Are you curious about the buzz surrounding fat freezing? This innovative procedure, also known as cryolipolysis, has garnered much attention for its promise of reducing stubborn pockets of fat without the need for surgery. But you may find yourself asking: Does fat freezing really work? Is it the miracle solution for body contouring that it's made out to be? In this article, we aim to answer these questions and more.
What is Fat Freezing?
Fat freezing, medically known as cryolipolysis, is one of the latest trends in non-invasive body sculpting - a way to shape your body by reducing pockets of fat without the need for needles, knives, or significant downtime. The term 'cryolipolysis' itself is a combination of 'cryo' (cold), 'lipo' (fat), and 'lysis' (destruction), pointing to the process of using cold to destroy fat cells.
The idea for this procedure was sparked by an intriguing observation. Scientists noticed a phenomenon called "cold-induced fat necrosis" that occurred when children ate popsicles that were left resting on their cheeks for an extended period. This phenomenon resulted in inflammation in the fat, but not the overlying skin, leading to the conclusion that fat may be more sensitive to cold than other tissue types.
These findings led to the creation and testing of a cooling device that could selectively target and destroy fat cells without damaging the overlying skin. The results were promising and by 2010, the first cryolipolysis technology for human use, named CoolSculpting, was approved as a treatment for various parts of the body, including the thighs, belly, bra fat, back, the underside of the buttocks, and chin.
Today, CoolSculpting and other forms of cryolipolysis have been used in millions of treatments around the world, offering a non-surgical alternative for those seeking to lose stubborn areas of fat.
The Science Behind Fat Freezing
The science behind fat freezing, or cryolipolysis, is fascinating and relies on the principle that fat cells are more susceptible to cold than other types of body cells.
When undergoing a cryolipolysis procedure, a cooling device is applied to the area of unwanted fat. This device lowers the temperature in a controlled manner to freeze and destroy the fat cells underneath the skin. It's worth noting that this cooling process is designed to target fat cells specifically and does not harm the skin or surrounding tissues.
While the exact mechanism is still not entirely understood, it's believed that a few days after the treatment, the cooled fat cells begin to die. Over the next several months, these dead fat cells are digested by macrophages, part of the body's immune system. This process gradually reduces the thickness of the fat layer in the treated area.
The Effectiveness of Fat Freezing
Let's explore the big question at hand: does fat freezing work? According to numerous studies and millions of treatments worldwide, the answer appears to be a resounding yes - cryolipolysis can effectively reduce areas of stubborn fat.
Results from fat freezing can often be seen as soon as three weeks after treatment, with the maximum benefit seen at approximately three months. The average reduction in fat ranges from about 10% to 25% per round of treatment, with no evidence of any body-wide side effects. Depending on the desired results, a second or third session may be needed after several months.
Research generally supports the effectiveness of CoolSculpting and other forms of cryolipolysis. A 2015 review in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery analyzed 19 previous studies of cryolipolysis and found that it was a relatively safe and effective treatment for removing some areas of fat. A more recent 2020 study found that cryolipolysis, especially when using new and better-fitting applicators, was safe and effective in quickly reducing excess fat in various body areas.
The procedure also delivers lasting results. Once the fat cells are destroyed and removed from the body, they will not return. However, it's crucial to note that while the treated fat cells are gone for good, gaining weight can cause the remaining fat cells to grow, potentially reversing the effects of the treatment. As such, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to preserving the results of your fat freezing treatment.
Who is a good candidate for Fat Freezing?
As we delve deeper into the world of fat freezing, it's crucial to understand that this treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution. While cryolipolysis can effectively reduce pockets of stubborn fat, it's not designed as a weight loss method, nor is it suitable for everyone.
The ideal candidate for fat freezing is someone who is close to their ideal body weight but struggles with stubborn, pinchable areas of fat that are difficult to eliminate with diet and exercise alone. These might be areas like love handles, thigh fat, or stubborn belly fat.
Importantly, cryolipolysis targets subcutaneous fat - the fat you can pinch - not visceral fat, which is the fat located deep within the abdomen around your organs. As such, while cryolipolysis can help you contour your body and fit better into your clothes, it won't improve your overall health in the way that reducing visceral fat would.
Moreover, while cryolipolysis has a high success and satisfaction rate, it's worth noting that the procedure doesn't work for everyone. Lifestyle and other factors may also play a role. A person who continues with an unhealthy diet and remains sedentary while undergoing cryolipolysis can expect less fat reduction.
Fat Freezing Does Indeed Work
Fat freezing, or cryolipolysis, is an innovative method that has revolutionized the world of non-invasive body sculpting. Backed by science and widely used around the globe, it has proven to be a safe and effective technique for targeted fat loss. However, it's essential to understand that fat freezing is not a one-stop solution for weight loss or a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.
The process works best on individuals close to their ideal body weight with stubborn pockets of fat that resist diet and exercise. The results, though not instantaneous, are lasting, as the treated fat cells are permanently destroyed. But maintaining these results requires a commitment to a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
As with any medical procedure, it's advisable to discuss the treatment with a healthcare professional to understand the potential benefits and risks. They can provide personalized advice based on your unique body type, health status, and goals.
Studies & Sources
Coleman, SR, Sachdeva, K, Egbert, BM, Preciado, J & Allison, J 2009, ‘Clinical Efficacy of Noninvasive Cryolipolysis and Its Effects on Peripheral Nerves’, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 482–488, viewed 20 June 2023, <https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00266-008-9286-8>.
Ingargiola, MJ, Motakef, S, Chung, MT, Vasconez, HC & Sasaki, GH 2015, ‘Cryolipolysis for Fat Reduction and Body Contouring’, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 135, no. 6, pp. 1581–1590, viewed 20 June 2023, <https://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/Fulltext/2015/06000/Cryolipolysis_for_Fat_Reduction_and_Body.13.aspx>.
Oh, CH, Shim, JS, Bae, KI & Chang, JH 2020, ‘Clinical application of cryolipolysis in Asian patients for subcutaneous fat reduction and body contouring’, Archives of Plastic Surgery, vol. 47, no. 2, pp. 200–200, viewed 20 June 2023, <https://www.thieme-connect.de/products/ejournals/abstract/10.5999/aps.2019.01305>.
Sadick, N, Luebberding, S, Mai, SV & Krueger, N 2014, ‘Cryolipolysis for noninvasive body contouring: clinical efficacy and patient satisfaction’, Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, vol. 7, p. 201, viewed 20 June 2023, <https://www.dovepress.com/cryolipolysis-for-noninvasive-body-contouring-clinical-efficacy-and-pa-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-CCID>.