Cryolipolysis - Fat Freezing
What is cryolipolysis?
Cryolipolysis, commonly referred to as Fat Freezing or CoolSculpting by patients, uses very cold temperatures to break down fat cells. The fat cells are particularly susceptible to the effects of cold, unlike other types of cells. So this means while the fat cells freeze, the skin and other structures are spared from injury or trauma.
This is becoming one of the most popular nonsurgical fat reduction treatments available today, with over 850,000 procedures performed worldwide already .
Patients who wish to reduce a localized stubborn fat bulge or mass that has persisted despite diet and exercise may be interested in cryolipolysis.
Who is not a candidate for cryolipolysis?
Patients with cold-related conditions, like cryoglobulinemia, cold urticaris and paroxysmal cold hemoglobulinuria should not have cryolipolysis. Patients with loose skin or poor tone may not be suitable candidates for the procedure unless its in conjunction with a skin tightening treatment.
What does cryolipolysis do?
The goal of cryolipolysis is to reduce the volume of fat in a fatty bulge. Some patients may opt to have more than one area treated or to retreat an area more than once.
Does cryolipolysis require anesthesia?
This procedure is done without anesthesia.
Cryolipolysis procedure consists of the following.
After an assessment of the dimensions and shape of the fatty bulge to be treated, an applicator of the appropriate size and curvature is chosen. The area of concern is marked to identify the site for applicator placement. A gel pad is placed to protect the skin. The applicator is applied and the bulge is vacuumed into the hollow of the applicator. The temperature inside the applicator drops, and as it does so, the area numbs. Patients sometimes experience discomfort from the vacuum's pull on their tissue, but this resolves within minutes, once the area is numb.
Patients typically watch TV, use their smart phone or read during the procedure. After the treatment, the vacuum turns off, the applicator is removed and the area is massaged, which may help to improve the final results.
Are there any risks with cryolipolysis?
The complication rate is low and the satisfaction rate is high. There is a risk of surface irregularities and asymmetry. Patients may not get the result they'd hoped for. Rarely, in less than 1 percent, patients may have paradoxical fat hyperplasia, which is an unexpected increase in the number of fat cells. This is three times more likely in men than in women and is seen more in those of Hispanic or Latino descent.
Recovering from cryolipolysis
There are no activity restrictions. Patients sometimes feel sore, as if they had worked out. Rarely do patients experience pain. If that happens the patient should contact the plastic surgeon, who may prescribe medication for a few days.
What are the results of cryolipolysis?
The injured fat cells are gradually eliminated by the body over 1 to 3 months. During that time the fatty bulge decreases in size, with an average fat reduction of about 24%.
What are the advantages of cryolipolysis?
There are many advantages to cryolipolysis:
No surgery or incision is required.
It is a very low risk procedure. There is no risk of infection.
The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis.
Clients do not need to be sedated or anesthetized before the procedure.
Multiple areas of the body may be treated in a single session.
Most people resume their normal daily activities immediately after each treatment.
The procedure can be performed on people of all ages.
There is no damage to nerve fibers, blood vessels, muscles, or lasting damage to the skin in the treatment area.
Fat cells that have been damaged or destroyed are permanently removed from the body and will Not return.
Clients will also experience an increase in self-esteem due to an improvement in their appearance.
What are the disadvantages of cryolipolysis?
Disadvantages of cryolipolysis include:
The procedure is recommended only for people who are in good general health with no neurologic or orthopaedic problems and who are looking for “spot” fat reduction in specific areas on the body. Cryolipolysis is not recommended for people who are significantly overweight or obese.
There is a risk that the skin surface may be irregular/not smooth after healing.
More than one session may be needed to achieve a person’s desired results.
If more than one treatment sessions is needed, the next session can’t be performed until 6 weeks after the first session. This is because it can take this long for damaged fat cells to be eliminated from the body.
Results are not evident immediately. Since fat cells are removed gradually from the body, it can take 3 to 6 months to achieve your optimal results.
One rare side effect that may occur is paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. In this rare condition, the size of fat cells increases after cryolipolysis. Men and people of Hispanic ethnicity are more likely to experience it.
Weight gain is possible after undergoing cryolipolysis. Fat may be deposited in other areas of the body.
Are there any people for whom cryolipolysis is not recommended?
Cryolipolysis should not be performed on patients who are obese or significantly overweight. Also, it should not be performed on areas of skin that are cut or injured, contain severe varicose veins, dermatitis, or other skin lesions.
People who have abnormal cold sensitivity or cold intolerance are not suitable candidates. The procedure is not recommended for people who have the following conditions:
Raynaud’s phenomenon. A rare condition in which cold temperatures can impede blood flow to the fingers and toes.
Cryoglobulinemia. A type of vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) caused by abnormal proteins that become solid or gel-like in the presence of cold temperatures. It is associated with blocked blood vessels and other problems.
Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria. A very rare autoimmune disease in which red blood cells are damaged during exposure to cold.
Cold urticaria. A rare condition in which the skin develops red, itchy spots (hives) after exposure to cold temperatures.
Cold agglutinin disease. A rare type of autoimmune hemolytic anemia in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys its own red blood cells. The condition is often triggered or made worse by cold temperatures.
Other conditions that pose a risk include
Nerve disorders, such as diabetic neuropathy
Inflammatory skin disorders
How is cryolipolysis performed?
The procedure can be done in an outpatient clinic. The size and shape of the fatty deposit is assessed and the area to be treated is outlined with a skin-marking pencil. Patients are awake during the procedure.
A handheld device called an applicator is used to freeze the layer of fat cells (adipocytes) underneath the skin. First, a gel pad is applied to the area to protect the skin. Next, the fatty bulge is suctioned or vacuumed into the applicator’s hollow opening. You will feel a tugging or pulling sensation as suction is applied. These sensations, intense cold plus other possible sensations – tingling, stinging, aching, cramping – lessen after 5 to 10 minutes as the area becomes numb during the cooling down process. The fat layer is gradually cooled to the target temperature of between 30.2 and 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
It takes up to one hour to treat an area dependant on size and area. After the area is treated, the applicator is removed. The area may be massaged for 2 to 3 minutes to assist with the breakdown of the fat cells.
How are fat cells destroyed?
The technique is based on the finding that fat cells are more susceptible to damage from cold temperatures than other cells, such as skin cells. The cold temperature injures the fat cells. The injury triggers an inflammatory response by the body, which results in the death of the fat cells. Macrophages, a type of white blood cells and part of the body’s immune system, is “called to the injury location,” to rid the dead fat cells and debris from the body.
How much localized fat can one expect to lose from cryolipolysis and when will I start to notice results?
Studies have shown an average fat reduction of between 15 and 28 percent at around 4 months after initial treatment. However, you may begin to notice changes as early as 3 weeks after treatment. Dramatic improvement is noticed after about 2 months.
What side effects are to be expected immediately after cryolipolysis?
Temporary side effects for the areas that are treated may include:
Pain or aches
Stinging or tingling of the skin
Skin discoloration or bruising
Skin sensitivity or numbness
Side effects may persist for a few days to a few weeks after treatment. Your doctor may recommend that you take an analgesic medication to relieve pain or other discomfort.
How many cryolipolysis treatment sessions are typically needed?
You may have only one problematic area that may require only one treatment session. You may have more than one problem area that may require treatment or may need more than one treatment in a specific area to achieve your desired goal. You will work with your doctor to design a plan – and the number of treatment sessions – that will best meet your desired goals.
Back to Work
2-3 days estimated
No. of Treatments
Long term results
Mild Redness, slight numbness up to 7 days