CoolSculpting® vs. SculpSure®: Which One’s Right for You?

Woman showing off the results possible from body contouring treatments

The number of nonsurgical body contouring options seems to expand every year. Men and women curious about how they can reduce fat without the downtime or cost of surgery have a lot of information to sift through. We even offer 2 alternatives to liposuction at our Palo Alto and San Jose-area locations, CoolSculpting and SculpSure, ensuring we can tailor the procedure for the specific needs of each patient.

Knowing which treatment is right for you can be confusing, and it’s something we discuss during the consultation. Because the names are similar, patients may not know the differences between them—or the many other nonsurgical body contouring procedures they’ve probably read about online.

In this blog post, I’ll explain the unique ways CoolSculpting and SculpSure work, discuss the reasons one treatment might be better suited for a patient, and point out why, in some cases, liposuction might actually be the best choice.

CoolSculpting vs. SculpSure: How Do They Work?

What’s the best way to reduce fat nonsurgically? Both CoolSculpting and SculpSure ultimately cause the destruction and removal of fat cells, but they use different types of energy to accomplish this goal.


CoolSculpting is considered a groundbreaking treatment because it was the first procedure cleared by the FDA to use precision cooling to “freeze” fat cells. This process, called cryolipolysis, works because fat cells are vulnerable to temperatures that aren’t cold enough to damage the skin or surrounding tissue. CoolSculpting applicators designed to fit specific areas of the body deliver the cooling energy during a relatively comfortable treatment.


This treatment, which is also FDA-cleared, uses heat instead of cold to melt fat cells. The advanced laser technology harmlessly penetrates the skin and targets specific fatty areas. SculpSure applicators are different than CoolSculpting because they are placed flat on the treatment areas instead of using suction to pull the bulge between cooling plates. In both cases, the temperature is carefully controlled to minimize any unwanted side effects.

Which Is Right for You?

Clinical studies show CoolSculpting and SculpSure produce similar outcomes based on their percentage of fat reduction. In both treatments, the body’s lymphatic system processes the dead fat cells and removes them as waste. This gradual process takes about 2 to 4 months, meaning patients see the results within a few months. The results of both procedures last a long time if patients maintain healthy lifestyles.

For many men and women, choosing one treatment over the other comes down to personal preference. The average cost of both treatments, according to the RealSelf website, is very similar. Some of the differences that might influence your choice include:

Track record: CoolSculpting has been around for many more years than SculpSure and is considered a very safe and effective treatment. SculpSure’s safety is excellent, as well, so the choice again comes down to whether CoolSculpting’s earlier market approval is important to you.

Treatment experience: Both are non-invasive treatments, so there are no incisions or downtime. CoolSculpting patients experience some discomfort during the initial few minutes of the procedure as the cooling creates a tingling sensation. The suction can also be uncomfortable compared to SculpSure’s flat panels. Additionally, a SculpSure treatment requires less time.

The bottom line is that both procedures produce excellent results. But here’s something to consider: Neither can match the results produced by liposuction, as you can see in our gallery of before-and-after photos featuring some of our actual patients.

Ready to target stubborn pockets of fat and discuss nonsurgical options versus liposuction? If you’re looking for a board-certified plastic surgeon in Palo Alto, San Jose, or surrounding communities, contact us using the online form to request a consultation. Or call us at (650) 325-1118 (Palo Alto), or (408) 371-1118 (Campbell) to schedule an appointment.

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