CoolSculpting vs. Kybella, Vanquish, and Emsculpt thumbnail

CoolSculpting vs. Kybella, Vanquish, and Emsculpt

Posted on April 11, 2023 by Dr Elenora Fedoneko

In recent years, interest in non-surgical cosmetic procedures for fat reduction and body contouring has grown rapidly, as have the number of competing procedures. Among the most popular are CoolSculpting, Kybella, Vanquish, and Emsculpt. Each procedure has its unique benefits and drawbacks, depending on each patient’s individual requirements. This paper will explore the differences between these procedures, focusing on their basic mechanisms, effectiveness, and the patient experience.

CoolSculpting, Kybella, Vanquish, and Emsculpt Explained

One thing that all these procedures have in common – they’re ways to selectively remove fat from the body, while improving the body’s contours. And in all cases, fat cells, once removed from the body, will never be re-generated. However, none of these techniques are effective as weight-loss mechanisms; and if you want to maintain the results long-term, you’ll have to adopt a heathy lifestyle, including getting adequate exercise and eating a healthy diet.


CoolSculpting, also known as cryolipolysis, is a non-invasive fat reduction treatment that uses precisely controlled cooling to target and destroy fat cells. The technique relies on the fact that fat cells are more easily damaged by low temperatures than surrounding tissue. By selectively applying cold temperatures to the area being targeted, fat cells are selectively frozen and damaged without damaging surrounding tissue. Once the fat cells are killed, they are gradually eliminated from the body via the body’s lymphatic system.

CoolSculpting is FDA-cleared for treating several areas of the body, including the abdomen, flanks, inner and outer thighs, submental area (double chin), upper arms, and the area below the buttocks (banana roll).

CoolSculpting is a non-invasive procedure, which helps both to reduce discomfort during the procedure, and to reduce recovery time to the absolute minimum. Side effects can range from redness, swelling, bruising, or numbness, but these are all typically minor and of short duration.

CoolSculpting is not effective as a weight-loss treatment, but rather as a body contouring procedure that is able to target specific fat deposits that may have proven resistant to dieting or exercise.

Results start to develop in the weeks following treatment, and normally continue over the course of several months. Multiple treatments may be required, depending on the patient’s expectations. Each CoolSculpting sessions typically takes from 35 to 60 minutes.


Kybella is a minimally invasive treatment that uses injections to reduce double chins. The active ingredient in Kybella is deoxycholic acid, the same acid the body uses to help digest dietary fat. When injected into fat deposits beneath the chin, Kybella is able to kill off fat cells. As these cells are gradually eliminated from the body, the jawline becomes more defined and contoured.

Kybella is an FDA-approved treatment, but is restricted to use in the area under the chin and jawline.

Individual Kybella treatments typically take between 15 and 20 minutes. Multiple treatments may be required to achieve desired results, spaced four to six weeks apart; two treatments are commonly needed.

The number of Kybella treatments needed to achieve the desired results varies from patient to patient. Two treatment sessions are typically needed, but some individuals may require up to six treatments for optimal results. Once the fat cells are destroyed, they do not regenerate, meaning that the results of Kybella treatment are typically long-lasting.

As with other injectable treatments, there side effects can include redness, bruising, swelling, numbness, or pain. It’s also possible to develop areas of hardness near the treated area. Side effects are typically short-lived, and should disappear in the days or weeks following treatment.


Vanquish is a non-invasive body contouring treatment that uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to heat and destroy targeted fat cells. The heat generated by the Vanquish device causes fat cells to break down, after which they’re removed from the body naturally. Vanquish is commonly used to treat larger parts of the body, like the abdomen, flanks, and thighs.

One of the main advantages of Vanquish is its ability to treat larger areas than other non-invasive fat reduction treatments. The heating device hovers over the skin without making direct contact, allowing for a more comfortable treatment experience.

Individual Vanquish treatments typically take between 45 minutes to an hour. Vanquish typically requires a series of treatment sessions, usually spaced a week apart, to achieve desired results. The number of sessions needed will depend on the individual patient’s goals and the area being treated. Results may start to become noticeable within a few weeks after treatment, with continued improvement over the next few months as the body naturally eliminates the destroyed fat cells.

Vanquish has minimal side effects, ranging from redness, swelling, or mild discomfort. These side effects typically subside within a few hours to a couple of days.


Emsculpt is an unusual non-invasive body contouring treatment that not only targets fat reduction but also focuses on muscle building and toning. The device uses high-intensity focused electromagnetic (HIFEM) technology to stimulate muscle contractions, which helps simultaneously to build muscle fibers and burn fat. Emsculpt is FDA approved for use on the abdomen and buttocks; it may also be used on the arms and thighs.

Emsculpt can help achieve a more toned and sculpted appearance, in addition to reducing fat. The HIFEM energy causes individual muscles to contract up to 20,000 times in a single 30-minute session, equivalent to the effect of a high intensity workout. Emsculpt can be a great option for individuals looking to enhance their existing workout routines.

Emsculpt is generally comfortable and pain free, requiring no recovery time. It is common to experience muscle soreness after treatment, as you would expect following an equivalent workout.

Individual Emsculpt treatments take around 30 minutes; typically, several sessions are required to achieve optimal results, spaced a few days apart. Improvements to muscle tone and fat reduction typically start to become apparent in the weeks following treatment.

In addition to toning muscles and reducing fat, Emsculpt can provide other benefits, such as reducing back pain. The HIFEM pulses help to strengthen core muscles which support the spine, providing benefits beyond the immediate area being treated.

CoolSculpting vs. Kybella

Directly compared, CoolSculpting and Kybella are both effective at reducing fat beneath the chin and jawline. CoolSculpting can be used to target many more body areas than Kybella, and is also easier to apply to larger areas. Both procedures use different mechanisms to destroy fat cells, but both rely on the same body mechanisms to absorb and eliminate these cells over time.

CoolSculpting is a non-invasive, FDA-approved treatment that utilizes controlled cooling technology to freeze and damage fat cells, while Kybella in a minimally invasive technique that relies on injecting a natural acid that achieves a similar result by breaking down adjacent fat cells.

As a minimally invasive technique, Kybella may result in somewhat more side-effects after treatment, but recovery from either procedure should be rapid. Kybella may be associated with temporary swelling or bruising at the injection site, while CoolSculpting can cause temporary numbness and redness in the treated area.

CoolSculpting vs. Vanquish

While CoolSculpting uses cold to damage fat cells, Vanquish relies on heat to accomplish the same result.

Vanquish is considered more effective when used to treat larger areas; CoolSculpting may be more precise when used to target smaller localized fat deposits.

Side effects from either procedure are different, Vanquish can cause mild discomfort and warmth during treatment, while CoolSculpting can cause cold and numb sensations.

CoolSculpting vs. Emsculpt

While CoolSculpting specifically targets fat cells, Emsculpt is a body contouring solution that primarily focuses on building muscle strength and tone. Fat reduction is a secondary benefit of the procedure. Both procedures are FDA-cleared.

If fat reduction is the patient’s primary objective, Emsculpt can be combined with one of the other fat reduction procedures, such as CoolSculpting. Emsculpt is also more applicable to larger body areas.

Emsculpt is generally considered to have fewer side effects than CoolSculpting, although it can certainly generate muscle soreness after treatment

Minimally or Non-Invasive?

Minimally or Non-Invasive thumbnail

Kybella is considered “minimally invasive” because it involves injecting a substance directly into the targeted area using a needle. Although the injections are relatively small and cause minimal discomfort, the procedure still involves puncturing the skin and introducing a foreign substance into the body. This makes Kybella a slightly more invasive procedure than treatments that do not require injections.

CoolSculpting, Vanquish, and Emsculpt are considered “non-invasive” because they do not require any injections, incisions, or puncturing of the skin. These treatments involve placing a device on or near the skin’s surface, and do not result in damage to the skin or surrounding tissue, or introduce foreign substances into the body.

Both treatments can be effective for fat reduction, but the choice between them may depend on factors such as the treatment area, patient preferences, and the desired outcome.

Treatments that use special apparatus to achieve their results (CoolSculpting, Vanquish, and Emsculpt) require FDA clearances to be used in the USA. Any treatment that uses an injected substance (Kybella) requires the stricter FDA approval, with correspondingly greater testing.

Minimally invasive and non-invasive procedures are all significantly safer than invasive alternatives, namely liposuction and other surgical techniques. They typically have far fewer side effects, shorter recovery times, and generally lower costs.

It should also be noted that for any procedure, regardless of the degree of invasiveness, the skill and experience of the practitioner performing the treatment is critically important. Don’t assume that you won’t need a medically qualified practitioner because you’re having a non-invasive procedure. Selecting a medically-qualified, trained, skilled, and experienced practitioner is by far the best way to ensure that you will have the best results and fewest unwanted side-effects, regardless of which procedure you choose.

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