Cryolipolysis: Fat Freezing, CoolSculpting & more

The scientific and general term for fat freezing treatments like CoolSculpting
Last updated on
February 4, 2024

What is the difference between Cryolipolysis: , Fat Freezing and CoolSculpting?

What is cryolipolysis?

Cryolipolysis is the scientific name for nonsurgical fat freezing. In these body-contouring procedures, specialists suction body fat into different-sized applicators to freeze the fat-dense tissue, which subsequently leads to cellular decay. Following the crystallization and deterioration of the fat cells, they are naturally excreted from the body as waste within a 4 to 6-month timeframe, due to the inherent inflammatory process. Cryolipolysis can effectively target regions such as the abdomen, flanks, upper arms, inner thighs, under the chin, the area beneath the butt (commonly referred to as "banana rolls"), as well as the fat protrusions on the back and around the bra.

A comprehensive review in 2015 from the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal explored the results of 19 past studies on cryolipolysis effectiveness. The review discovered that participants lost between 14.67% and 28.5% of their fat in the treated areas as per calliper measurements. Ultrasound assessments revealed a fat reduction ranging from 10.3% to 25.5%.

Another independent review encompassing 16 studies on clinical effectiveness published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, showed subjects experienced an average fat reduction of 19.55%.

While several cryolipolysis devices are operating in Australia, CoolSculpting by Zeltiq is the most popular for this fat freezing treatment. Additionally, CoolSculpting has devoted over 15 years to researching this procedure method.

Although not primarily designed for skin tightening, a 2014 study illustrated the procedure's potential in addressing lax skin, showcasing some skin tightening.

Pros & cons of cryolipolysis


  • Cryolipolysis, a non-invasive fat reduction procedure, doesn't necessitate incision, thus avoiding surgical scarring.
  • There is no need for sedation or anesthesia.
  • It is possible to treat more than one part of the body in a single sitting.
  • Most individuals can instantly return to their regular activities post-treatment, with no recuperation time needed.
  • Once the fat cells are destroyed, they are permanently expelled from the body.


  • Cryolipolysis is primarily designed for localized fat reduction and is not suitable for the removal of large quantities of excess fat.
  • To achieve the desired body-contouring results, multiple sessions may be necessary.
  • You can still gain weight following cryolipolysis, both in the treated zone and in other body parts.
  • Those suffering from metabolic disorders or diabetes might swiftly regain the eliminated fat.
  • Some patients have reported experiencing nerve pain approximately five days post-treatment.

How much does cryolipolysis cost?

Average Cost: $1,400

Range: $300 - $5,200

The total cost of your cryolipolysis treatment will be influenced by the following factors:

  • The qualifications and expertise of your service provider
  • The geographical location of their clinic
  • How many body areas you would like treated
  • The total number of treatment cycles and sessions you undergo
  • Your choice between CoolSculpting or a more budget-friendly alternative of fat freezing

You should ideally plan for a minimum of 2 treatment cycles. While a single session can indeed reduce fat in the targeted area, most clients require more than one treatment to achieve their desired results.

As this is an elective cosmetic procedure, it is not covered by Medicare or private health insurance.

What happens during a cryolipolysis treatment?

During your cryolipolysis treatment, the service provider will secure a protective gel pad on your skin before using the paddle or applicator. In the case of CoolSculpting, your skin and the fat layer beneath it are drawn into the paddle, subsequently reducing the temperature of the selected tissue. The freezing induces numbness in the area, and you'll experience a profound cooling effect. Once the paddle is detached, your practitioner will then massage the frozen fat to ensure a flat surface. The duration of a session ranges from 30 minutes to an hour, contingent on the size of the targeted area. To achieve optimal outcomes, the majority of individuals require a series of 2 to 3 cryolipolysis appointments.

When will I see my cryolipolysis results?

The effects of cryolipolysis on decreasing body fat aren't instantaneous. Given that the fat gradually departs the body over a period, initial results typically start to emerge between 3 to 4 weeks post-treatment. More distinct results can be noticed within a 6 to 8-week period, with the final results being visible within 6 months. Certain practitioners propose a daily massage of the treated area for approximately five minutes to enhance the overall results.

How long do cryolipolysis results last?

While the eradication of fat cells through cryolipolysis is permanent, it is crucial to remember that only a portion of those fat cells in the treatment area are eliminated. Any fat cells left intact have the potential to expand with any increase in weight. Given that cryolipolysis isn't designed as a weight loss procedure, it is most suitable for individuals who are within 10kgs of their desired weight.

Risks and possible side effects of cryolipolysis

The incredibly low temperatures used in cryolipolysis specifically target and destroy fat cells, thereby avoiding harm to the skin, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Although there's no real period of rest or recovery needed, slight tenderness post-procedure is quite common. You may also observe some redness, swelling, bruising, or even numbness in the treated area, lasting anywhere from a single day to several weeks.

A rare yet severe potential adverse effect of cryolipolysis is paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), which is an unexpected increase in fat post-treatment. This condition is permanent and can only be remedied through liposuction. The impacted fat will not diminish with diet, exercise, or additional cryolipolysis sessions.

Doctors also advise that individuals with cold-related conditions, such as cryoglobulinemia, cold urticaria, and paroxysmal cold hemoglobulinuria, should refrain from undergoing cryolipolysis.

Studies & Sources

Derrick, CD, Shridharani, SM & Broyles, JM 2015, ‘The Safety and Efficacy of Cryolipolysis: A Systematic Review of Available Literature’, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, vol. 35, no. 7, pp. 830–836, viewed 29 June 2023, <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26038367/>.

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 29 June 2023, <https://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/Fulltext/2015/06000/Cryolipolysis_for_Fat_Reduction_and_Body.13.aspx>.

Stevens, WG 2014, ‘Does Cryolipolysis Lead to Skin Tightening? A First Report of Cryodermadstringo’, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. NP32–NP34, viewed 29 June 2023, <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24923600/>.

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