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Cryolipolysis: How It Works and What Are the Risks

Sep. 08, 2021

Cryolipolysis is an FDA-approved procedure that involves cryolipolysis, the freezing of fat cells that do not respond to traditional exercise and dietary habits. It is also sometimes used to treat credible sources of lipomas. Technically, the procedure is non-invasive, which means no surgery is involved.

Cryolipolysis: How It Works and What Are the Risks


How it works

Cryolipolysis is an effective, non-surgical treatment for reducing body fat. It is ideal for treating pockets or bulges of soft, squeezable body fat. After a fat freezing treatment, you can significantly reduce pockets or bulges of fat.

Because fat cells are sensitive to low temperatures, triglycerides will turn from liquid to solid at 5 degrees Celsius, crystallize and age, then induce apoptosis of fat cells without damaging other subcutaneous cells (such as epidermal cells, melanocytes, somatic cells, dermal tissue and nerve fibers).

Each person is different and results may vary. During the treatment, fat cells are frozen, causing the cells to crystallize and then die. Your body naturally removes the dead cells through the normal clearance process of the lymphatic system.


Risks and Side Effects

This does not mean that Cryolipolysis is completely free of side effects. While this does not mean that it will cause long-term pain and discomfort, it is something that is possible. After the procedure, you may experience pain, itching and swelling. The level of pain can vary from one treatment area to another, with the abdomen being the most vulnerable. Common side effects after Cryolipolysis include:

A pulling sensation in the treated area

During CoolSculpting, your surgeon will place a roll of fat between two cooling plates on the part of your body that is being treated. This can create a pulling or tugging sensation.

Temporary redness and sensitivity of the treated area

These are caused by exposure to cold temperatures. They usually go away on their own after a few weeks. These side effects occur because Cryolipolysis affects the skin in a similar way to frostbite, in this case targeting the fatty tissue beneath the skin. However, Cryolipolysis is safe and will not give you frostbite.

Paradoxical fat gain in the treated area

A very rare but serious side effect of Cryolipolysis is paradoxical fat growth. It occurs most often in men. This means that the fat cells in the treated area become larger rather than smaller. It is not fully understood why this happens.

Cryolipolysis: How It Works and What Are the Risks

Reducing discomfort

Discuss this with your doctor. They may also perform massage to help improve the efficacy of the fat freezing process while limiting side effects.

This procedure usually does not provide prescription pain medication because it is non-surgical. No anesthetics are used either. However, if you have any pain or swelling after the procedure, your doctor may recommend that you take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication. Always consult your doctor before taking any medication.

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