//Cryolipolysis: Freezing your Body Fat
Fat to fit

Cryolipolysis: Freezing your Body Fat

Fat, big, bulky, heavy, plump, inflated are some of the most common terms you will hear from people referring to overweight individuals these days. Today, fat shaming has become one of the most repeated and often ignored practices by many.

There was a time when being overweight or obesity was not the stigma. Actually, it defined the beauty and wealth of an individual in several societies throughout the world. Back then when food was scarce, being overweight was considered as the sign of power and prosperity.

So, when it all changed? Well, long back various experts recognized obesity as the root of various health maladies. The relationship of obesity and various other diseases was mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus dating back to 15th century Egypt. Even, some of the Indian Physicians like Charaka, Sushruta and Vagbhata linked obesity to diabetes in 2nd century B.C. Hippocrates also said: “Corpulency is not only a disease but the harbinger of others”.

Fast forwarding to this very day, being obese is considered as the humiliation and embarrassment leading to the state of discomfort and depression among the affected individuals. Along with this, the association of obesity with sundry of diseases is enough to force individuals towards various weight reducing techniques.

Making fun of obesity

Recently, the desire to reduce or reshape the unwanted fat has gained immense popularity. Among many, cryolipolysis is the most recent weight reducing techniques and it is probably the safest one with fewer complications.

Cryolipolysis: The Birth of a Modern Fat Reducing Technique

The first study which showed that adipose tissue was sensitive to cold injury was done by Hochsinger in 1902. After this, several other pieces of research have been carried out on fat tissues which eventually lead to the development of cryolipolysis technique. Basically, cryolipolysis is a novel non-invasive method for fat reduction which was introduced by Manstein and his team in 2007. In this, fat cells are destroyed by a controlled thermal reduction wherein, adipose tissues are exposed to below normal and above freezing temperatures. This induces apoptosis in fat cell causing its death.

How does it work?

Firstly, it is a completely different technique than others which are used for fat reduction. Its principle is based on the fact that adipocytes are more susceptible to low temperatures than other cells. Accurate exposure of adipocytes to cold temperatures results in its death which is then engulfed and digested by macrophages within the body.

No significant changes in fat are seen immediately after the treatment; however, it stimulates an inflammatory process which can be observed within 3 days after treatment. Around 14-30 days, reduction in fat can be observed as macrophages and other phagocytes digest the fat cells after its death. Inflammation decreases after 4 weeks of the treatment and with this, the fat volume also decreases. After 2-3 months, inflammatory process decreases and interlobular septa are thickened. By this time, fat volume located on the treated area is significantly decreased as most of the volume is now accounted by septa.

Different Body Areas on which Cryolipolysis can be used
Source: Krueger, N., Mai, S. V., Luebberding, S., & Sadick, N. S. (2014). Cryolipolysis for noninvasive body contouring: clinical efficacy and patient satisfaction. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 7, 201-5.

Straightway, after the treatment patient can be discharged and is allowed to follow his/her daily routines. Total number of treatment cycle depends upon the treatment area, as treating flanks usually requires only one treatment. While good results for back and the thighs can be achieved with two or more treatments. Each treatment cycles are spaced for 8 weeks to complete the inflammatory process.

Who is a good candidate?

To know whether it’ll be beneficial for you or not totally depends on what type of fat you have. There are two types of fat i.e., visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is located under your muscle and is firm, whereas, subcutaneous fat is present just under your skin which is soft and pinchable.

Lifestyle modification, exercise and good eating habits are the recommended option for reducing visceral fat as it disappears twice as fast as subcutaneous fat. Many options are available to reduce the subcutaneous fat like surgery, liposuction, body contouring techniques and cryolipolysis. Cryolipolysis is the non-surgical and risk-free option.

The Effectiveness

Belly reduced fat

Its efficacy has been studied in several studies involving humans. One study from 2009 reported 20.4% and 25.5% reduction in fat layer after 2 and 6 months respectively after the treatment.  Recent studies showed that certain body sites at which cryolipolysis was most effective were flank, back and abdomen. In the same study, 73% of patients were satisfied and 82% agreed to recommend cryolipolysis to their friends. In another study conducted on 528 patients, only 6 were dissatisfied with their result and 4 of these 6 patients were satisfied after the second session.


Right after the treatment some side effects like erythema (redness of skin) or edema (swelling) can occur; this may last for up to 72 hours. Additionally, decreased sensation on the treated region is also common. Furthermore, bruising can also be seen. All of these side effects are resolved within a few weeks after the treatment.

No ulcerations, blistering, bleeding, scarring, hematomas (solid swelling of clotted blood within tissues), paresthesias (an abnormal sensation of tingling or picking), skin pigmentation changes or infections have been observed. After the treatment, no significant changes were reported in the patient’s triglyceride levels or liver function tests.

Bottom Line

With the emergence of several techniques like laser light, radiofrequency, acoustic waves, surgery or chemicals to achieve the goal of reducing fat; cryolipolysis truly stands out. All these techniques differ from each other in terms of their mechanism of action, response rate, side effects, pain/discomfort and the number of cycles needed. Among all cryolipolysis is considered both safe and effective with a high patient satisfaction rate of 73% which is more than the high intensity focused ultrasound and acoustic wave therapy. Cryolipolysis is also safe for all the skin types and is ideal for all those individuals who are realistic with their treatment outcomes and are ready to maintain the results with a healthy lifestyle.

Obese people

Although in some cases certain side effects are expected but they normally resolve within 4 weeks without any treatment. Any complications associated with cryolipolysis are rare and if occurs, it resolves as time progresses. The cycles or session for cryolipolysis is not restricted to one per individual, as it can vary depending on person to person, fat type and region to be treated. So whether to opt for cryolipolysis or not entirely depends upon you. Before choosing any option, it is recommended to consult your physician for your desired goals and best options available to achieve that goal.

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