Believe it or not, a pair of Harvard scientists noticed that children developed “popsicle panniculitis dimples” after sucking on cold Popsicles for too long. They thought about how to apply that to other parts of the body … and CoolSculpting was born. Cryolipolysis is the term used for the effect that cold temperature has on sensitive fat cells, and it basically means that cold is used to destroy fat cells.
CoolSculpting is a well-studied nonsurgical fat reduction technique that involves freezing discrete areas of fat below the skin to the point that some of the cells are destroyed. At the same time, it protects the skin in the treatment area so that it is not damaged.
CoolSculpting Areas of Treatment
CoolScultping was cleared by the FDA for fat reduction in the flanks (love handles) in 2010 and has since been cleared for many different areas of the body, including:
- Under the jawline
- Under the chin
- Bra fat on the back
- Upper arms
- Back fat
- Under the buttocks (banana rolls)
- Thighs (upper, outer, distal)
You can learn more about CoolSculpting and other body contouring options in our related blog post.
How Does the CoolSculpting Process Work?
During a CoolSculting procedure, an applicator is placed over the target area, and the cooling process begins. The area becomes cold and then quickly numbs, so the process is very comfortable.
The treatment takes either 35 or 45 minutes, depending on the area. We have 2 CoolSculpting machines at Mountain West Plastic Surgery, so we can treat 2 areas at a time, which cuts overall treatment time in half. This two-at-a-time treatment is often called “Dual Sculpting,” and we are the only practice in the area to offer it.
Once the treatment is over and the applicator is removed, the treated area is massaged for a few minutes to make the treatment even more effective by essentially traumatizing the fat cells. Over the next 6 to 12 weeks, about 20% of the treated fat cells go through a process called cell death or “apoptosis,” and your body eliminates them. These fat cells do not return. Most people have the best results with 2 treatment sessions for each area.
When CoolSculpting was first FDA approved, I co-authored a study reviewing 528 consecutive CoolSculpting patients in our practice over 2 years. We did 2,700 CoolSculpting treatment cycles and had 3 cases of mild to moderate persistent pain symptoms and no other complications. We had a very high patient satisfaction rate. (There is normal temporary numbness, itching, mild swelling and bruising that can be expected right after the treatment.)
Since then, tens of thousands of treatment cycles have been performed, and many more studies have been published on this very effective nonsurgical fat reduction device.
What You Should Know About CoolSculpting
A few important points:
- Coolsculpting does not replace a tummy tuck or surgery for loose skin—it does NOT tighten loose skin; it reduces the fat cells beneath the skin.
- Fat will not return to other areas in greater amounts. A common myth is that the fat will return to other parts of the body after CoolSculpting—this is simply not true. Fat will “return” to all of us if we gain weight—and it will return to wherever our fat cells live! The fat cells that are destroyed will not come back, but the remaining fat cells can still get bigger if we gain weight.
- Do not do this at home!! Trying to freeze your fat at home with ice or any other method is a sure way to create frostbite and ice burns. This is a precise technique designed and controlled by the FDA that is created to protect the skin while it freezes the subcutaneous fat.