Coolsculpting® vs. Emsculpt® – What’s Best for You?

Coolsculpting® vs. Emsculpt® – What’s Best for You

When it comes to procedures that improve your shape, it’s not hard to see why non-invasive body contouring treatments have generated so much buzz. Done at your doctor’s office with no needles or scalpels, these procedures help you target stubborn areas of fat on your body, just like liposuction or other forms of mild cosmetic surgery – with little, if any, downtime. Two of these treatments are especially popular: CoolSculpting® and Emsculpt®. Both use non-invasive techniques, but the way each works is very different. Want the scoop on sculpting? We’ve got it right here.

What Is CoolSculpting?

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010, CoolSculpting is the brand name for cryolipolysis. You’ve heard of burning fat – but CoolSculpting works in the opposite direction. It uses cold temperatures to freeze fat cells in your body. Since fat freezes at a higher temperature than skin, CoolSculpting can be done without damaging your skin (as would happen if you got frostbite). After the cold destroys the fat cells, your body sheds them over the next few weeks, leaving you with a more contoured figure.

What Body Parts Can Be Treated with CoolSculpting?

Spot reduction is the name of the game with CoolSculpting, rather than all-over fat loss. It’s often used in areas that tend to accumulate fat, including:

  • Thighs
  • Bra line
  • Back and sides
  • Chin and jawline
  • Under the butt

What Can I Expect with a CoolSculpting Treatment?

First, you’ll discuss your goals with your dermatologist, including the look you want to achieve and the results you can expect. When you’ve worked together to develop the treatment plan, an applicator that looks much like a vacuum attachment will be applied to your targeted areas. The area will quickly become cold (most people go numb within a few minutes). While the machine works, you’ll relax over 30 to 60 minutes (or catch up on your Netflix shows!). Then, your doctor massages the cooled fat for a few minutes before sending you off to enjoy the rest of the day.

Most people find CoolSculpting uncomfortable but not painful; you’ll probably feel some tugging, but nothing that’ll make you want to jump out of the chair. Some say the massage is the most painful part of the procedure (since the fat has turned ice-cube-like by the end!). You may have bruising, swelling, or numbness for a few days. Then, over the next few weeks, you should see the targeted area shrink by around 10 to 25 percent. Sometimes, repeated treatments are necessary for optimum results.

Are There Any Risks with CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is a safe procedure for most, and the chances of side effects are low. A small percentage of people develop paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), which causes the targeted area to get bigger instead of smaller. It typically occurs in less than 1 percent of patients, and the changes can be permanent. Bottom line: You’ll likely be fine but proceed cautiously.

Some health conditions can also make CoolSculpting a less-than-ideal choice. These include loose skin, obesity, cold urticaria (a tendency to get hives when it’s cold), and cryoglobulinemia (a condition that causes proteins in your blood to thicken when cold). Before getting CoolSculpting, discuss your health history with your doctor to ensure it’s the right choice.

What is Emsculpt?

Like CoolSculpting, Emsculpt has been approved by the FDA, albeit for a shorter period (since 2017). Instead of using freezing temperatures, Emsculpt uses electromagnetic stimulation to cause muscle contractions in a problem area. In a typical session, the muscles in the targeted area will contract 20,000 times – far more than you could ever do with exercise. While CoolSculpting essentially targets fat, Emsculpt focuses more on muscles. Over time and with repeated treatments, you should see your targeted areas firm up. (There is some fat loss, but it’s minimal.)

A newer product, Emsculpt Neo®, combines electromagnetic pulses with radiofrequency heating to target fat more than regular Emsculpt. Your body will metabolize and eliminate the heated fat over the weeks following the treatment.

What Body Parts Can Be Treated with Emsculpt?

Emsculpt and Emsculpt Neo can be used to treat the following:

  • Butt
  • Thighs
  • Calves
  • Arms
  • Abdomen

What Can I Expect with an Emsculpt or Emsculpt Neo treatment?

The exact techniques used for treatment will vary, depending on the body part you’re working on, your current muscle tone, and your desired look. However, it generally follows this: You recline in a chair or table, and paddles are applied to the target area. At first, your dermatologist will start on a low setting to help you get used to the sensations, which most patients say feel like pulling or vibrating rather than pain. As the Emsculpt machine cycles through its phases, you may feel light, quick muscle contractions or deep, slow ones. If you’re getting Emsculpt Neo, you’ll also feel some heat.

When the session (usually a half hour) is over, you can resume regular activities. You may feel muscle soreness as if you’ve done a challenging workout. Your doctor may advise you to return in a few weeks for a repeat session to see optimum results.

Are There Any Risks with Emsculpt or Emsculpt Neo?

After your treatment, you may feel soreness in the targeted area or even some muscle weakness. Some people also experience bruising and swelling. But do not worry – these effects should dissipate within a few days. If they’re uncomfortable, a few days of rest and some ice packs can help.

If you have any of the following conditions, you should not get Emsculpt or Emsculpt Neo:

  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • Medical implants anywhere in the body (such as pacemakers, metal IUDs, defibrillators, and drug pumps)
  • Pregnancy or nursing
  • History of cancer, especially cancer in the targeted body area
  • Recent surgery

If you’re concerned that a particular health condition may affect your ability to get Emsculpt, discuss it with your doctor before treatment.

Ultimately CoolSculpting and Emsculpt are very effective in toning the body and helping you find the shape you like. Choosing between the two requires a consultation with a knowledgeable dermatologist like ours at North Atlanta Dermatology, who can guide you toward the best body contouring options for your goals.

Our Locations

North Atlanta Dermatology has five locations around Northern Atlanta to serve you.

Duluth Office

3850 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, Georgia 30096

Suwanee Office

3370 Paddocks Pkwy.
Suwanee, GA 30024

Hamilton Office

3331 Hamilton Mill, Suite 1106
Buford, GA 30519

Cumming Office

1230 Bald Ridge Marina Rd., Suite 300
Cumming, GA 30041

Marietta Office

1519 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 175
Marietta, GA 30062