How Cryolipolysis Works

Cryolipolysis has emerged as a popular non-invasive treatment option for reducing localized areas of fat. Its principle relies on the controlled cooling of subcutaneous fat cells to reshape body contours. The device removes heat from the skin at a constant rate rather than chilling to a particular temperature. 

While the underlying mechanism is unclear, the current theory is that chilling fat triggers inflammation of the fat cells (Panniculitis). This process results in the natural cell death of the fat cells (apoptosis). The inflammation starts three days after treatment, peaking at 30 days. Some residual inflammation will be visible up to 90 days, with the number of fat cells declining over the 90 days.

What is Lipolysis?

Lipolysis is the process by which fats are broken down in the body through enzymes and water, or hydrolysis. Lipolysis occurs in the adipose tissue stores. These stores are the fatty tissues that cushion and line our bodies and organs. Think of fats as simply stored energy.

During a Cryo-Lipolysis treatment, an anti-freeze gel membrane and cooling applicator are applied to the treatment area. The skin and fatty tissue are gently suctioned into the cooling cup, where controlled cooling is safely delivered to the treatment area. The exposure to cool temperatures is set so that it causes controlled cell death of subcutaneous fat tissue without apparent damage to the overlying skin. The dead fat cells are then naturally processed and eliminated by the body’s lymphatic system.

How much fat is lost?

A 2014 study showed an average of 7mm reduction in fat thickness two months after a single treatment (about 1.4oz/40g). A 2012 study of cryolipolysis showed an average decrease of about 4mm after two months. A second treatment had a lower reduction of an additional 1-2mm. 

Another study conducted between 2009 and 2012 of 518 subjects showed an average of 23% reduction in fat thickness measured by calipers. One patient showed a localized reduction of 2.2cm (nearly 1 inch) in fat thickness despite increasing 0.1 Kg in overall weight. Note that the FDA clearance for Cryolipolysis specifies a BMI of <=30 kg/m2.

When will clients see results?

Cryolipolysis results can be seen as early as three weeks after the treatment. The most dramatic results will be visible 3 to 4 months after the procedure. Tests indicate that the changes are noticeable between 2-7 weeks (average four weeks).

Are the results permanent?

After the age of 5, the body stops producing new fat cells. When a person gains or loses weight, the fat cells merely become bigger or smaller through storing fat. The actual number of fat cells remains the same.

Through fat reduction procedures such as Cryolipolysis, the number of fat cells within the body is reduced, so whatever fat cells you lose through the procedure, you lose forever.

Information provided by: The Body Sculpting Institute