Coolsculpting is a non-invasive medical procedure designed to reduce unsightly bulges in the body caused by excess fat. Although it is effective at helping people make mild alterations to their body, most people who are considering undergoing the procedure wonder how long the results last. It depends on a couple of factors. Here's what you need to know about achieving and maintaining the best results from coolsculpting.

Potentially Lifelong Results

Unlike other fat removal procedures, the results from coolsculpting can potentially last a lifetime because of the way the technology affects fat cells. Essentially, cooling paddles placed at the treatment area emits blasts of coldness designed to destroy fat cells. Later, those cells and the stored fat they contained are purged by the body. Since fat takes up more space in the body than muscle, the loss of those fat cells typically results in smoother appearance in the treated area, though it can take up to four months to see any visible changes.

In general, the body makes fat cells when it needs more space to store excess calories. As long as you maintain your weight, the risk of those fat cells returning—and the muffin top associated with them—remains fairly low. However, every person's body is different, and there are a couple of things that may impact exactly how long your individual results last.

Things That Can Make the Fat Return

Your biology will have a major impact on whether coolsculpting will provide you with lifetime results or not. According to available research, each person has a minimum number of fat cells in their bodies, and all of these fat cells develop by the time people reach their early twenties. The body then maintains the required amount of fat cells by replacing the ones that die with new cells. When you destroy fat cells via coolsculpting, therefore, there is a chance they will return if eliminating them results in you having less cells than the minimum amount required for your body.

For example, your biology dictates you should have at least 1,000 fat cells. You actually have 1,050 cells because you gained some excess weight. If coolsculpting eliminates 65 fat cells, your body will—at minimum—regenerate 15 cells to ensure you maintain your 1,000 fat cells as programmed by your genes and other factors.

There's nothing you can do to change the amount of fat cells your body wants you to have. The best way to handle this situation is to keep your existing fat cells as small as possible by maintaining a healthy weight via diet and exercise. You may also want to look at alternative treatment options if your goal is to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Another issue that can shorten the lifespan of your coolsculpting results is chronic stress. There are a couple of ways this emotion affects your body. First, your body interprets stress as an indicator you're under attack in some way. Thus, it releases a slew of hormones—adrenaline, cortisol—designed to provide you with the strength and energy needed to fend off the threat.

These hormones can trigger the urge to eat, because your body thinks you expended a lot of calories dealing with the attack even when you haven't. Unfortunately, your body craves sugary foods like cakes and candies when you're in this mode because it's a good source of quick energy. Chronic stress means you are constantly in a fight or flight state of existence, and you'll likely end up overeating on a regular basis as a result.

Second, the hormones triggered by stress forces your body to hold onto your fat stores in case you need them to keep fighting. So not only are you eating more food, your body resists your efforts to get rid of the excess calories. Thus, regardless of your previous weight loss efforts, you will likely gain weight as a result.

Your body will make more fat cells if your current amount can't handle all the excess energy you're consuming, thus reversing the results you obtained with coolsculpting. It's important to learn techniques for handling stress in healthy ways before you undergo the procedure, so you don't accidentally regrow your muffin top because of your stressful lifestyle.

To learn more about coolsculpting, contact a provider, such as Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center, in your area.