CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction & Tummy Tuck

When you make the decision to have a cosmetic procedure, you might feel like there are endless options. How do you know which ones will be best for you?

Cosmetic surgery procedures like liposuction and tummy tucks can help you to achieve a more sculpted figure. There are also non-invasive procedures like CoolSculpting. Below, we’ll explore the differences and similarities between these treatment options to help you make an informed decision.

What is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure in which excess or stubborn fat is suctioned away from certain areas of the body that do not respond to diet and exercise to create a more contoured shape. It is not a weight loss surgery — it is not performed on individuals who are moderately to severely overweight.

Instead, liposuction is reserved for patients that are within 30% of their ideal body weight. It is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures in the U.S., with more than 211,000 performed in 2020, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

What is the Liposuction Procedure and Recovery Like?

Liposuction is performed under general anesthesia or IV sedation. If a few small areas are being treated, it may be done with local anesthesia instead.

The surgery takes a few hours depending on how many areas are being treated and patients are able to return home the same day. Recovery is generally short, with patients being able to return to work and normal activities within the first two weeks after surgery.

Liposuction Complications

Liposuction is a relatively safe procedure with minimal complications. Risks include infection at the incision site, bleeding, fat embolism and seroma.

A unique complication that can occur with liposuction is a botched outcome resulting in bumpy, wavy skin and loss of elasticity. When liposuction is not performed by an expert plastic surgeon, common problems are asymmetries, irregularities, lumps, or dents that can be traumatizing for patients.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

Also known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgery procedure in which excess skin is removed and loosening of the abdominal wall is repaired so that the abdomen is given a tighter, more toned appearance.

A tummy tuck is not a weight-loss procedure and is not intended for patients that carry a significant amount of excess weight. It is ideal for older women whose abdominal muscles have loosened and have sagging abdominal skin due to the weight fluctuations caused by pregnancy or significant weight loss.

What is the Tummy Tuck Procedure and Recovery Like?

Tummy tucks are performed under general anesthesia. The surgery lasts anywhere from four to seven hours, depending on the extent of the patient’s unique needs and desired outcome. Patients typically stay overnight in a plastic surgery aftercare facility, but they can then return home for the remainder of their recovery.

Renowned cosmetic surgeon Dr. Cat Begovic has developed a specialized technique for tummy tucks that results in minimal pain and a quick recovery. With her innovative procedure, most patients are able to return to work and regular activities (not including excessive exercise or lifting heavy objects) about two weeks after surgery.

Recovery also involves wearing compression garments for about six weeks after the treatment is complete to ensure the best outcome.

Tummy Tuck Complications

A tummy tuck is a more invasive procedure than liposuction, which means that it comes with more potential complications. These complications may include infection, bleeding under the skin, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms, and pneumonia. It is extremely important to choose a skilled plastic surgeon who specializes in Tummy Tucks and who you trust will perform your surgery as safely and meticulously as possible.

What is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is advertised as a non-invasive cosmetic treatment in which fat cells are essentially frozen in areas where fat is difficult to lose through diet and exercise.

Also known as cryolipolysis, CoolSculpting uses freezing cold temperatures to break down fat cells. CoolSculpting has been widely promoted as a simpler alternative to liposuction and tummy tucks, but the results are not the same and the procedures are not interchangeable.

coolsculpting procesure in operating room

What is the CoolSculpting Procedure and Recovery Like?

During a CoolSculpting procedure, a trained practitioner uses a vacuum-like tool to isolate problem areas and blast them with freezing cold temperatures, essentially destroying the fat cells.

The patient is fully awake during this procedure. In most cases, patients can return home immediately after their treatment is complete. However, the treatment needs to be repeated at least one more time. For many people, it may need to be repeated several times.

About four to six months after the procedure, the patient can often see a difference of approximately 20% in the fat found in their problem areas.

CoolSculpting Complications

While it may seem like a simple “non-invasive” procedure, CoolSculpting comes with many potential complications. These include bruising, swelling, sensitivity, redness, and localized pain.

CoolSculpting can even lead to another significant problem called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, in which the procedure is essentially ineffective or damaging for a patient.

This problem is described by Dr. Cat here:

CoolSculpting creates significant scar of the tissues. It does not remove fat the way liposuction does or tighten skin the way a tummy tuck does. In some cases, it causes the fat to grow — something called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. I advise patients to get a consultation first so I can evaluate their anatomy and discuss surgical and non-surgical options. That way they can make the best possible informed decision for themselves.

Breaking Down the Differences: CoolSculpting vs. Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

Choosing the best cosmetic procedure depends largely on what you are looking for. When comparing tummy tucks and liposuction vs. CoolSculpting, there are significant differences between them. These differences can help you and your plastic surgeon determine which procedure will work best for your unique needs and desired outcome.

The Procedures

The main difference between all three procedures is what they entail. Liposuction surgery is a relatively short, simple procedure, but it can still require general anesthesia and a brief recovery time. Patients have to get medical clearance before surgery and need to take at least one week off of work after surgery to begin the recovery process.

Tummy tucks are the most extensive and invasive option, with the longest surgical time and longest recovery. Recovery often involves things like a walker, compression garments, and surgical drains. However, there are skilled Tummy Tuck plastic surgeons like Dr. Cat Begovic who has mastered techniques to ensure her patients have a quick and painless recovery.

CoolSculpting is the least invasive option and requires no real recovery time, but it does involve at least two or more sessions. There are a large number of potential CoolSculpting complications and no guarantee that the patient will see anything close to their desired outcome if they chose the non-invasive.

The Results

When it comes to results, both liposuction and tummy tucks are the best options. If you are looking to simply remove a small amount of excess fat and have a more ideal figure, liposuction is likely the right choice for you. Liposuction will remove the excess pounds and give you a figure that you can continue to maintain through a healthy diet and exercise.

Tummy tucks are great for people that want to remove a small amount of excess fat and suffer from sagging skin. Tummy tucks can also tighten loose abdominal muscles and give a more toned appearance.

Tummy tuck procedures are especially ideal for women who are aging and have lost elasticity in their skin. It may also be helpful for mothers who have seen changes in their abdomen after the weight fluctuations caused by pregnancy.

The Price

The three procedures vary greatly in price, depending on where you have them performed. In a high-demand city like Beverly Hills, liposuction can cost around $8,000, depending on how many areas are worked on. Tummy tucks can cost anywhere between $7,000 and $50,000.

The CoolSculpting price in Beverly Hills is about $1,500 per session. Depending on how many sessions an individual needs to achieve the desired result, this cost can really add up over time. It is also extremely important to note that if you choose to have plastic surgery after having CoolSculpting done, the cost of your surgery may be higher since revising CoolSculpting results makes surgery significantly more complex.

Tummy Tucks, Liposuction, and CoolSculpting in Beverly Hills

If you are interested in reshaping your figure and looking better than ever, you can count on Dr. Cat Begovic to help you achieve your goals. Dr. Cat is a board-certified female cosmetic surgeon who performs a wide range of plastic surgical procedures, from labiaplasty to breast augmentation. Dr. Cat has developed specialized techniques for both liposuction and tummy tucks that give lasting, beautiful results. She is known for making her results so natural-looking, you can’t tell her patients ever had surgery done!

Dr. Cat does not perform CoolSculpting in Beverly Hills, as she does not recommend this procedure. She does perform CoolSculpting revisions for patients who have had bad outcomes from their previous CoolSculpting treatments. Although these cases have been some of the most difficult surgeries she has performed, Dr. Cat feels grateful that she is able to help so many patients look and feel better.

See before and after photos of patients who have done liposuction and book your consultation with Dr. Cat today and start your plastic surgery journey.