CoolSculpting Vs. SmartLipo

Body contouring procedures have advanced rapidly over the last few years and today we are fortunate to have many surgical and non-surgical options that provide effective results. CoolSculpting and SmartLipo are two of the most popular body contouring procedures.

Procedure Overview

CoolSculpting is a nonsurgical body contouring treatment that involves the freezing of fat cells. The frozen fat cells dissolve and are eliminated from the body naturally. The procedure is performed with a vacuuming device that sucks the target fat area in between two cooling panels. The device then proceeds to cool the area to a point slightly above freezing. This process literally freezes the fat cells while all the other skin cells remain healthy and unharmed.

SmartLipo is a minimally invasive surgical procedure wherein a laser is used to break up the targeted fat cells. A very small cannula or tube containing a tiny laser fiber is inserted into the skin. This laser fiber directs energy to the unwanted fat cells, resulting in cell rupture and breakup. We use the most advanced form of SmartLipo, the Triplex, has three wavelengths. This allows the physician the ability to customize the procedure to the patient’s individual needs. The unwanted fat is removed by a small cannula attached to a suction device.

An added benefit of SmartLipo that is not attained with CoolSculpting is skin tightening. The heat from the laser stimulates new collagen production in the affected area and tissues become firmer and more supported.

Ideal Candidates

Coolsculpting: Men and women who are close to their ideal weight and have isolated fat areas or trouble spots like love handles, back fat, and bra rolls are ideal candidates for CoolSculpting.

SmartLipo: This procedure is ideal for individuals who need targeted parts of their body reshaped. The most common areas treated are the abdomen, waist, buttocks, and thighs. Smaller areas, such as the arms or chin, can also be treated.


Both treatments successfully remove fat from targeted areas; however, SmartLipo has the added benefit of being more thorough and customizable. Results from either treatment take 3 to 4 months, while CoolSculpting typically requires multiple treatments.


CoolSculpting is ideal in that it requires no recovery time. Some of our patients get their treatments done during their lunch break and go right back to work afterwards. Full recovery for SmartLipo can take a week or longer, although most patients can return to normal activities that do not include heavy lifting within 2-3 days of the procedure.


As with all cosmetic surgery procedures, costs can vary significantly by region and practice. The nationwide average cost for SmartLipo is around $5,000 while CoolScuplting comes in at $1,575 per treatment. However, people considering CoolSculpting should take into account that they may need multiple treatments (usually 3-4) to achieve their desired results.


CoolSculpting has very minor risks including bruising, redness, and temporary numbness of the treatment area. These symptoms dissipate a few days after treatment. SmartLipo is a minimally invasive surgery, so as with any surgical procedure, there are risks including bruising, swelling, infection, scars, burns, and blisters.


When considering the best procedure for body contouring, consider your individual situation, your body type and your goals. Work with a licensed and board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon that has ample experience with both procedures. He or she will be able to help you select the right treatment that will offer the best result.

About the Author:

Gregory Nikolaidis, MD, is a board certified dermatologist at Austin-based Westlake Dermatology. Dr. Nikolaidis was one of the first cosmetic surgeons in the United States to offer SmartLipo body contouring.

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