Posted by James Banich, M.D.
March 04, 2016
As I sit at my desk watching the snow melt, I wait for the inevitable warmth of spring to kick in. Even though many of us dread cold winter months, who knew that freezing cold may have benefits?
Did you know that freezing also can make fat cells go away? Cryolipolysis, also known as “CoolSculpting,” utilizes an interesting piece of science that uses cooling to permanently get rid of stubborn fat cells.
Fat cells in your body freeze at a higher temperature than your other cells. The procedure uses controlled cooling to crystallize, or freeze, about 20 to 25 percent of the fat cells in the area you want treated. Your body naturally clears these cells within weeks. It is an effective way to eliminate stubborn fat cells that have been resistant to diet and exercise.
During your procedure, we attach a cooling applicator to the targeted area. The number of treatments required depends on the number and size of the areas being targeted. During treatment, you may feel slight discomfort at first, because the machine produces a vacuum suction sensation and intense coolness. After five to seven minutes, the feeling will dissipate. Each site is treated for a one-hour cycle. During your procedure, you can read a book or magazine, play on your phone or take a quick nap.
The results appear subtly over the period of a couple of weeks. Most people see full results three months after treatment. The fat cell density never comes back, because the treated fat cells are gone for good — the crystalized fat cells are cleared by your immune system. After a treatment, you will have no incision, restrictions, downtime or scaring. You will have minimal discomfort at the treated site(s). It is safe for you to drive yourself to and from your treatment.
As a plastic surgeon, I am quite conservative, especially when it comes to cosmetic surgery. With cosmetic surgery, I have to create an injury to get a better-looking result for you. While cosmetic surgery is safe, there are inherent risks in any surgery, including a risk of bleeding, infection and a poor reaction to anesthesia. These risks need to be weighed carefully against the benefits. For the past couple of years, I’ve been investigating procedures with minimal downtime and little risk for patients. Cryolipolysis is an effective way to get the results you want with no surgical risks, and it is significantly less expensive than cosmetic surgery.
It is a good option for men and women who are hesitant to consider cosmetic surgery but still would like to improve their looks. The most commonly targeted areas are the thighs, lower back, belly and flanks.
James Banich, M.D., is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.