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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.[1] "Cryolipolysis" is a portmanteau of "cryogenic" and "lipolysis".[citation needed] Generically the process can also be known as "fat freezing".

In Europe cryolipolysis machines have been developed for suitability in aesthetic clinics and spas. Brands of devices include CoolSculpting,[1] Lipoglaze, Clatuu, isoLipo, and 3d lipo among others.


Cryolipolysis is used for removing certain areas of body fat that are just under the skin to contour a person.[2] Evidence supports its effectiveness at three to four months.[3]

It appears primarily applicable to limited discrete fat bulges.[4] According to a 2015 review it shows promise with the average fat reduction, measured by calipers of about 20 percent.[2] 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 effects[edit]

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.[4] Typically sensory deficits will subside within a month. The effect on peripheral nerves was investigated and failed to show permanent detrimental results.[5] No serious long-lasting side effects were encountered during follow-up time of six months.

Method of action[edit]

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.[1] Popsicle panniculitis is a dermatologic condition that shows that exposure to low temperatures can selectively damage subcutaneous fat while leaving skin intact.[2][6] 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.[7][8] 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,[7] that gradually over the course of several months results in a reduction of the fatty tissue layer.[5] 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[edit]

Cost and treatment time[edit]

Typical cost per treatment area varies depending on location. Price in the US ranges from $750 to $1500,[9] with UK prices about 750 pounds per area to be treated.[10] 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.[11]

Regulatory approval[edit]

In September 2009, Zeltiq received EU CE Mark approval for their cryolipolysis device.[12] In September 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the cryolipolysis device and procedure.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Krueger N, Mai SV, Luebberding S, Sadick NS (26 June 2014). "Cryolipolysis for noninvasive body contouring: clinical efficacy and patient satisfaction.". Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 7: 201–5. doi:10.2147/CCID.S44371. PMC 4079633Freely accessible. PMID 25061326. 
  2. ^ a b c Ingargiola, MJ.; Motakef, S.; Chung, MT.; Vasconez, HC.; Sasaki, GH. (June 2015). "Cryolipolysis for fat reduction and body contouring: safety and efficacy of current treatment paradigms". Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 135 (6): 1581–90. doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000001236. PMC 4444424Freely accessible. PMID 26017594. 
  3. ^ Derrick, CD; Shridharani, SM; Broyles, JM (June 2015). "The Safety and Efficacy of Cryolipolysis: A Systematic Review of Available Literature.". Aesthetic Surgery Journal. 35: 830–6. doi:10.1093/asj/sjv039. PMID 26038367. 
  4. ^ a b Nelson, AA; Wasserman, D; Avram, MM (2009). "Cryolipolysis for reduction of excess adipose tissue". Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. 28 (4): 244–9. doi:10.1016/j.sder.2009.11.004. PMID 20123423. 
  5. ^ a b Coleman, SR; Sachdeva, K; Egbert, BM; Preciado, J; et al. (2009). "Clinical efficacy of noninvasive cryolipolysis and its effects on peripheral nerves" (PDF). Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 33 (4): 482–8. doi:10.1007/s00266-008-9286-8. PMID 19296153. 
  6. ^ Avram, MM; Harry, RS (2009). "Cryolipolysis for subcutaneous fat layer reduction". Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 41 (10): 703–8. doi:10.1002/lsm.20864. PMID 20014262. 
  7. ^ a b 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. 
  8. ^ Zelickson, B; Egbert, BM; Preciado, J; Allison, J; et al. (2009). "Cryolipolysis for noninvasive fat cell destruction: Initial results from a pig model". Dermatologic Surgery. 35 (10): 1462–70. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.2009.01259.x. PMID 19614940. 
  9. ^ "Can you freeze your fat away?". 24 December 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "CoolSculpting is only cold-based treatment cleared by US FDA for fat loss". 21 March 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016. 
  11. ^ Classys
  12. ^ "ZELTIQ Announces European CE Mark Approval for Non-Invasive Fat Layer Reduction Using Cryolipolysis".