Which Is Better, Liposuction or CoolSculpting®?

CoolSculpting before and after woman's abdomen side view

“Which is better? Liposuction? CoolSculpting?” At my Naples practice near Fort Myers, FL, this is by far one of the most common questions I hear from patients who want to smooth their curves and tone up. Most of the time, they’ve done some research and learned that these treatments are 2 of the most popular procedure options, but knowing which one will deliver the best results is where we step in. And while it would be easy to give one straight answer to that question, the truth is, it all depends.

Can you tell whether the pictures above are from a CoolSculpting or liposuction patient? Most people can’t—which is just one of the reasons it’s hard to choose between the two procedures.

Comparing the 2 procedures is like comparing apples and oranges. They have a few similarities but are ultimately very different. And, like apples and oranges, choosing between the procedures truly comes down to personal preference and what works for each individual patient. Here are a few of the most important points to consider:

Surgical vs. Nonsurgical

This difference is a “make it or break it” for many patients who are apprehensive about undergoing a surgical procedure, which is why it’s the first on my list. Liposuction is a surgical procedure, and while the equipment I use provides a fast treatment and often requires only local anesthesia, you’ll still receive a few small incisions where the liposuction cannula is used. CoolSculpting, on the other hand, is nonsurgical and entirely noninvasive, so no incisions or anesthesia are required. Learn more about what to expect before, during, and after CoolSculpting in our related blog post.


How much does CoolSculpting cost versus liposuction? As with most cosmetic procedures, the price will vary depending on the areas of the body being treated. There are many instances where the cost is pretty similar for both CoolSculpting and liposuction. Most patients get the results they want with a single, more expensive liposuction treatment, while CoolSculpting may require 3 treatments to achieve similar results. This depends on the area being treated and the goals of the patient, but you get the idea. In the end, the prices are very similar.


Because they’re nonsurgical and noninvasive, CoolSculpting treatments have little to no downtime. Most patients return to their daily routine — work, housework, gym, caring for family — immediately after their treatment. You will be sore for about 3 days after, but it will feel more like the effects of an intense workout.

After liposuction, patients need 1 to 3 days of downtime. The first few days after the procedure should be spent relaxing and not moving around much more than walking around the house. A compression garment should be worn for about 2 weeks after treatment. Swelling will linger for about 3 weeks after the procedure, but will not be very noticeable.


Ah, yes, this is arguably the most important question: How long until you see results from CoolSculpting? Results will begin to reveal themselves between 6 and 8 weeks after the initial treatment. If follow-up treatments are applied, final results will appear after about 6 months. The fat that has been frozen isn’t removed by the body immediately, but is eliminated gradually over a period of time.

How long until you see results of liposuction? Some patients notice the difference immediately, but for most patients, final results show after about 3 weeks — once swelling subsides in the treatment area.

Now, don’t forget about the quality of those results. CoolSculpting is great for defining larger areas, such as the lower abdomen and love handles. But patients who desire a certain aesthetic or contour should choose liposuction, as the surgeon will be able to create more precise final results.

I’ll let you be the judge. Check out these before-and-after photos of some of my patients and tell me what you think!

This patient received Smartlipo liposuction:

male's stomach before and after smartlipo liposuction

While this patient received CoolSculpting:

woman's stomach before and after coolsculpting

Who makes a good candidate for CoolSculpting vs. liposuction?

While the factors listed above will have some influence on a patient’s candidacy for treatment, many people who are healthy, active individuals with realistic goals will be candidates for these procedures. Instead, let’s talk about some situations that would cause an individual to not be a good candidate:

Planning to become pregnant soon: Pregnancy can cause weight gain, stretched skin, and fluctuations in the distribution of fat around a person’s body. Because of these changes, the results of your procedure may not be optimal after giving birth. You may find that a CoolSculpting or liposuction treatment is a great way to reward yourself after all of your hard work as a mother, sometime in the future!

The patient below is a good example of a mother who received a combination of tummy tuck and liposuction to restore the muscles and appearance of her lower abdomen.

woman's stomach before and after lipo and tummy tuck procedure

In the process of losing weight: If you’re still in the process of losing weight, I suggest you hold off undergoing CoolSculpting or liposuction. Wait until you’re closer to your target weight and your body has found a happy, healthy balance. Receiving the treatment too early in this process could inhibit your results and mean that you have to return for more treatments in the future.

Have sagging skin in the treatment area: If you’ve recently lost a significant amount of weight, been pregnant, or have common signs of aging that have created sagging, stretched skin, liposuction and CoolSculpting may not be the right procedures for you. These treatments reduce the amount of fat in the treated area, but only tighten and tone skin slightly. If you’re looking to tighten excess skin, whether in your abdomen, inner thighs, or under your arms, a body lift or tummy tuck may be a better option.

So, which is really better — CoolSculpting or liposuction? I think that decision is ultimately up to the patient, their goals, and the treatment, downtime, and cost that they’re comfortable with. Because every patient is so unique, I can’t make that decision without discussing all of these factors together and in person. At that point we’ll be able to make the decision about which treatment is better for you.

Whether you are looking for experienced plastic surgeons in the Fort Myers area to discuss your body contouring options or you’re ready to get started on CoolSculpting at our med spa in Naples, use our online form to request a consultation. You can also call us at (239) 262-5662 to schedule an appointment.

2 Responses to Which Is Better, Liposuction or CoolSculpting®?

  • NAOMI P. says:

    CoolSculpting is of interest to me regarding the abdominal area. I have had 3 children, height 5’7″, weight 132, small bone structure and an active 82 years of age. I am not a candidate for liposuction as I have a blood disorder that causes clots. Would I possibly be a candidate for CoolSculpting to reduce the amount of collected FAT in the abdominal area. I do Pilates and walk. Lastly I wear a size 6 and moved to Estero after living in Naples for five years.

    • Dr. Kent Hasen says:

      Thank you for your comment. The best way to determine if you are a candidate for CoolSculpting is to be seen for a complimentary consultation. Please feel free to contact our office at 239-262-5662, and our patient concierge can arrange for a consultation at your convenience. We look forward to meeting you soon!

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