Is DIY CoolSculpting at Home With Ice Packs Safe?
Not long ago, we had someone call our office and inquire about what “utensils” they might use to perform their own breast surgery. In my 10 years in practice as a board certified plastic surgeon, I’ve fielded a lot of interesting questions, but this one took the cake in terms of off-the-wall requests!
While most of us wouldn’t dream of a “DIY plastic surgery” operation, the recent boom in non-surgical treatments on the market—many of which have over-the-counter copycats (i.e., chemical peels)—have tempted the question “couldn’t I do the same thing cheaper at home?”
I have noticed growing curiosity about DIY CoolSculpting, especially since we began offering non-surgical fat reduction in our Fort Worth practice. Given the story behind the popular non-surgical fat reduction treatment, this is understandable: the Harvard scientists who developed CoolSculpting® got the idea to use targeted cold to destroy unwanted fat after earlier medical studies showed that children who ate a lot of popsicles had fat loss in their cheeks.
So, if all it takes is a popsicle to reduce fat, can you do CoolSculpting at home with ice packs? The answer is a resounding NO! There are numerous reasons why—the least of which is that if it were that easy, millions of us would have already made ice packs a part of our daily routine.
Here are key reasons why DIY “fat freezing” is a bad idea:
1) There’s a big difference between targeted, controlled cold with CoolSculpting® and “freezing” fat cells.
CoolSculpting is often said to “freeze” your fat away, but it actually only chills fat cells to the precise point at which they break down, which is several degrees above the freezing point. It then maintains that temperature for a specific, critical amount of time to effectively reduce fat without harming surrounding tissues.
You have no way of controlling for the temperature of fat cells with ice packs alone. Most likely, you’ll just feel miserably cold while the ice packs chill your skin, but do nothing to reduce underlying fat. If you were to literally freeze your fat cells—a dangerous possibility with DIY methods—you would also freeze your skin, nerves, and muscles, doing permanent harm to these important tissues.
2) Trying to freeze off fat yourself can do more harm than good.
While DIY CoolSculpting is ineffective at best, attempting to freeze your own fat is really dangerous! Leaving ice packs on the skin for long periods of time can cause permanent damage to the skin, blood vessels, and nerves and can even lead to necrosis, or tissue death. In other words, DIY CoolSculpting could easily turn into a case of DIY frostbite.
3) Only CoolSculpting® has the science to back it up.
In a search for fat reduction options, you are bound to come across blogs, videos, and product sites claiming to offer an effective at-home alternative to CoolSculpting. But no matter how knowledgeable that YouTube guru sounds or convincing the ads for “lipo-belts” seem, there is no scientific evidence that any of these DIY methods for fat reduction work.
CoolSculpting technology (cryolipolysis) has been perfected over many years of clinical trials and proven to work safely and effectively, and is the only FDA cleared option to use cryolipolysis.
4) Only “real” CoolSculpting® is uniquely designed to target the maximum amount of fat in an area.
CoolSculpting uses a special vacuum applicator that pulls your tissue closer to chilling plates, allowing the treatment to reach more fat cells, more quickly. An ice pack on your “problem area,” cannot mold to the unique contours of your body the way proprietary CoolSculpting applicators can. Their specialized shapes are also critical to providing attractively contoured results.
5) With CoolSculpting®, you have the advantage of an experienced provider to ensure a great result.
Even if DIY CoolSculpting did work (which it doesn’t!), attractive and symmetrical results depend on having a medical professional with aesthetic expertise—who is highly trained to know where to place the CoolSculpting applicators and for how long to administer treatment for optimal fat reduction. This is also a reason to avoid inexperienced or discount CoolSculpting providers—it’s better to pay a little more for proven, attractive results than to risk poor or inadequate results with a bargain provider.
Leave any professional treatment to the pros
Office-based medical and skincare treatments, cosmetic or otherwise, are performed in the office for a reason: it takes years of medical training, experience, and the proper equipment to perform non-surgical treatments safely and effectively. It’s also important to have a professional evaluate you and determine whether you are a good candidate for a given treatment.
If you’re looking for a safe, effective way to reduce stubborn fat, look to an experienced plastic surgeon’s office—not the freezer section. A board certified plastic surgeon not only can help you determine whether CoolSculpting will achieve your goals, or if an alternative, such as liposuction, is better suited to your needs, but they can also ensure that your procedure will be performed by a qualified provider.
At Kirby Plastic Surgery in Fort Worth, CoolSculpting is performed by board certified physician assistant and certified CoolSculpting Technician. During your personal consultation she’ll help you decide whether CoolSculpting is the right option for you. call or TEXT (817) 292-4200 or contact us now to get started.