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Coolsculpting vs. Sculpsure: Which is Better for Body Contouring?

Posted by June 3rd, 2016 in Body

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Every year, new solutions for common problems like stubborn body fat and cellulite come onto the market, giving patients more options for achieving their body and wellness goals. At Rejuvé, we are always excited when we are able to offer our patients a new treatment or service. We want to stay at the forefront of the latest technology in aesthetic medicine, and that’s why we often have new products and treatments before any other Bay Area practice.
Whenever we debut a new treatment, our patients have many questions. How does it work? What kind of results can I expect? How is this different from other treatments? There has been plenty of this kind of curiosity about SculpSure, the newest body contouring treatment that Rejuvé offers. In particular, patients want to know how it compares to CoolSculpting, which is also used to treat targeted areas of stubborn body fat like love handles, saddlebags, and belly fat. Though it’s not a substitute for a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Tang, this overview of CoolSculpting and SculpSure should help you get a sense of how these two treatments compare to one another.
How do CoolSculpting and SculpSure work?
Both CoolSculpting and SculpSure use a similar principle—changing the temperature of fat cells in order to permanently destroy the cells—but take an opposite approach. Just like its name implies, CoolSculpting works by making fat cells too cold. SculpSure, on the other hand, heats fat cells beyond the point of viability.
CoolSculpting works by drawing the tissue in the targeted area into the applicator device. The device applies suction while cooling the area, causing the fat cells to freeze. The frozen cells are no longer viable, and so your body naturally clears away these dead cells. Once these dead cells are removed, the treated area appears smoother and more contoured.

how coolsculpting works

SculpSure uses several flat applicators that are placed on the treatment area. These use a laser to heat the fat cells in the targeted area to the point that the cells are killed. Cooling plates are used so that you don’t feel the heat and your skin remains at a comfortable temperature during the SculpSure treatment. As with CoolSculpting, over time the body naturally removes these dead cells, reducing the fat in the treated area.

how sculpsure works

Overall, CoolSculpting and SculpSure use the same basic concept to destroy fat cells. One difference related to the temperature change, however, is that while cold stays concentrated in one place, the heat from SculpSure tends to extend slightly beyond the immediate treatment area. This thermal spread helps to create a natural transition between the treated and untreated parts of the body.
What are CoolSculpting and SculpSure treatments like?
Though CoolSculpting and SculpSure use a similar idea—changing the temperature of fat cells—the treatments themselves are quite different.
Each CoolSculpting treatment takes approximately 60 minutes. The applicator is placed on the treatment area, and the tissue is pulled and sucked between two plates in order to freeze the fat cells. Though some patients don’t mind the sensation of the CoolSculpting device, others dislike it. Dr. Tang makes sure that we do everything possible to keep patients comfortable during the treatment. Following the procedure, it is necessary to knead or massage the treated area before the patient can leave. Patients are able to get back to work or play right away.
In contrast, SculpSure treatments each take around 25 minutes. With SculpSure, up to four applicators are used at one time to fit the desired area(s). In some cases, two areas can be done simultaneously. These sit on top of the tissue, simultaneously keeping your skin cool while using laser energy to heat the fat cells. There is not any additional care needed during or after the SculpSure procedure; patients can get right back to work or play.
Are there side effects or risks associated with CoolSculpting or SculpSure?
With any treatment or procedure, it’s important to talk with Dr. Tang first about your treatment goals and your overall health before making a commitment. Though both CoolSculpting and SculpSure are safe and have FDA approval, these procedures are not necessarily suitable for all patients. After all, each person’s body is different—it makes sense that treatments should be personalized to suit you.
Both procedures do not require any surgery and therefore there are no scars. They do not require any general anesthesia or local anesthesia. There are no needles involved in either procedure.
With CoolSculpting, patients may experience sensations strong pulling or tugging from the suction device, but typically these subside after about 7 minutes of cooling. After the treatment, the area is firmly massaged. This can be temporarily uncomfortable, but reduces by the time the patient leaves. Following your CoolSculpting treatment, the treated area may have some redness, mild swelling, and occasional bruising. There is some soreness but this does not prohibit patients from doing any normal daily activities, nor are there any restrictions on your daily workout. These issues generally resolve within a week or two, though numbness in the treated area can persist for several weeks.
SculpSure does not require any suction or massaging. There are periods of warming with higher intensities of heat but this is immediately followed by a brief period of cooling. During the treatment there is some tingling and for some patients a sensation of cramping depending on the intensity of the treatment. The treatment overall is well tolerated. There is less redness following SculpSure treatments and less possibility of bruising, though there can be some swelling, which can last up to a week. There is some soreness, but this does not prohibit patients from doing any normal daily activities or exercising. Though it is a laser treatment, because the laser is working on cells beneath the skin rather than on the surface, people with all different skin colors can use SculpSure.
What areas of the body can be treated with CoolSculpting and SculpSure?
Both CoolSculpting and SculpSure are FDA approved, but CoolSculpting is currently approved to treat more areas of the body. The FDA originally approved CoolSculpting in 2010, and it can be used to treat the abdomen (muffin top, love handles, belly), flanks (saddlebags), and thighs. CoolSculpting is also the only non-invasive fat reduction procedure that is FDA approved for use on the chin, so it can also be used for facial contouring. SculpSure got its FDA approval in 2015 to treat the abdomen and flanks. FDA approval is currently being sought for other areas of the body, including the chin. Though both procedures can likely be used on other areas of the body (for example, the upper arms), those uses would be considered “off label.” In addition, because SculpSure does not require suction it can be used for certain patients who don’t have enough fat to suction with CoolSculpting.
What kind of results can you get from CoolSculpting compared to SculpSure?
Both CoolSculpting and SculpSure will give the best results to patients who are specifically trying to target stubborn fat. It is not uncommon that even people who exercise and are careful about what they eat still have fat that they just can’t seem to get rid of, often around the waist. CoolSculpting and SculpSure are both potential options for this type of patient. While they give excellent body contouring results, neither of these procedures is appropriate for whole body weight loss or for trying to remove a substantial amount of fat.
With CoolSculpting, you can expect to start seeing changes in the treated area as early as 3 weeks after your first treatment, but you’ll have more dramatic results after 2 to 3 months. SculpSure can be a little quicker to show results. You should see changes at 6 weeks after your treatment, and you’ll reach optimal results around 3 months out. With each of these procedures, how many treatments you will need depends on your unique body and on your treatment goals. With each, some patients need just one treatment, while others who have more fat tissue may need multiple sessions.
Both CoolSculpting and SculpSure work by killing off fat cells, which means that your results are potentially permanent so long as you maintain your weight. If you don’t maintain a health lifestyle and your body generates new fat, you’ll lose your results. It has been noted, however, that patients who have been treated with SculpSure who subsequently gained weight did not put on as much fat in the treatment area.
Rejuvé has just begun to offer SculpSure, and while you can find plenty of impressive before-and-after pictures and testimonials for this procedure, it’s still too early for Dr. Tang to personally vouch for its efficacy. In studies, SculpSure is getting comparable results to CoolSculpting. On the other hand, having treated patients with CoolSculpting for more than three years, Dr. Tang has seen firsthand the results that it delivers. Really though, it comes down to what will work best for you. Want to find out if you’re a candidate for one of these body-contouring procedures? Call Rejuvé at 408-740-5320 to set up an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Tang.

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