Cellfina vs CoolSculpting—Which Procedure Is Right for You?

Cellfina, CoolSculpting, Cellulaze, Kybella, Ultherapy…When it comes to nonsurgical treatment options for stubborn fat deposits and poor skin tone, we have more options available to us now than ever before. While this is a great thing—as these treatments allow us to improve our appearance without the risks of surgery—figuring out what each treatment does, exactly, can be challenging. In the guide below, we’ll help you understand the differences between two of the most popular nonsurgical treatments in use today, Cellfina and CoolSculpting.

What is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is a FDA-approved nonsurgical fat removal treatment. During CoolSculpting, a special applicator is applied to the patient’s skin. This applicator dramatically cools subcutaneous fat cells while keeping the skin comfortably warm. The cold damages the fat cells so much that the body is forced to excrete them via the lymphatic system and liver. This is a safe, natural process and you will not feel it occuring. As a result, treated areas become much slimmer and sleeker. Better still, smooth and even results are virtually guaranteed with CoolSculpting, unlike with liposuction where slight dimpling sometimes occurs after treatment. CoolSculpting is more versatile than other nonsurgical fat removal treatments. In addition to treating abdominal fat, CoolSculpting can target fat on the back, flanks, arms, thighs, and even under the chin. Ask your cosmetic surgeon about the areas he or she is willing to treat using CoolSculpting.

How Effective is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is highly effective at doing what it was designed to do: Remove small to medium-sized bulges of fat from the bodies of otherwise slim patients. Studies reveal that CoolSculpting typically removes 24% of the fat cells from treated areas. This may not sound like a lot, but it makes a big difference. CoolSculpting can easily take two or more inches off a person’s waist, for instance. The vast majority of patients who have CoolSculpting report being very satisfied with the results of this procedure.

What is Cellfina?

Cellfina is a FDA-approved minimally-invasive treatment for cellulite. During Cellfina, a precisely controlled subcision technique is used to release the fibrous bands below the skin that are responsible for creating cellulite. This is accomplished via the use of a special applicator, which draws in the skin and stretches these bands. It contains extremely fine needles that can divide the fibrous bands without causing the patient significant pain. This causes the bands to relax so that they no longer make the skin “pucker.” Each Cellfina appointment takes between half an hour to one hour, and most patients will only need one treatment. Recovery is easy, too: Because the incisions made during a Cellfina treatment are so tiny, you will not require stitches and you will not need to rest in bed after this treatment. Currently, Cellfina has been approved for use on the buttocks and on the back of the thighs. Some practitioners will, however, also treat the sides of the thighs.

How Effective is Cellfina?

According to a number of studies that have been conducted since Cellfina entered the market, Cellfina is hands-down the most effective cellulite treatment currently available. One study in particular, an FDA study that analyzed 55 Cellfina patients, found that an astounding 98% of patients were extremely satisfied with the results of Cellfina. Additionally, the Global Aesthetic Improvement Scale (GAIS) reported that the Cellfina patients they surveyed experienced a visible reduction in cellulite 100% of the time. Both of these studies were conducted fully two years after the patients had been treated, so this data suggests that Cellfina produces enduring positive results in the vast majority of patients. The only downside to Cellfina is its price. Cellfina is relatively costly (as far as minimally invasive procedures go) because the equipment needed to perform Cellfina is expensive and each treatment requires the use of an $800 consumable. You can therefore expect to pay between $3500 and $6500 for this treatment. For many women, the cost is well worth it, however. There is simply no better way to get rid of cellulite than Cellfina.

What Should You Have First, Cellfina or CoolSculpting?

If you have decided you need both CoolSculpting and Cellfina, the first question on your mind is probably which treatment you should get first. As is the case with most complementary procedures, having these treatments in the correct order can maximize your chances of achieving the perfect aesthetic outcome. Plastic surgeons usually recommend Cellfina after CoolSculpting, for the following reason: While cellulite is not caused by excess fat per se (hence why even very thin women sometimes have cellulite), fat can accentuate cellulite dimples. Fat pressing against the skin worsens the connective tissue problems that cause cellulite by placing additional stress on the fibrous septae (the small fibers of connective tissue that support the skin). As such, while getting rid of fat cells will not usually “cure” cellulite, doing so may make it less noticeable. Choosing CoolSculpting before a Cellfina treatment may therefore reduce the amount of cellulite treatment you need to get. Likewise, if you only have a small amount of cellulite, CoolSculpting may reduce your cellulite enough that you don’t feel you need any additional treatments. Most clinicians feel that combining CoolSculpting and Cellfina is superior to using treatments like Cellulaze. While it’s true that Cellulaze targets both fat deposits under the skin and cellulite, it’s less effective at treating cellulite than Cellfina. Moreover, because it relies on the use of extreme heat, it’s more likely to cause pain, swelling, bruising, and other complications than either CoolSculpting or Cellfina. CoolSculpting and Cellfina are therefore generally believed to be the safer and more effective choice. Cellulaze is, however, a better treatment for mild cellulite as it is more convenient and less costly than combined CoolSculpting and Cellfina.

Who Makes a Good Candidate for CoolSculpting and Cellfina?

Those who wish to have CoolSculpting followed by Cellfina should be a healthy weight and in good overall health. Like all body sculpting procedures, CoolSculpting is not meant to be a “weight loss” treatment. It cannot get rid of generalized excess body fat; instead, it’s meant to treat localized deposits of stubborn fat. If you’re within 25 pounds of your ideal weight but still have fat bulges on your back, stomach, thighs, chest, or chin, then CoolSculpting is probably right for you. Note that you must be able to pinch at least one inch of fat from the area or areas you want treated in order to have CoolSculpting. If the applicator cannot “suck in” your fat, it won’t be able to target fat cells effectively. Some people with especially dense fat must therefore have liposuction instead. Cellfina works best for patients who have moderate to severe cellulite. Those with only very mild “wavy” cellulite (i.e., those who lack distinct pits and dimples) may be able to get away with using less costly, less complex cellulite treatments. Make sure to have your cellulite examined by your cosmetic surgeon in order to determine what “grade” it is. If you have isolated dimples and depressions or clustered dimples and depressions, then you are likely to see amazing results from Cellfina. Cellfina is particularly good at eradicating this kind of cellulite. While Cellfina also works on severe cellulite (that is, diffuse “cottage cheese” cellulite that covers a large area), complete eradication may not be possible with a single treatment. If you have severe cellulite, talk to your cosmetic surgeon about having multiple Cellfina treatments or combining Cellfina with other complementary treatments. A more intensive treatment plan may be required to give you truly smooth skin, but achieving a satisfying result is usually possible. Finally, be aware that it is important to avoid taking over the counter pain relievers like aspirin for at least two weeks prior to having CoolSculpting or Cellfina. These medications are off limits because they may make patients more prone to bleeding during treatment (something which should not occur otherwise). Additionally, people with blood disorders or impaired immune systems should not have either CoolSculpting or Cellfina.

What to Expect after CoolSculpting

Most people who have CoolSculpting do not experience significant pain during treatment (though it’s normal to feel some tingling, numbness, and hot and cold sensations). Afterwards, however, it’s common to notice mild to moderate swelling in treated areas. This swelling should resolve on its own after about three weeks. About 10 percent of CoolSculpting patients also experience mild to moderate nerve pain and numbness after having this treatment, but this is also temporary and will go away in a few weeks. If it bothers you, we recommend taking an over the counter painkiller like Tylenol and avoiding strenuous activities until your symptoms abate. It’s important to be aware that the results of CoolSculpting are not immediate. Because it takes the body time to excrete all of the fat cells damaged by this treatment, you can expect to see the targeted fat deposits gradually shrink over the course of about two months. Once the fat cells are gone, however, they should be gone for life. The body is not capable of “regenerating” damaged fat cells. The only thing that could potentially compromise the results of your CoolSculpting treatment is extreme weight gain (as in, more than 30 pounds). Sometimes the body will create new fat cells if this happens. We therefore suggest working with a nutritionist to maintain the results of your treatment if you’ve struggled with your weight in the past.

What to Expect after Cellfina

Getting Cellfina is not usually painful as your cosmetic surgeon will numb the areas being treated with local anesthetic. Post-procedure pain is also uncommon. While you may notice a little bit of swelling, bruising, or redness after having Cellfina, you should not experience significant aching or burning. If you do experience any discomfort after this procedure, you can take Tylenol to manage it. You will also be given instructions on how to wear a compression garment (such as Spanx undergarments) in order to better support the areas that have been treated while they heal. According to studies and observations made by cosmetic professionals, about 90% of Cellfina patients return to their usual activities immediately after their appointment. It’s therefore fairly safe to assume that you will be able to go right back to work after having this treatment. To err on the side of caution, however, you may want to avoid scheduling any large social obligations on the same day as your appointment. You should also consider skipping the gym that day in order to minimize discomfort and skin irritation. The results of Cellfina are usually permanent. While some people will develop additional cellulite as they age, the vast majority of patients go on to enjoy a lifelong reduction in the appearance of pits and depressions. According to studies conducted by the FDA, 93% of Cellfina patients were still cellulite-free two years after treatment. After four years, 90% of patients reported that their cellulite still had not returned. Note that your Cellfina results should remain stable even if you gain weight, because weight gain will not compromise the corrections Cellfina has made to the fibrous bands below your skin.

The Final Verdict: Do You Need CoolSculpting, Cellfina, or Both?

In summation, we’ll recap what makes CoolSculpting and/or Cellfina a good choice:
  • If you have bulges of unwanted fat on your abdomen, back, thighs, arms, or chin, then you need CoolSculpting.
  • If you have moderate to severe cellulite on your buttocks and/or the back of your thighs, then you need Cellfina.
  • If you have both unwanted fat and cellulite, you should get CoolSculpting first, wait for the results to become fully apparent (which takes about two months), then book a Cellfina consultation.
Of course, only a consultation with a certified cosmetic professional can really tell you which of these procedures is right for you. If you’re curious about having CoolSculpting and/or Cellfina, feel free to contact us today. We’ll explain these treatments to you in more detail and assess whether or not they can help you achieve your aesthetic objectives.
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