Would you like a surgical or nonsurgical procedure? That’s the number-one question doctors ask during a consultation for a cosmetic treatment. While there’s no right or wrong answer, it’s important to note that choosing between an invasive or noninvasive option isn’t as black and white as it seems. Many times, the best—and most lasting—results come from a combination of the two with patients moving seamlessly from surgery to a nonsurgical alternative like CoolSculpting or CoolTone. NewBeauty called up Pasadena, CA plastic surgeon Lily Lee, MD to hear about why booking back-to-back rejuvenation appointments may be the most beneficial course of action for patients.
NewBeauty: Why is using a combination of surgical and nonsurgical treatments something patients should consider if they’d like to maximize their results?
Dr. Lee: I think a lot of times people think of surgery like a sentence that ends with a period and they’re done. What nonsurgical treatments do is make surgery more of the beginning of a sentence that ends with a comma. It adds an extra thought to it, and if you’re making the comparison to a sentence, it adds complexity—it makes it a better sentence if you will, which leads to better results.
Sometimes people will come in and say, “Oh I want to do surgery, and I want this to be the first and last time I ever show up at a plastic surgeon’s office,” but for the most part, I think the days of the extreme makeover are gone. The best plastic surgery in my opinion is taking small baby steps constantly along the way. Even if you take a giant leap with surgery, you still have to complete your journey with nonsurgical treatments.
NB: What surgeries benefit most from having CoolSculpting or CoolTone done afterwards?
LL: Many times we’ll use them after a tummy tuck, whether it’s a regular or mini one. Liposuction is another good example, but it’s important to note we cannot go over a scar within six months because it’s too fresh. However, a lot of times the area we’re touching up is nowhere near the scar. When we use a nonsurgical option really depends on the patient’s body. Sometimes they’re pretty darn close and it’s really just a little bit of excess skin or fat that CoolSculpting can touch up. Or there’s CoolTone, which can actually bulk up the muscle underneath and make the area look even better.
NB: How do you decide between CoolSculpting or CoolTone post-surgery?
LL: CoolSculpting is for fat reduction, so it’s freezing the fats cells to death, so they go away completely. Some people liken it to liposuction thanks to its removal of fat cells, but with CoolSculpting, you really can only expect about a 20-percent reduction of fat of the pinched area, whereas liposuction can take care of much larger bulk. It’s more for sculpting, so the name is extremely appropriate, making it ideal for small touch-ups.
CoolTone is for muscle bulk. You use it once the fat is gone or at a point where the patient and doctor are happy with it. CoolTone bulks up the muscle underneath so that the treated area looks tighter. At first I was hesitant about the CoolTone technology, but I’ve seen how much it can give people that extra boost, especially if they’re maxed out at what they can do at the gym or with their diet.
It’s important to note that CoolSculpting is permanent, similar to surgery. CoolTone is not. It resets, but it’s dealing with muscle atrophy or muscle enhancement, so if you don’t use the muscle, either by coming in for touch-ups or through working out, that muscle will just go back to where it was.
NB: How do nonsurgical and surgical treatments influence each other?
LL: When I originally invested in nonsurgical technology, I thought of it as a gateway toward surgery—that people would want to do nonsurgicals first, and once they got used to it, then they could inquire about surgery. I’ve been surprised that it actually has happened in the other direction. After surgery, people have seen good results, but they want to really hit the home run and make sure their waist is carved out nicely after a tummy tuck.
NB: How long after surgery do you have to wait before booking a nonsurgical procedure?
LL: It depends on where we’re doing it. With a mini-tummy tuck, I would probably still wait about six weeks at minimum for the scars to heal. But if we’re doing it away from the actual scar, you can possibly do it a little sooner. With CoolSculpting, you typically see results four to six weeks after, but usually one treatment is not necessarily enough. Many times, a minimum of two or three CoolSculpting sessions are needed for maximum results.
CoolTone, on the other hand, comes as a four-session package with the appointments scheduled two to three days apart. Patients tend to see results pretty quickly. In terms of touch-ups, it depends on the patient’s lifestyle—it can happen anywhere from four weeks after the first session to four months or six months later.