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Cryolipolysis is a medical treatment used to destroy fat cells. Its principle relies on controlled cooling to near 4° Celsius (approx. 39° Fahrenheit) for the non-invasive localized reduction of fat deposits in order to reshape body contours. The exposure to cooling is set so that it causes cell death of subcutaneous fat tissue without apparent damage to the overlying skin. The procedure is billed as a nonsurgical alternative to liposuction. "Cryolipolysis" is a portmanteau of "cryogenic" and "lipolysis". Generically the process can also be known as "fat freezing".
In Europe cryolipolysis machines have been developed for suitability in aesthetic clinics and spas. Popular brands of devices include CoolSculpting, Lipoglaze, Clatuu, isoLipo, and 3d lipo.
It appears primarily applicable to limited discrete fat bulges. According to a 2015 review it shows promise with the average fat reduction, measured by calipers of about 20 percent. With the small number of people treated, clinical data remain scarce, thus it is not known how long the treatment effect will last, or when and if later treatments would be necessary to maintain the result.
Side effect data are based on a limited experience. Transient local redness, bruising and numbness of the skin are common side effects of the treatment and are expected to subside. Typically sensory deficits will subside within a month. The effect on peripheral nerves was investigated and failed to show permanent detrimental results. No serious long-lasting side effects were encountered during follow-up time of six months.
Method of action
Lipolysis procedures attempt to "dissolve" fat cells by nonsurgical means. A number of methods have been attempted, including the use of laser, ultrasound, and radio frequency current. Popsicle panniculitis is a dermatologic condition that shows that exposure to low temperatures can selectively damage subcutaneous fat while leaving skin intact. Based on the premise that fat cells are more easily damaged by cooling than skin cells, Cryolipolysis was developed to apply low temperatures to tissue via thermal conduction. In order to avoid frostbite, a specific temperature level and exposure is determined. Physicians Dieter Manstein and R. Rox Anderson at The Wellman Center at Massachusetts General Hospital originated the concept, explored it in a number of experiments on pigs, and reported their data in 2008. While the process is not fully understood, it appears that fatty tissue that is cooled below body temperature but above freezing undergoes localized cell death followed by a local inflammatory response, a local panniculitis, that gradually over the course of several months results in a reduction of the fatty tissue layer. When exposed to extreme cold, the body's usual response is to restrict circulation to keep the core of the body at the correct temperature. Cryolipolysis makes use of a powerful vacuum which adds to the inflammatory response by drawing blood up to the surface layers of the skin.
Society and culture
Cost and treatment time
Typical cost per treatment area ranges from $750 to $1500 depending on the size of the applicator and the area being treated. Treatment time for general use/application is 45–60 minutes per site. Some cryolipolysis devices have a pair of applicators that can be used simultaneously reducing the overall treatment time when treating corresponding areas such as the sides of the stomach, back of legs, and flanks.
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- Manstein, D; Laubach, H; Watanabe, K; Farinelli, W; et al. (2008). "Selective cryolysis: A novel method of non-invasive fat removal". Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 40 (9): 595–604. doi:10.1002/lsm.20719. PMID 18951424.
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- "ZELTIQ Announces European CE Mark Approval for Non-Invasive Fat Layer Reduction Using Cryolipolysis".