Cryolipolysis, popularly known as CoolSculpting or fat freezing is a noninvasive procedure used by plastic surgeons and other therapists to remove fat in target areas of the body without exercise and diet, much like liposuction but without the surgery, anesthesia and cuts.
In this article, we will have an in-depth look into Cryolipolysis, how it works, its cost, effectiveness, risks, side effects and more.
What is cryolipolysis?
Cryolipolysis is an FDA-approved, branded fat reduction method. It breaks down the fat cells by using freezing temperatures, and hence the name. This method does not damage the skin or underlying tissue because cold does not cause damage to other cells in the body.
The procedure involves vacuuming the skin above the fatty tissue into an applicator which cools the fatty cells. There is no skin or tissue damage, and the procedure normally takes about an hour.
There is no recovery time since there is no damage, but some patients report soreness in the treated area, similar to the feeling after a minor muscle injury or intense workout.
It takes 4-6 months after the procedure for the fat cells to leave the body. On average, patients will normally notice a decrease of fat by 20 percent.
Does cryolipolysis work?
Cryolipolysis has a high success rate. The procedure has successfully removed fat from different areas of the body with fewer side effects compared to liposuction. However, it is not a miracle cure and does not completely remove fat. The procedure does not work for everybody and may have worse side effects in some people more than others.
It also depends on the lifestyle of the person and other such factors. The person who eats an unhealthy diet and leads a sedentary lifestyle will see less fat reduction as compared to another who eats healthy and leads an active lifestyle.
Additionally, Cryolipolysis also does not tighten the loose skin around the fatty buildups that are usually a result of stretched skin.
What does the research say about Cryolipolysis?
Research claims that Cryolipolysis is relatively safe and is an effective treatment for removing fat in certain areas. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery published a 2015 review where they analyzed 19 studies on Cryolipolysis in the past.
The studies measured the fat reduction with the use of a caliper, a instrument that measures external or internal dimensions, and found that people who were treated by Cryolipolysis lost about 14.67 to 28.5 percent of fat on average on the treated areas as compared to the 10.3 to 25.5 percent average reduction of fat on people who were treated with ultrasound.
The study did not find any major health risks associated with the procedure. Lipid levels and liver function remained the same, proving that CoolSculpting was, indeed, nothing more than a cosmetic procedure.
A 2014 study revealed that a further reduction in fat was noticed when the treated area was massaged 2 months post-treatment.
Complications and side effects associated with Cryolipolysis
Since Cryolipolysis does not involve medications, anesthesia, and cuts that are the cause of most allergic reactions, the rate of side effects and complications is lower.
A study conducted by Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that only 12 people out of 1,445 people reported back with complications. Most of these complaints were about decreased sensations in the areas treated.
Other complications include:
- Localized pain
- Skin redness
There are no reports of serious complications like scarring, changes in skin pigmentation or bleeding as per the claims of a 2015 review.
A 2014 review reported a case of an isolated condition known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia after being treated with Cryolipolysis. According to it, it was a rare complication, affecting only 0.005 percent of patients who underwent the procedure. People experiencing this side effect saw a growth of fat cells in the affected area, causing it to bulge. The complication was more common among men, Hispanics, and Latinos.
How long does Cryolipolysis last?
This procedure destroys fat cells, thereby ruling out any possibility of a return in the future. However, most of the studies do not follow subjects longer than a few months post treatment. Science still has little to no evidence on the long-term effects of Cryolipolysis.
There is no evidence that shows that the destruction of fat cells will permanently stop the growth of new fat cells in the same area. This is why it is vital to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to preserve the results of Cryolipolysis. Individuals who lead an unhealthy lifestyle with no exercise and proper diet will see a return of the fat cells over time.
How much does Cryolipolysis cost?
Insurance does not usually cover Cryolipolysis because it is a cosmetic procedure and has nothing to do with treating a health condition.
Prices usually vary depending on the skill of the practitioner, size of the applicator and the geographic location. It also depends on the number of treatments needed as areas with more fat require more than one treatment.
Areas like those under the chin requiring smaller applicators will cost anything between $700 and $900. As for procedures that use larger applicators, the cost ranges between $1,200 and $1,500 or higher.
In Thailand the cost of the Cryolipolysis procedure is much lower, would you be willing to receive a free quotation for this procedure, please feel free to contact us or one of our featured clinics.
What are the alternatives to Cryolipolysis?
Individuals who are looking for faster results may benefit more from liposuction. However, because it is more invasive, the risk of complications and side effects are higher.
The rate of minor complications related to liposuction is 21.7 percent according to a 2015 review while the rate of significant complications is 0.38 percent.
Other nonsurgical alternatives include:
- Radiofrequency lipolysis: Kills fat cells with radiowaves. E.g., Vanquish
- Laser lipolysis: Melts fat cells with hot laser. E.g., SculpSure
- Injection lipolysis: Destroys fat cells with injection. E.g., Kybella
As a cosmetic procedure, Cryolipolysis does not address the issue that causes unwanted fat. Individuals with an unhealthy lifestyle, metabolic condition or diabetes may regain fat quickly following the procedure.
Stubborn fat may be common, but it is important to consult a doctor before undergoing any cosmetic fat-removal procedures because it could be a result of another health condition.
There are many treatments available in the market today to remove fat and Cryolipolysis is just one of the many options. It is important to discuss the different options with a doctor, including the possible risks and complications associated with these procedures.