In the world of noninvasive fat removal, CoolSculpting is more popular than ever.

Also known as cryolipolysis, CoolSculpting is performed by dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons for people looking to get rid of stubborn fat cells on small areas of the body. These areas include the arms, chin, and abdomen.

The process works by “freezing” fat cells via a vacuum applicator. It’s performed in your doctor’s office. Over the following weeks, the targeted fat cells will continue to break down.

Because not everyone can afford CoolSculpting and it isn’t covered by insurance, some people have tried to copy the procedure at home using ice and other frozen products. This is definitely not recommended. Attempting CoolSculpting at home is not only ineffective, but also potentially dangerous.

CoolSculpting is known for “freezing” fat cells, but there’s much more to the process.

During your treatment, your provider uses a small applicator that also sucks out some of the frozen fat cells. The process causes remaining fat cells in the area to shrink and destroy themselves over the following weeks.

DIY CoolSculpting often involves ice cubes or other frozen materials. It’s done in an effort to freeze fat cells. However, applying ice at home only freezes your skin and doesn’t get rid of any fat cells.

Attempting CoolSculpting at home carries several health risks, including:

Afterward, you may also need medical treatment to repair tissue damage.

While the risks of trying CoolSculpting at home are far greater than having the actual procedure done, this doesn’t mean that professional treatments are completely risk-free.

It’s possible to experience mild side effects during and after a CoolSculpting procedure, such as:

  • cold
  • numbness
  • minor pressure
  • pain
  • redness
  • swelling
  • tenderness
  • feelings of fullness
  • tingling sensations

Such side effects of CoolSculpting may temporarily worsen in the days following your treatment, but then they will subside within a few weeks. This is because your body’s fat cells are still shrinking long after the procedure is over.

It’s also possible to develop a condition called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia after having the procedure. Though rare, this condition causes fat cells to enlarge again months later.

Talk to your provider about all the possible risks of your treatment. You’re much safer under the care of a professional rather than trying CoolSculpting at home.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of CoolSculpting in 2017 was $1,481 per session. The cost can slightly vary based on the area of skin being treated, with smaller areas costing a little bit less. Some providers charge between $650 and $800 per area.

Fees may also vary by provider. It’s good to know this information in advance, as CoolSculpting, like other aesthetic procedures, isn’t covered by medical insurance.

However, you shouldn’t let the cost of CoolSculpting scare you into trying it out on your own at home. Many providers offer payment plans, and financing may also be an option. The CoolSculpting company itself also sometimes offers discounts or mail-in rebates.

If you attempt CoolSculpting at home and injure yourself, you could end up spending more money on medical care than you would have spent on professional CoolSculpting treatments to begin with.

The more some people learn about CoolSculpting, the more tempting it is for them to try to freeze away fat cells at home. This is a very dangerous practice that could pose severe health consequences.

It’s always best to see an experienced CoolSculpting provider for your treatment. Only they have the equipment and training to perform the procedure safely.

While professional CoolSculpting may have mild side effects, this is nothing compared to the serious risks that DIY procedures may pose.

If you want to know if CoolSculpting is right for you, see a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon for a free consultation. It’s also important to note that the procedure isn’t a substitute for healthy lifestyle habits. CoolSculpting only gets rid of targeted areas of fat that haven’t responded to diet and exercise.