CoolSculpting is a popular procedure for us at Beaty Facial Plastic Surgery. Dr. Mark Beaty is a member of the Zeltiq/Allergan advisory board for CoolSculpting. Plus we add weight maintenance with Dr. Laura Beaty to help our patients keep to a healthy weight after they slim their contour with the non-invasive fat reduction of CoolSculpting.
Most people have at least heard of CoolSculpting, but do you really know how CoolSculpting works? Here’s some background on the science behind the procedure and how CoolSculpting came to be.
It all came from kids eating popsicles
CoolSculpting, where fat cells are frozen and removed by the body naturally, was actually the result of an accidental discovery of sorts. Two doctors at the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Drs. Dieter Manstein and R. Rox Anderson, were doing a study that theorized children who ate lots of popsicles developed dimples in their cheeks more than children who didn’t eat lots of popsicles. Dimples are depressions in the cheeks where the muscle isn’t covered with much fat, so when the muscle contracts a dimple forms. The idea was that the cold in the popsicles somehow affected the fat cells in the cheeks. They called this Popsicle Panniculitis.
They theorized that what seems to happen in the cheeks could happen elsewhere. So, they investigated selectively freezing fat cells in a process they called cryolipolysis. CoolSculpting was born.
There are three steps involved in cryolipolysis. First, cooling is directed downward into the skin. The temperature is precisely equal to the freezing point of fat cells, while not freezing adjacent tissue cells that freeze at a higher temperature. Exposure to this freezing causes fat cell apoptosis (a natural, controlled cell death). The body sends cytokines and other inflammatory mediators to the area to gradually digest the dead fat cells in the weeks following the CoolSculpting session. Lipids from the dead fat cells are slowly released and transported by the lymphatic system to be processed and eliminated from the body, in the same manner that fat in food is eliminated.
The result? A 20 to 23% decrease in fat cells in the treatment area over the months following your CoolSculpting session.
Compared to other fat reduction methods
The cooling is a key difference between other non-invasive fat reduction methods. In those applications, either laser or high-intensity focused ultrasound energy are used. Unlike CoolSculpting’s precise, targeted freezing of only the fat cells, these other methods cause damage to surrounding tissue. This leads to burning, pain, and other issues.