Does Fat Freezing Really Work?

Cryolipolysis, also known as Fat-Freezing or Ice body sculpting is a non-surgical treatment for the reduction of fat. This particular method has been around for over 7 years now. The way this works is the application of increased cold, which then starts the action of programmed cell death/apoptosis. The aim is to target and destroy subcutaneous fat cells with the exceptional coldness.

The Fat-Freezing section of the aesthetic world has continued to grow as more treatment options have become available and some of the competing mechanisms have been modernised, allowing development in the types, and amount of businesses providing the treatment.

Devices in the UK are varied in their abilities and technology for the art of body contouring. Some are only made up of cryo technology, and others can combine the freezing with other technology such as;

• Radio frequency

• Ultrasound cavitation

• Acoustic waves

Some of the following devises are popular with those performing Cryolipolysis; Coolsculpting, Cooltech, CTN, LipoGlaze, PROSHOCK ICE etc.

Effectiveness and Safety

Without damaging any of the surrounding skin, Fat- Freezing cools the targeted fat cells in the subcutaneous tissue which causes lipolysis (break down of fat cells). Fat cells are more exposed to energy extraction, so once they are frozen they become part of a controlled cell death. When this happens, the adipocytes (fat cells) collapse which allows lipids to be released and expelled from the body gradually over 2-4 months.

Patients are usually enticed by the idea of being able to get rid of unwanted fat, without the need to follow a diet plan, exercise regime or have to go through an invasive surgery.

Unfortunately, it is now said that the aesthetic industry is becoming disinterested in Cryolipolysis as more problems have been reported.

Problems with Cryolipolysis.

Most risks uncovered with fat-freezing are usually seen to be mild and compare to many cosmetic body contouring treatments. The risks include; redness, swelling, discomfort, bruising, tenderness and altered sensation.

It had been recognised during post-market surveillance, that some patients experienced “severe pain” during treatment as well as rare cases of hyperpigmentation and first or second degree burns. Following these reports, the user manual and user training was then revised and monitored to make the risks less likely.

Even though the devices that have been around for some time have been evolved and problems decreased, the new and more modern devices are still likely to have some issues. This is the reason for post-market monitoring, to make sure any problems detected are eliminated as soon as possible.

Delayed Pain

It has been known that some patients experience delayed onset pain from treatment from 2 weeks up to 1 month post treatment. This unfortunately is not an uncommon side effect after Cryolipolysis. The pain itself also limits the patient with numerous activities from 3 days to 11 days, the pain is described as a deep burning, stabbing and beng tender to touch, but thankfully leaves no lasting effects or long-term issues.

Uneven results

Uneven results can be a relatively common side effect in fat-freezing especially when treating areas that are opposite (bilateral) to one another. This makes it easier for the patient to see the difference between the two areas. Treating the area again can be a way to resolve the problem and achieve contentment, however, patients should be told about this side effect as a matter of course. Unfortunately indentations and ledging, which are caused through excessive treatment, are not easily corrected by further treatment, but may need corrective surgery to solve the issue at hand.

Nerve Damage

There have been many records to show that patients have encountered a loss of sensation in the treated area, for at least a few weeks. In one case a patient was reported to have had a loss of feeling in his abdomen for 6 months after treatment.

Burns and Frostbite

In unregulated and unsupervised providers of treatments such as beauty clinics and salons, there is a running risk of ice burns and frostbite. This is why it is always better to seek a trained professional when having this sort of treatment. Not all providers of Cryolipolysis are fully trained and are qualified to be able to perform this treatment.

Finding the right treatment

When considering Fat-freezing treatment, it is important as a patient to do research and find the right clinic before you go ahead. The patient will need to make sure that the practitioner is fully qualified and that the treatment will be taking place in an established clinic. Although there are many beauty salons that advertise the treatment and do have the equipment for Fat-freezing, most of the issues with people reporting burns and frostbite come from beauty salons, due to the lack of training and supervision. For most procedures it comes down to training, experience and skill. It is also vital that the practitioner makes certain that the patient is suitable for the treatment to avoid any potential side effects.

Dr Ayham Al-Ayoubi: Cryolipolysis is still a popular and effective method of body contouring. However, there are still many improvements to be made to both the process and the technology. With this in mind, there are also many other methods when it comes to body contouring such as; Smartlipo Laser, Velashape Radio frequency treatment and many more depending on the preference and suitability of the patient.


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