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Cryolipolysis: Can You Really Freeze Fat? Hero

Cryolipolysis: Can You Really Freeze Fat?

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If you’re interested in cosmetic procedures and how they can rejuvenate, revitalize, and transform your body, you’ve probably heard of cryolipolysis. Commonly known as CoolSculpting, cryolipolysis claims to significantly reduce body fat without ever needing to go under the knife. For many, the thought of a non-invasive procedure with minimal discomfort is an attractive option, especially with the incredible results it wields. But is it legitimate?

a model from the chest down holding some of their stomach fat in their one hand and their thigh in the other

Body Fat 101

There are 2 types of fat in our bodies; subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat is the type that makes up our love handles, rolls, and other visible areas on our bodies. Visceral fat is the internal fat that lines our organs and is often associated with diabetes and heart disease. 

Cryolipolysis targets subcutaneous fat, so for this article, when fat is mentioned, we’re referring to subcutaneous fat. This type of fat exists to store energy, protect your muscles and bones, acts as a passageway for nerves and blood vessels, insulates the body, and attaches the skin to the muscles and bones. The amount of subcutaneous fat you have on your body can increase in a few different ways. These include:

Having too much subcutaneous fat will classify you as overweight or obese, depending on your body mass index (BMI). If your body stores too much of it, it can lead to many different health risks, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

Can You Get Rid of It?

The only way to successfully get rid of subcutaneous fat yourself without surgical or cosmetic procedures is by strict diet and exercise. Consuming fewer calories than you burn coupled with regular aerobic activity, like walking or cycling, can help you lose subcutaneous fat.

However, diet and exercise is often a slow and steady process. Many individuals would like to tone their body and reduce fat for quick results, for which cosmetic procedures like cryolipolysis become an attractive option.

a patient having coolsculpting performed on their stomach

What is Cryolipolysis & How Does it Work?

Cryolipolysis is a medical procedure that can significantly reduce excess fat cells beneath the skin. During the process, your CoolSculpting technician uses a specialized tool to cool parts of your body down where you’d like to see a reduction in subcutaneous fat. The device cools the body to freezing temperature, which freezes and kills fat cells. The dead fat cells are then flushed out of your body through your liver during the following few weeks.

During the procedure, a vacuum-style applicator is placed on the treatment area to bring the skin into contact with the cooling panels. You may feel a cold sensation for a few minutes that should subside, as the treatment provides an anesthetic effect. The entire process can take up to an hour, depending on the size of the treatment area.

Cryolipolysis is a safe medical treatment that effectively reduces fat cells in any given treatment area by 20 to 25 percent. Many patients choose CoolSculpting over traditional fat reduction procedures, like liposuction, because it’s nonsurgical, non-invasive, and requires very little if any recovery time.

Infographic explaining how cryolipolysis or coolsculpting works

How Was Cryolipolysis Discovered?

Cryolipolysis translates into “cold fat destruction.” Cryo, meaning cold, lipo, meaning fat, and lysis, meaning destruction. The procedure was discovered, in part, by children eating popsicles. The co-founders of the procedure were interested to learn more about something called “cold-induced fat necrosis,” which occurred when children ate popsicles and inadvertently left them resting on the cheek for several minutes. The children’s skin samples showed that the fat became inflamed, but the overlying skin remained normal, which meant that fat could be more sensitive to cold than other tissues. 

Because of these findings, the co-founders tested a cooling device on pigs in 2007. The device was used to see if cold could selectively destroy fat cells, which provided positive results. The procedure resulted in about a ½ inch of fat reduction in the pigs where they were treated without damaging the overlying skin. In 2010, the first cryolipolysis technology was approved for human use as a treatment for love handles. Shortly after, other parts of the body were cleared for treatment, including the thighs, belly, buttocks, and chin.

Who is a Candidate for Cryolipolysis?

Cryolipolysis is a safe and effective treatment for fat loss that offers significant results without the downtime of surgery. However, keep in mind that cryolipolysis is designed for fat reduction, not weight reduction. The procedure is not intended to replace a good diet and exercise but rather to supplement a healthy lifestyle change. It also cannot target visceral fat, so it won’t improve your overall health. 

The ideal candidate is typically close to their goal weight but has stubborn areas of fat that are hard to get rid of diet and exercise alone. 

Suppose you’d like to explore CoolSculpting as a stepping stone to your dream body. In that case, Zulu Medical Cosmetics can provide a thorough consultation to ensure you have access to everything you need to feel like the best version of you.


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  • Written by Dr. Jeane Lombard

    Dr. Lombard was born and raised in South Africa. In 1998, she graduated from the University of Pretoria with her medical degree. She worked as a physician in London, England from 1998 to 2002. In 2002, Dr. Lombard made the decision to move to Canada. She became a licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada that same year, allowing her to practice medicine in Saskatoon, Canmore, and Calgary.

    Dr. Lombard has been working as a medical professional for over 21 years, and in that time, she has discovered a deep passion for the cosmetic side of medicine. Today, she specializes in cosmetic procedures, boasting 13 years in the industry.
    With deep compassion for her patients and a professional commitment to exemplary care, Dr. Lombard prioritizes health and safety over all else. When she isn’t hard at work, Dr. Lombard likes to spend time with friends in the mountains, enjoying good food and fine wine.

    More Articles by Dr. Jeane Lombard


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