CoolSculpting vs. Tummy Tuck – Which is Better?

For those of you interested in attaining that sleek, toned look, you have a few options. Diet and exercise are essential for reducing fat throughout your body, but they cannot target a specific area. This page explores the difference between CoolSculpting and the standard tummy tuck procedure plastic surgeons use to craft a trim, toned physique. After reviewing the pros and cons of each, you’ll be able to make your own decision as to which is right for you.

What is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is a non-invasive, non-surgical outpatient procedure for fat reduction and body contouring. It utilizes a patented technology to remove fat cells in targeted locations by freezing them. CoolSculpting boasts the support of over 100 peer-reviewed articles attesting to its viability as a safe and effective technique, and over 8 million procedures have been performed worldwide as of this date. 

Because CoolSculpting is non-invasive, patients require no anesthesia or pain killers. There is almost no downtime needed for recovery, and patients can even return to work the same day. People choose this procedure because they have stubborn unwanted fat in certain areas of the body that they want to get rid of. CoolSculpting provides a way for those individuals to achieve their desired look by eliminating the fat they cannot get rid of by dieting and exercise.

What is a “Tummy Tuck”?

An abdominoplasty, or “Tummy Tuck,” is a surgical procedure in which the surgeon removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen, producing a more sleek, defined look. The surgeon makes a horizontal incision across the front of the abdomen, between the belly button and the pubic region. The height of this incision will vary based upon the amount of skin the patient wishes to remove. The surgeon then removes excess belly fat, and uses sutures to tighten the abdominal muscles and connective tissue where necessary. The skin is then pulled down like a shade to cover the area, and sutured to the skin along the hip line and pubic region. The belly button is removed and sutured into its new location. 

People get a tummy tuck for a variety of reasons. Some people lose a significant amount of weight, and have skin that is loose or stretched too thin. Some women have abdominal skin or muscles that were stretched or damaged by pregnancy, or by having a C-section or other abdominal surgery. Some choose the procedure to combat the loss of skin tone that occurs when we age. Others choose it to address certain characteristics that they were born with.

Candidates interested in getting a tummy tuck might want to avoid the procedure if they:

  • May become pregnant later
  • Plan to lose a lot of weight
  • Have a severe chronic medical condition
  • Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Previously had abdominal surgery that left some scar tissue

What Can an Abdominoplasty Do that CoolSculpting Cannot Do?

When you have surgery, your surgeon has direct access to the tissues below the skin. While access is limited to the abdominal region, your surgeon can see the fat you want to remove, and remove it directly. A surgeon can also use sutures to repair muscles that have been damaged or strained. CoolSculpting cannot repair damaged muscle. It also cannot tighten up loose skin, whether that looseness is due to weight loss, pregnancy, or anything else.

A few other benefits of getting an abdominoplasty include:

  • Improved overall appearance, self-image, and self-esteem
  • A stronger core
  • It can reduce the chance of developing certain medical conditions associated with carrying too much weight
  • It can prevent a ventral hernia
  • It can reduce urinary incontinence in some patients

What are the Risks of Getting an Abdominoplasty? Does CoolSculpting Have the Same Risks?

There are many potential complications when getting a tummy tuck. Virtually none of these risks apply to CoolSculpting patients. Here are some of them:


A tummy tuck requires a number of cuts in the skin, which require sutures to close. It also means surgical removal and reinstallation of the belly button, which again requires sutures. For many, the aesthetic benefits of having less fat around the waist is outweighed by scars, which never go away.

Blood Clots

As with any surgery, there is a chance that blood clots will form and travel to a location where they can cause serious damage (e.g. the lungs or brain). The risk is greater for those who suffer from certain medical conditions, or for those on certain medications. If you have poor circulation, or a history of blood clots, this concern carries particular significance.

Recovery Issues

In addition to blood clots, there are other potential problems when recovering from surgery. Internal bleeding and bruising can take some time to heal, and with the cutting and suturing comes pain or soreness, swelling, fatigue, and tiredness. Your doctor can prescribe medication to treat the pain, but pain medications can cause undesirable side effects, and are often addictive. In addition, if the body fails to heal properly, you may experience severe scarring or a loss of skin, which will require a second procedure.

What are the Advantages of CoolSculpting over an Abdominoplasty?

The advantages of CoolSculpting over a tummy tuck procedure are also its selling points. We list them here again to compare CoolSculpting with the abdominoplasty.

A Milder Recovery

Because CoolSculpting is not surgery, and is non-invasive, you will not experience any of the significant problems that occur with surgery. You will not have to worry about blood clots, bleeding, or the pain, soreness, or fatigue. You will not miss time from work.

You may experience some pain at the site of the procedure, but it will be far less when compared with surgery. This pain generally lasts 3-11 days and goes away on its own. Swelling, bruising, redness, or skin sensitivity are also common side effects that can arise as a result of exposure to cold. These side effects go away after a few weeks.

No Scarring

When the body is done flushing the dead fat cells from your system, not only will you have a slim, toned look, you will have the same skin as before, with no scars. Your belly button will be in the same place it was before. 

Superior Fat Targeting

With an abdominoplasty, the physician is limited as to what fat he or she can access, and see. If the surgeon wants to remove more fat, they have to roll back more skin, or dig under more tissue. With CoolSculpting, the right applicator will be able to target fat beneath the skin, even in locations that are difficult to access via surgery. You can remove all of the fat in a certain region, without the precision required during surgery. 

Keep in mind, patients interested in CoolSculpting get a consultation that allows them to explore fat removal in several locations of the body, rather than just the abdomen. The patient and provider can come up with a plan that combines these various treatments into one procedure, which enables the patient to get much more value for their visit. When opting for surgery, the patient needs a separate procedure for each location of the body where he or she seeks fat removal. 

Disadvantages of CoolSculpting

Patients should not consider CoolSculpting at all if they suffer from one of these three rare medical conditions:

  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Cold Agglutinin Disease
  • Paroxysmal Cold Hemoglobulinuria

Conclusion: CoolSculpting Replaces Surgery for Most People

CoolSculpting doesn’t replace the tummy tuck for everyone. But for many, it is a superior procedure. Even if you can get through a surgical procedure without significant complications or recovery issues, the end product just doesn’t look as good. Surgery leaves scars, and the final presentation just doesn’t look natural. 

CoolSculpting doesn’t solve the problem of loose skin, nor can it repair damaged core muscles. But there are other ways of addressing these issues. CoolSculpting also can’t offer permanent weight loss through fat removal. Then again, an abdominoplasty can’t promise that either.

Reach Out to PeakBody CoolSculpting

If you have further questions or concerns about the CoolSculpting procedure, give our office a call. We would be happy to sit with you and talk about the many benefits of this revolutionary procedure. We look forward to helping you on your journey to discovering the body you’ve always wanted.