Freezing Off Fat: Innovative or Dangerous?
Fitness experts tell you to "feel the burn," but others may soon be telling you to "cool it." That's because Cryolipolysis, a new technique for eliminating unwanted body fat, is quickly becoming popular. The Food and Drug Administration only recently approved it, but many dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons have been performing cryolipolysis "off label" for a while. So, is freezing your fat off innovative or dangerous?
Cryolipolysis is a minimally invasive, painless procedure that was originally intended to cool the skin during dermatologic and other medical procedures. Doctors determined, however, that when it was used to strategically cool areas with fat underneath, it had the effect of gradually reducing and removing some of the fat itself. The procedure has since gained popularity as yet another weapon in the arsenal of fat reduction techniques that includes liposuction. The advantage of this fat freezing technique, however, is that it does not involve surgery, anesthesia, or recovery time.
Doctors apply either a saucer-sized suction cup or a gel-type patch to the targeted area and apply a cooling device. Patients report minimal or no discomfort because instead of freezing the skin, the cooling effect is directed to the fat underneath. When that surface fat layer is cooled to a freezing temperature, the fat cells degenerate and the body metabolizes them. The result is about a 22 percent reduction of fat in the targeted area. It's not instant though. It takes around an hour for each fat freezing procedure, and the effects aren't noticeable for about eight weeks.
An article published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine conducted a review of cryolipolysis techniques, devices, and procedures to help determine how they might work for cosmetic procedures and whether fat freezing is safe. They concluded that while they can't say for certain how cryolipolysis works or where the fat goes, it does have the affect of reducing fat and appears to be safe. Matthew Avram, MD, lead author of the journal article points out that this procedure is not comparable to liposuction and is not a weight-loss device.
The procedure costs between $400 and $1500 per treatment, but it appears that one freezing procedure is enough. Doctors say it's best used for patients who are already at or near their optimal weight, physically fit, and looking for help with stubborn fat deposits that are resistant to exercise and diet.
Is this the fat-blasting trend of the future? It's too early to say but it does appear to be a cool option for some people.
CryolipolysisTM for subcutaneous fat layer reduction
- Mathew M. Avram MD, JD1,*,
- Rosemary S. Harry MSBME2
Article first published online: 14 DEC 2009
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.