cryolipolysis treatment


Cryolipolysis, also known by the brand name CoolSculpting, is a non-invasive way to reduce fat in your body. This treatment is FDA-approved and uses cold temperatures to destroy the fat cells in a targeted area without damaging other tissues.

It is ideal for people who are struggling to reduce stubborn pockets of fat in their arms, belly or double chin. It is also good for people who eat well and exercise regularly but still have localized areas of fat.

What is Cryolipolysis?

Cryolipolysis is a non-invasive body contouring treatment that uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy fat cells. It is similar to CoolSculpting, except that it can treat multiple areas of the body at one time. During the treatment, an applicator is placed on the fat bulges and the area is cooled to below freezing temperatures. The process causes the targeted fat cells to go through a process of cell death called apoptosis. The dead cells are processed and eliminated through the liver, leaving the treatment area with less fat.

The injured fat cells take between four and six months to leave the body. This is why it takes so long for the patient to see results from the procedure. It is also why people who receive cryolipolysis tend to lose less weight than those who have liposuction.

There are some people who should not have this procedure performed, including those with a lot of excess skin or a history of skin lesions such as severe varicose veins, dermatitis or keloids. It is also not appropriate for those with a thyroid disorder or who have Raynaud’s phenomenon, which is a condition that affects the blood flow to the fingers and toes.

The ideal candidates for cryolipolysis are adults who have localized pockets of fat that have not responded to diet and exercise. Those who have this type of fat in the abdomen are usually the best candidates for this treatment.

How Does Cryolipolysis Work?

Cryolipolysis, also called fat freezing or CoolSculpting, reduces localized fat deposits that don’t respond to diet and exercise. It’s FDA-approved to treat the abdomen, flanks (“love handles”), upper back, chin and inner/outer thighs. The process is quick and nonsurgical. It involves putting an applicator on the area to cryolipolysis treatment be treated. The device is cooled down to just below freezing, and this causes the fat cells in the targeted area to die off through a natural process. The skin and surrounding tissues are unaffected.

The dead fat cells are eliminated by the lymphatic system over time, leaving the area looking slimmer and more sculpted. This process is painless, and there is no damage to nerves, blood vessels or muscles in the treatment area.

Some people experience redness or bruising in the treated area, but these effects last only a short time. The procedure is considered safe by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and other experts, with one notable exception: paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). PAH occurs when cryolipolysis kills fat cells but stimulates them to grow into more cells. It’s an odd complication, and it happens in about 1 out of every 20,000 cases. Liposuction can correct PAH if it occurs.

For those who maintain a healthy lifestyle after their treatments, the fat cells will not reappear. However, if an individual goes back to their unhealthy habits, the fat cells may start growing again.

What Are the Side Effects of Cryolipolysis?

The cooling effect used in cryolipolysis is the same one that kids use on their popsicles to leave dimples — researchers discovered years ago that the cold temperature destroys fat cells without affecting skin, blood vessels or nerves. It is safe for people of all ages who want to reduce the appearance of fatty bulges.

During the hour-long treatment, you may feel pressure cryolipolysis treatment and intense cold. This sensation soon dissipates. Many patients read, work on their laptop or take a nap during the procedure. Once the treatment session is complete, your doctor will remove the applicator and massage the area. This can improve the final results.

Injured fat cells gradually disappear from the body over four to six months. This is why it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine after your treatment.

One potential side effect of cryolipolysis is paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, in which fat cells in the treated area grow larger than expected. This happens in less than 1 percent of patients and is three times more likely in men than women.

Inflammation, redness, pain or swelling at the treatment site is also a possible side effect. In rare cases, patients may develop neuropathy (weakness in the hands or arms). A case study published in Dermatologic Surgery1 found that a woman who had CoolSculpting done on her arm developed this complication because the radial nerve runs pretty superficially on the upper arm.

How Many Sessions of Cryolipolysis Will I Need?

Cryolipolysis, commonly referred to as CoolSculpting, is one of the most popular nonsurgical fat reduction treatments. It’s ideal for people who have localized fat deposits that haven’t responded to diet and exercise. The procedure involves putting a vacuum device on the target area and exposing it to cold (above freezing but lower than body temperature) for up to an hour. The targeted fat cells are unable to survive this extreme temperature, so they’re permanently destroyed. Meanwhile, surrounding tissue is left unharmed.

The injured fat cells will take 4-6 months to exit the body. In the meantime, you will begin to see results — usually as soon as three weeks after treatment — and full results are visible about four months after your first session. The number of cryolipolysis sessions you’ll need depends on how large the target area is, how much initial fat build-up there was and how much you want to reduce.

While some clients feel they need more than a single treatment in a given area, we recommend waiting 30 days between each session to allow the damaged cells to exit the body naturally. This will also make future sessions slightly more effective, as the damaged cells won’t grow back as quickly.

Because the results of cryolipolysis are gradual, it’s a good idea to have your provider take precise photos of the treated area at regular intervals to track progress. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of wearing loose, comfortable clothing to your appointments so you can see how your body is changing with each session.

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