In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in alternative methods of body contouring and fat reduction that do not require going under the knife. One of these procedures that has attracted a lot of attention is Cryolipolysis. This non-surgical body contouring treatment aims to eliminate stubborn body fat. This article discusses this procedure, its advantages and disadvantages and what you can expect if you decide to undergo this treatment.
What Is Cryolipolysis?
Cryolipolysis, known as ‘fat freezing’, is a non-invasive (non-surgical) method to eliminate unwanted body fat. It has become a more popular procedure over time since it received Food and Drug Administration approval in 2010.The procedure works by using a device that cools fat cells in a targeted part of your body to a temperature that triggers their natural death without harming the surrounding tissues. The dead fat cells are then naturally eliminated from the body over several weeks or months.
How does cryolipolysis work?
‘Cryolipolysis’ comes from the Greek words ‘cryo’, meaning cold, ‘lipos’ meaning fat, and ‘lysis’ meaning dissolution or loosening. As such, Cryolipolysis essentially translates to fat dissolution or breaking down by cooling.
The procedure works based on the principle that fat cells are more susceptible to cold temperatures than other types of cells. During a Cryolipolysis treatment, the specialist applies a cooling device onto the targeted fat area. This appliance decreases the temperature of the fat cells to a point where their viability is affected. At the same time, other tissues like skin, muscles, or nerves remain unharmed thanks to their higher tolerance to cold.
When the cooling device is applied to the skin, it creates a vacuum effect, pulling the fat bulge into the applicator. The applicator then cools the fat cells to a specific temperature, usually between -11 to 5 degrees Celsius (12 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit). This controlled cooling process triggers a natural cell death (apoptosis) in the fat cells.
Once the fat cells undergo apoptosis, they gradually break down. They are naturally eliminated from the body through the lymphatic system. Over several weeks, the body metabolizes and flushes out the destroyed fat cells, reducing fat in the treated area.
It is important to note that Cryolipolysis is a non-invasive procedure, meaning it does not require any incisions or anesthesia. The treatment is performed in a comfortable and relaxed setting, allowing patients to read, watch movies, or even nap during the session.
Furthermore, Cryolipolysis is a targeted fat-reduction method, which means it can be applied to specific areas of the body where stubborn fat tends to accumulate. Common treatment areas include the abdomen, flanks (love handles), thighs, upper arms, and chin.
One of the advantages of cryolipolysis is that it is a safe and effective alternative to surgical procedures such as liposuction. It’s allow patients to resume their normal activities immediately after the treatment. Cryolipolysis has been clinically proven to reduce fat in the treated areas by up to 25%.
However, it is essential to note that Cryolipolysis is not a weight loss solution or a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. It is most effective for individuals close to their ideal weight. Still, it struggles with localized pockets of fat resistant to diet and exercise.
Is cryolipolysis safe?
Extensive research and clinical studies have been conducted to assess the safety and efficacy of this procedure. The results have shown that cryolipolysis is a safe and well-tolerated treatment with minimal side effects. Some common side effects may include temporary redness, bruising or numbness in the treated area. Nevertheless, these typically resolve independently within a few days or weeks.
Who is a Good Candidate for Cryolipolysis?
In general, cryolipolysis is suitable for individuals with visible but stubborn pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise. It is not a weight loss solution and is not recommended for individuals who are significantly overweight. Cryolipolysis is best suited for individuals who are close to their ideal weight and want to target specific areas for fat reduction.
What Areas Can Cryolipolysis Treat?
Abdomen: One of the main areas that cryo-lipolysis can effectively treat is the abdomen. Many people struggle with excess fat around their midsection, making it difficult to achieve a firm and flat stomach. With cryolipolysis, unwanted fat cells in the abdominal area can be precisely targeted and eliminated, resulting in a more defined and sculpted waistline.
Sides of the waist: In addition to the abdominal area, cryolipolysis can often be applied for stubborn fat on the sides of the waist. By applying controlled cooling, cryolipolysis can selectively target and destroy fat cells in this area.
Thighs: Furthermore, cryolipolysis is highly effective in treating both inner and outer thighs. Many people struggle with excess fat in these areas, which can create a disproportionate and unpleasant lower body appearance. The use of cryolipolysis reduces fat cells in the thighs, resulting in slimmer and more shapely legs.
Benefits of Cryolipolysis Compared to Other Fat Reduction Procedures
Cryolipolysis presents several advantages compared to other fat-reduction procedures.
- It is non-invasive: Unlike liposuction, there are no needles, anesthesia, or incisions involved.
- No downtime: You can usually return to normal activities immediately after the treatment.
- It is safe: The risk of complications is significantly lower compared to surgical and other non-invasive methods.
- Long-lasting results: Since the fat cells are destroyed and naturally eliminated from the body, results can be permanent as long as a healthy lifestyle is maintained.
Alternatives to Cryolipolysis for Non-Surgical Fat Reduction
While Cryolipolysis is popular, other non-surgical fat reduction methods are available as alternatives. These include:
- Radiofrequency Devices: These generate heat that destroys fat cells.
- High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound: Uses ultrasound energy to heat and kill fat cells.
- Laser Lipolysis: It uses laser energy to heat and dissolve fat cells.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cryolipolysis
Like any procedure, Cryolipolysis has its own pros and cons. The advantages have been discussed above. However, the disadvantages include:
- It can take several weeks or even months to see full results since your body has to process and flush out the dead fat cells naturally.’
- Multiple sessions may be needed depending on the treatment area and desired outcomes.
- It’s not a weight-loss treatment, hence unsuitable for those seeking significant weight loss.
- Some temporary side effects may occur, such as redness, swelling, bruising, or sensitivity in the treated area.
Common Side Effects of Cryolipolysis
Most side effects from Cryolipolysis are temporary and mild. These can include redness, bruising, swelling, firmness, skin sensitivity, minor pain, and a sense of fullness in the back of the throat if you’re receiving treatment for a double chin. Usually, these effects resolve within a few days to a week.
The procedure is well-tolerated overall, and severe side effects are rare.
How Long Does it Take to See Results After Cryolipolysis?
The time it takes to see results from Cryolipolysis can vary. Some patients may start to see changes as quickly as a few weeks after their first treatment, but most effects are seen between one and three months post-treatment. It’s essential to remember that the body continues to flush out fat cells for up to four to six months after treatment.
What to Expect During a Cryolipolysis Treatment
During a Cryolipolysis treatment session, a gel pad and applicator are applied to the targeted area. The applicator delivers controlled cooling to the fat cells underneath the skin. The procedure usually lasts about an hour, and you can expect to feel intense cold and pressure as the applicator suctions the skin. But these sensations typically subside within a few minutes as the area gets numb.
Patients can read, check emails, or even nap during the procedure. Once the device is detached, the treated area may look red and swollen, and the clinician may massage it to help break up the cooled fat cells and enhance fat reduction.
Cryolipolysis is a promising solution for those seeking a non-incursive means of body contouring. However, it’s important to remember that it’s not a weight loss procedure and doesn’t replace a healthy lifestyle. Always consult a qualified medical professional to make an informed decision about your treatment options.
Cost of Cryolipolysis Treatments
The cost of Cryolipolysis treatments can vary widely based on the size of the treatment area, the number of treatments needed, and your location. You can expect to pay between $250 and $500 per treatment session per area. Because multiple sessions are often required, the total cost can add up.