Cryolipolysis is an innovative technique used in cosmetic procedures whereby excess fat is destroyed using frigid temperatures. It is a safe way to get rid of that annoying excess fat and is also noninvasive, which means no more incisions, anesthesia, or needles.
The treatment that first capitalized upon cryolipolysis and put it on the map, called CoolSculpting, uses controlled temperatures to freeze and kill fat cells in those stubborn deposits. Later, the body naturally and gradually flushes these dead cells from the system. This process takes considerable amounts of time compared to invasive fat-loss techniques like liposuction. Patients ultimately start noticing results about three to four weeks after their session, and most will require multiple treatments to achieve optimal results.
How Was Cryolipolysis Discovered?
A couple of Harvard doctors observed that children who commonly ate popsicles developed cheek dimples more frequently. Upon noticing this, they conducted a few studies and concluded the dimples formed as a result of fat cells becoming inflamed in their mouths. With time, this resulted in fat cells in their cheeks dying off, a process that paved the way for the development of cryolipolysis.
Test phases trying to demonstrate the effect of extreme cold on the body’s cells showed that fat cells reacted more strongly to cold than any other type of cell. In fact, fatty deposits start crystallization at about 4 degrees Celsius, while skin and muscle were left almost wholly unaffected.
What Does the Treatment Feel Like?
Your doctor or practitioner will help assess the treatable areas during your initial consultation, as well as determine the number of sessions needed to provide optimal results. You will likely require multiple sessions because CoolSculpting uses a noninvasive method that kills about 20 percent of the fat cells per treated body part.
To begin, the areas slated for treatment will be pre-marked. The skin (and fat cells) then have a gel pad placed on top, and then are squeezed together inside a suctioning tool called an applicator. At this point, the actual cooling process begins. The cold freezes the fat underneath your skin, but it does not harm the epidermis or underlying tissues. The quick procedure should not feel too painful, and you can listen to music or read a magazine during the process. Most people only feel marginal discomfort during cryolipolysis thanks to the numbing effect of the cold temperatures, although the post-treatment massage that breaks up damaged fat cells can hurt considerably.
Each session should take about 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the number of areas treated and the amount of fat that needs to be removed. Patients will start noticing results about three weeks after the procedure. As a small hack, if they combine multiple sessions as close together as the doctor allows, the results could come faster and more drastic.
The complete results take a few months to fully appear, which is much slower than other more invasive procedures. Given that cryolipolysis is a noninvasive method, the frozen fat cells need time to decompose and be flushed out of the system naturally.