A Look at CoolSculpting and Liposuction in Santa Barbara

leg-liposuction-santa-barbaraWe are certainly enjoying beautiful Spring weather in Santa Barbara, California, even though we should be in the middle of winter. With beach or pool outings on the mind, this is one of the most popular times for people to inquire about sculpting their body for the upcoming summer and beyond.
The idea of wearing swim suits, shorts, and skirts, brings many people into my office who are interested in losing inches around their thighs. As a Santa Barbara plastic surgeon, I know that outer and inner thigh fat can be the most stubborn fat on a person’s body. I have seen people who exercise regularly, have a healthy diet, and maintain a normal weight, and still are unable to shed the fat on their inner thighs and/or their outer thigh/hip area (often referred to as “saddlebags”). I recommend Liposuction to improve the contours of the legs (and arms, torso and/or breasts).Recently, I have noticed people inquiring about CoolSculpting – a non-surgical treatment to remove unwanted fat – that is being advertised in town. In light of this, I will share with you information about CoolSculpting and Liposuction.

What is CoolSculpting?
The biggest “draw” to CoolSculpting is that it is done without surgery or downtime for recovery. As the name implies, the procedure freezes fat cells that are resistant to diet and exercise. The cold that the cells are subjected to causes an “injury” to the fat cells and encourages apoptosis – death of the cells. As the cells die – which happens over a period of weeks – they are eliminated from the body. People experience tugging, pinching, pulling, and numbness. Following the treatment, as the cells die, there may be more numbness, swelling, bruising, stinging, or pain.

The optimum result is a 20% reduction. Keep in mind that this is not a guarantee. More than 1 treatment may be necessary to see the full 20% reduction and the results may not be seen for 2 to 3 months.

What is Liposuction?
Almost everyone is familiar with Liposuction. It is a surgical procedure that removes excess fat deposits from “problem” areas on the body. If necessary, skin removal can be done during the procedure to remove excess skin that is too loose.

Liposuction is not what it used to be in the “old” days. Many people are surprised to find out that they do not have to go under general anesthesia for the procedure. We use a combination of local anesthesia, oral and intravenous sedation that provides comfort and amnesia throughout the procedure.

Liposuction only needs to be done once and has guaranteed results to improve body contours and proportion dramatically. I feel it is important to stress that liposuction is not a weight loss procedure but instead it is used to improve body contours.

What procedure is right for you?
This depends on how much improvement you are looking for:

  • CoolSculpting may improve contours but the improvement may be minimal and not noticeable to other people.
  • Liposuction is only done once and will give you a dramatic result.
If you are interested in body contouring liposuction in Santa Barbara, I invite you to call my Cosmetic Surgery Center practice (805-563-0000) to schedule a consultation today. 


Liposuction, Vanquish, and CoolSculpting in Santa Barbara

Over more than three decades of my cosmetic surgery practice, I have found Spring and Summer to be a popular time for people to “renew” their appearance. In preparation for beach gatherings and pool parties, body contouring is often addressed. While liposuction is undoubtedly the most reliable and quickest way to improve contour issues on any part of the body, patients are hearing/seeing advertising about non-invasive fat reduction and I thought I would use this blog post to discuss the pros and cons of liposuction versus non-invasive techniques currently available.

Liposuction is a surgical procedure that is now most frequently done using oral and intravenous sedation plus local anesthesia (so patients don’t have any added risk with general anesthesia). The procedure permanently removes excess fat from beneath the skin to improve “problem” areas and if you have excess skin this can often be removed at the same time. Liposuction incisions are small (less than 1/4 inch) and placed in “hidden” locations. Pain is usually minor – often controlled with ibuprofen or Tylenol – and light activity can be resumed a few days after the procedure.

Non-invasive fat reduction has been around for a few years now and we know that it can work. For patients who do not want or cannot have surgery, several devices are currently available and others are on the horizon. Two technologies currently available are CoolSculpting (freezes fat cells) and Vanquish (heats fat cells). Both devices cause cell injury that leads to eventual death and elimination resulting in less fat volume. Non-invasive methods involve a series of treatments and the results are not as predictable or dramatic as liposuction but there is usually some noticeable contour improvement.

CoolSculpting (or cryolipolysis) uses a vacuum-like applicator with cooling plates that cools skin and destroys fat cells by freezing some of them. The frozen cells die and are “cleaned up” over the next 2 to 3 months. An “optimum” result is about a 20% reduction, so several treatments are usually needed to obtain the contouring goal.

Vanquish is a selective radio freqency treatment that targets the deeper subcutaneous fat and heats the cells to cause destruction. As with cryolipolysis, the cells are “cleaned up” over the next few weeks. Treatment time is much faster than with CoolSculpting. The percentage reduction is variable but at least 20% is common. A series of treatments is recommended. A side-effect “bonus” with radio frequency is that some degree of skin tightening is also seen.

The answer depends on the amount of improvement you are looking to achieve. If you want a more dramatic change, have a larger amount of fat, or want to do just 1 treatment and be done, then liposuction is probably the better choice. Those needing only small changes, or who cannot take any time off and don’t mind doing a series of treatments to achieve an end result, may do well with non-invasive options.


If you would like to discuss your concerns, contact my office (Cosmetic Surgery Center in Santa Barbara) to make a consultation appointment (805-563-0000). I look forward to bringing out the best in your appearance now or any other time of the year.