When it’s a case of cold versus fat, the latter loses. That’s the idea behind cryolysis, or fat freezing. It has some of the effects of liposuction, without surgery. There are other non-surgical ways to reduce fat, such as acoustic wave therapy and ultrasound, but cryolysis possesses more benefits. Most patients need only one or two treatment sessions, while other non-invasive fat reduction procedures require several treatments. Cryolysis has a much lower number of adverse effects – very few – and pain associated with it compared to other modalities, according to a study published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigative Dermatology. It also had the highest patient satisfaction record among the procedures.
How It Works
Also known as cryolipolysis or lipocryolysis, and informally called “body sculpting,” cryolysis targets fat cells right under the skin. While extreme low temperatures kill this subcutaneous fat, they don’t harm the skin. The cryolysis device resembles a vacuum cleaner. It consists of a cup-like applicator drawing the skin and tissue between two plates, which freeze the fat. No local anesthetic is needed. The fat cells eventually die off and are excreted. Treatment lasts about 45 minutes to 1 hour per site, followed by a few minutes of massage.
Cryolysis cannot eliminate fat cells deep under the skin. For that, liposuction – a much more risky procedure – is necessary.
Cryolysis is particularly effective in reducing small fat bulges in certain areas. These include:
- Flanks – the area between the hips and ribs, often referred to as “love handles.” Most patients require just one treatment for flank fat removal.
- Back – usually requires two treatment sessions.
- Inner and outer thighs – usually requires two treatment sessions.
Fat freezing is also done on arms and legs. Men with gynecomastia, or enlarged breasts, may want to use cryolysis to remove fat tissue.
Any cryolysis side effects are mild and temporary. The following symptoms may result from the procedure:
Some patients may experience slight pain, which is easily treated with over-the-counter analgesics. Patients can resume normal activities as soon as their treatment session is over.
Because cryolysis is non-invasive, there are no issues with anesthesia, infections or the type of complications common in surgery.
People with certain conditions probably should not undergo fat freezing. Pregnant women should avoid cryolysis, as should anyone with dermatological issues or injuries in the proposed treatment area. If you have ever had an extreme reaction to cold, you should forego cryolysis. This is a cosmetic procedure, not a form of weight reduction. People dealing with obesity should undergo an actual weight loss procedure.
Patience is a Virtue
You won’t walk out of the office after cryolysis treatment with a newly sculpted body. It takes time for the fat cells to die off. Within three months, you should notice a 20 to 25 percent fat reduction in the treated areas. If you require two sessions, they are spaced about two months apart. That time period is necessary for inflammation from the first treatment to completely resolve. The final results are evident about eight months after your initial treatment. Of course, many people notice significant slimming a lot sooner. Keep the time period in mind if you want to show off your new figure at the beach or a special event.
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