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Body Contouring/Slimming - Wikipedia

Cryolipolysis is a medical treatment used to destroy fat cells by freezing. The functional principle is the controlled application of cooling, within the temperature range of +5 to −5 °C, for the non-invasive, localized reduction of fat deposits, in order to reshape the contours of the body. The degree of exposure to cooling causes the apoptosis (cell death) ofsubcutaneous fat tissue, without apparent damage to the overlying skin.

As a medical procedure, cryolipolysis is a nonsurgical alternative to liposuction.[1] Etymologically, the term cryolipolysis (freezing of fat) is a portmanteau word derived from the conflation of cryogenic and lipolysis.[citation needed] In Europe, specific-design cryolipolysis machines are used in aesthetic clinics and spas; the brands of machine include CoolSculpting.[1]


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.

Research on mechanism[edit]

Lipolysis procedures attempt to "dissolve" fat cells by nonsurgical means. A number of methods have been attempted, including the use of laserultrasound, and radio frequencycurrent.[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 are determined, such as 60 minutes at −5 °C (23 °F).[7]

Initial studies to establish cryolipolysis methods were performed on pigs.[8][9] 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 called local panniculitis[8] that gradually over the course of several months results in a reduction of the fatty tissue layer.[5] When exposed to cold, the body's usual response is to restrict circulation to keep the core of the body at the correct temperature.

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,[10] with UK prices about £750 per area to be treated.[11] 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.

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

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