Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Liposuction



Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Liposuction

For many cosmetic surgery patients, areas of unwanted localized fat are a common concern. These areas of fat are usually diet and exercise resistant and can come in the form of a stubborn stomach “pooch” after pregnancy and giving birth, or areas around the thighs and back that refuse to disappear, localized areas of fat can be difficult to eliminate with regular diet and exercise.

Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Liposuction

Consequently, liposuction has increasingly become one of the most popular and top-performed cosmetic surgical procedures– and for good reason! This operation redefines your natural body contours by safely, effectively, and permanently reducing the fat in areas of concern.

Recently, minimally invasive liposuction alternatives have come to the forefront of body contouring procedures and are gaining popularity. These minimally invasive treatments usually don’t require any incisions or anesthesia, and also come with less downtime, meaning patients will not need to take as much time off from work.

This blog will detail the differences between both fat reduction techniques and which may be the best option for you.

What Is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a surgical fat removal procedure that became popular in the 1980s. This procedure involves the removal of excess fat through a small tube called a cannula. As the surgeon moves the cannula through the fat deposit, suction is applied to remove the localized fat cells to sculpt a slimmer body contour.

In particular, liposuction is effective for the removal of fat in the abdomen, legs, arms, back, face, and neck. It provides excellent results in comparison to other non-invasive fat reduction techniques, however, has a longer recovery period and usually costs more than non-surgical alternatives.

Non-Invasive Fat Removal with CoolSculpting

Non-surgical fat reduction procedures, such as CoolSculpting, targets and eliminates unwanted fat cells through a topical rather than a surgical procedure. CoolSculpting is ideal for patients who are close to or at their ideal weight but want to reduce smaller localized areas of fat on the abdomen, thighs, or hips.

CoolSculpting uses a revolutionary device that freezes unwanted fat cells to the point of death without affecting surrounding tissue in a process called cryolipolysis. Once the fat cells die, they are naturally eliminated by the body in the weeks and months following the procedure. The final results are usually revealed after three months, the approximate time it takes for the body to eliminate the fat cells.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Liposuction and CoolSculpting

Before deciding whether surgical liposuction or non-invasive body contouring procedures are right for you, it is important to consider the pros and cons of each.

Degree of Invasiveness

Liposuction is a more invasive method of fat removal as it involves incisions. During the recovery period, patients will experience soreness, swelling, and bruising for up to 10 days following their surgery. On the other hand, CoolSculpting treatments are completely non-invasive and patients will experience minimal discomfort during and after their treatment session.


The results from a liposuction operation are visible once the swelling has disappeared and the treated area heals, which can take up to 6 months. It can take longer to see results from CoolSculpting treatments, which continue to improve within the weeks and months after the procedure. It is important to remember that liposuction nor CoolSculpting are replacements for weight loss, although liposuction offers longer-lasting and more dramatic results as well as some skin shrinkage.


After liposuction, patients will be required to refrain from their day to day activities for several days and weeks after their procedure and will need to be careful when re-engaging in exercise. On the other hand, CoolSculpting will not involve extensive healing periods and patients are able to return to their regular activities immediately, although they can expect some swelling and soreness. Although your results will be more subtle if you choose the non-surgical fat reduction route, you will be able to return to your regular activities and get back to your life much sooner.

Which Option Is Best For Me?

You may want to consider liposuction if you have larger deposits of fat that you would like to reduce. It can also work to re-shape and improve your body contours in several areas at once. Some points to consider include the higher price tag and greater risk of potential complications that may arise, although the McLean Clinic team will take all necessary precautions to reduce your risk of health complications.

Non-surgical fat reduction techniques, such as CoolSculpting, may work better for you if you are already at or close to your ideal weight, have good skin tone and elasticity, and want to target smaller localized areas of fat. You will also be able to return to your normal activities almost immediately, however, the results will be more subtle and a series of treatments may be necessary.

The best way to determine between liposuction or CoolSculpting is to seek the advice of a trusted, board-certified surgeon. Here at McLean Clinic, we will take the ultimate time and care to discuss all your options with you to help you determine which procedure may work best for you.

January 30, 2019

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  • User - Mclean Clinic

    Posted on Jan 30 2019 By Kayla

    Thank you for this article, this was very helpful!

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