly should be sp flabby especially after doing the procedure 2 times!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • CoolSculpting disappointed

    • By Amy W.,
    • Pennsylvania,
    • Nov 2, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    A lot of hype and big promises with no result. Wasted money! Save time and money and do a procedure that gets results. Larger percent of people not getting results than they tell you. No refund and then they will try to talk you into doing more, spending more money with no guarantee.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Not impressed

    • By Annie S.,
    • New Zealand,
    • Oct 3, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have done four treatments and have seen no result, in fact, some of my stomach areas now seem to be irregular with indentation.

    I found the treatment uncomfortable and sometimes painful. My last treatment I still had discomfort two weeks later.

    There is a lot promised with this treatment but no significant results. I'm really disappointed.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Not worth it!

    • By Amy M.,
    • Hampton Roads, VA,
    • Sep 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was told that I could expect at least 1 inch off my thighs if I completed 2 rounds of treatment. I paid for and completed the two rounds and my results were null. I lost 0 inches! The company, Ideal Image, has not responded to my complaint and I don't expect they will. That was an expensive lesson.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • 21st Century snake oil

    • By Elle J.,
    • Dayton, OH,
    • Aug 8, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had two areas treated - hips and belly. After 30 days, my hips DO seem to have shrunk, but I see no appreciable difference in the belly. However, I DO note that my rear end is bigger!

    There is a reason why CoolSculpting salespeople, techs, and staff say specifically that the procedure does not cause weight loss (which, you would think would be the case if fat cells were being burned off, right?).

    Nope, white fat cells in the TREATED areas (in my case only one of the two) do diminish, the fat cells in other areas are still there, and they take on the extra fat that the old area no longer can.

    This makes common sense, and if I had thought it through, may have come to the realization by myself, but $3k later, and one (relatively unpleasant) treatment to go, it finally dawned on me.

    If you want to shrink a particular area, go for it, but expect some other area to take on that bulge.

    Expensive lesson to learn - "sounds too good to be true" - this sure was.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Awful service, awful management.

    • By Lila R.,
    • Lakewood, WA,
    • Jul 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I wish I could give a zero star review. I never intended to get involved with this company until it was too late. I went for WHAT THEY ADVERTISED as a free CONSULTATION of their services. What it actually was was a ploy to get me to sign a contract I now can’t back out of. Before I even knew what was going on, they had my personal information, a "treatment" plan and a contract with my signature. The treatment plan was going to cost me over $4000! When LATER THAT DAY I decided I didn’t want to do CoolSculpting they told me I was bound by contract and I couldn’t do anything about it. The best they could offer was cancel my appointment but I would still have to pay the $4000 for services I would never receive. Over the last few weeks, I’ve tried to contact the clinic and while at first they were responsive, they’re now completely ignoring me. Just so that they can have their money.

    This is a disgusting tactic. I haven’t received any services so they wouldn’t even be refunding me. But they’re basically forcing me to use their services. Body image is something that changes daily for individuals, you can’t bind a person by contract and make them change themselves. I’ve read reviews of this company and I wish I had read them sooner. Then maybe I wouldn’t be here writing this review. I would never recommend this place to anyone. They trick you and then ignore you if you have a problem with them.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Don’t waste your money

    • By Mini S.,
    • Fort Lauderdale, FL,
    • Jun 26, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had two cycles on my back area. Both were done with promises of some results to be seen. It did absolutely nothing! Not one single thing look different what a waste of money. $1000 down the drain

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • SCAM

    • By Connie C.,
    • Seattle, WA,
    • Jun 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had my upper and lower abdomen done, upper in one session and lower in another session. The upper session was more uncomfortable than the lower, each session left the area tender for at least a couple of weeks, like it was bruised but no bruising showing, but I felt this would be worth it when there were noticeable results. Two and a half months after, I had a wedding I was in and hoped for at least a little change, nope. After 4 months and almost $4000, not one person has said I look like I have lost weight, my clothes are just as tight as the day I inquired about the procedure. When I went back after the wedding for my follow up and I said how disappointed I was, she pointed out this minuscule difference on my "after" photo (my "after" photo would never be used in one of their pamphlets). I pointed out that no one is going to see that because when I put on my clothes I look exactly the same. She was supposed to get back to me the following week about redoing the upper portion, haven't heard from her yet, even when I left a message for her after a month from when she said she would get back to me.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • No noticeable results

    • By Suzanne J.,
    • Cheyenne, WY,
    • May 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had one session on my lower abdomen. I am not overweight but just have some fat on my abdomen that I cannot get rid of even with exercise. I did not notice any results at all. I did not return for additional sessions. My abdomen was much more sore than I had anticipated. I was not impressed by the results.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Well...I wouldn't do it again.

    • By Bev F.,
    • Pittsburgh, PA,
    • Mar 26, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I spent $4500 on 8 treatments - which was actually two appointments. This is a little misleading, as one would think 8 treatments would be 8 appointments. I misunderstood or it wasn't clarified. But onto the treatment. It isn't pleasant, but the treatment was nothing compared to the side effects. They will tell you numbness can occur - I had it for 6 weeks. The bruising was also an issue. However, in fairness, I bruise easily, so I wasn't surprised. I dreaded the second treatment, and had I not paid...the side effects were not as bad.

    Is my stomach flatter - yes. Would I spend $4500 to get the results - no.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

Showing 1-11 of 64

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