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All You Need to Know about Fat Freezing

Aging. There are a lot of things that come with aging, however, those extra pounds that age can add to the frame can be frustrating, particularly when they do not respond to a healthy diet and exercise regimen. Some people may find it even more difficult to remove fat from one part of their body, no matter how hard they try.

The good news is that there are non-invasive ways to get rid of stubborn fat areas for a more sculpted silhouette.

Due to all the risks associated with liposuction and other more invasive fat removal procedures, it is not surprising that people often look for safer alternatives. Among such safer alternatives is fat freezing.

What is Fat Freezing?

Fat freezing, better known as cryolipolysis is a relatively new method for fat reduction1.

Even with proper exercise and diet, some fat deposits can be difficult to eliminate. This procedure can be helpful for people looking for a targeted loss of stubborn fat.

Fat freezing uses cold temperatures to permanently remove the fat cells. It is a non-invasive procedure and induces fat loss safely without damaging the surrounding structures2, 3.

Since fat cells are more temperature-sensitive than skin, they will experience cell death while the surface of the skin remains unaffected. The fat freezing procedure targets specific areas of the body using cooling applicators to crystallize and kill off the targeted fat cells.

In terms of cryolipolysis or fat freezing, CoolSculpting is the number one name in the fat freezing game. But before we dive into the details of what CoolSculpting can do for stubborn fats, let’s first begin to understand the different types of fat that exist in our bodies.


The basics of body fat – visceral and subcutaneous

Body fat is scientifically known as adipose tissue. Fat is found in almost every organ of your body. As such, fat is an important component of normal body functioning.

Adipose tissue is the loose connective tissue composed of cells known as adipocytes. You can think of them as small packets of bubble wrap with the capacity of filling up with more fat. Adipose tissue has various functions in our body which includes4:

●      Storage of energy

●      Productions of hormones

●      Insulation of the body to protect from heat and cold

●      Protection of internal organs

One way of classifying body fat is based on its location and distribution. Body fat is broadly classified as

●      Subcutaneous fat or subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT)

●      Visceral fat or visceral adipose tissue (VAT)

The distribution of fat in the body is not as simple as you think. There are many physiological, psychosocial, and clinical factors that influence the amount and location of fat distribution throughout the human body.

Subcutaneous fat or subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT)

Subcutaneous adipose tissue refers to the fat tissue deposited just below your skin. You can usually feel and visibly see this kind of fat. For example, fat that pools around the arms or thighs. One easy way to identify subcutaneous fat would be to pinch it. If you’re able to pinch your fat, it is highly likely that the fat is subcutaneous.

Subcutaneous adipose tissue also plays a major role in insulation. However, excess amounts of subcutaneous adipose tissue can be a health risk5.

Visceral fat or visceral adipose tissue (VAT)

Visceral adipose tissue is also called hidden or deep fat or intra-abdominal fat. This is because it cannot be visibly seen directly from the outside.

The visceral adipose tissue surrounds and envelops the internal organs. This is a natural way of storing other excess fat and also to protect vital abdominal organs6.

Visceral adipose tissue has been associated with a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even dementia7. It is also the main reason for the typical pot belly seen in men.

The science behind freezing fat

Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct targeted fat removal using cryolipolysis, CoolSculpting is a good option for those looking to achieve a sleeker silhouette.

The process literally means cold (cryo) fat (lipo) destruction (lysis). Cold temperatures can damage surrounding skin but not the subcutaneous fat layer since fat freezes at a higher temperature.

But what does science say about fat freezing?

Various clinical trials and research have been done on cryolipolysis and it has shown to be a promising procedure for non-invasive fat removal. It has also presented itself as a compelling alternative to liposuction and other, more invasive methods8.

In every study that evaluated clinical outcomes, the reduction of fat volume in each of the treated areas was significant. Although the outcomes varied greatly based on treatment site, the average reduction in caliper measurements ranged from 14.67% to 28.5%.

After the death of the fat cells, all that remains is cellular debris. As a result, the body's own waste disposal system gradually eliminates these dead fat cells. This process typically takes weeks to months rather than occurring all at once. Researchers have found that it can take up to three months for fat cells to be fully eliminated from the body.

Fat freezing, in general, utilizes the vulnerability of fat cells to cooling as compared to surrounding skin cells. By doing so, fat freezing is able to achieve a safe, effective and non-invasive fat removal without damaging the surrounding skin structures.

How CoolSculpting uses this technology (Cryolipolysis) to remove fat

CoolSculpting is a branded and commercial form of cryolipolysis. Each treatment can see a permanent reduction in fat cells of up to 27%* in the treated area.  

The most popular treatment locations to remove the subcutaneous adipose tissue are:

●       Abdomen

●       Armpit 

●       Back and flank

●       Hips and waist

●       Inner and outer thighs

●       Knees

●       Arms


As mentioned, CoolSculpting utilizes the principle of fat freezing to achieve the loss of fat in targeted areas.

You are usually asked to either lie down or sit comfortably during the procedure. This depends on the location of the target area.

An applicator is then placed on the specific treatment area. Some devices use vacuum suction for better access to target a specific site. The size of the applicators can vary based on the location and size of the target site.

Once the applicator is in place, it then uses temperatures between −10°C and −13°C to freeze the fat cells. Usually, a single procedure can take from 25 to 35 minutes. However, the duration can vary based on the location and the size of the target site.

CoolSculpting targets the subcutaneous adipose tissue which refers to the pinchable fat that lies under the skin. However, visceral fat cannot be treated with non-invasive fat removal procedures such as fat freezing.

Who is it suitable for?

While it is not a weight loss treatment, CoolSculpting is used to hone in on areas of the body that can be tricky to address with diet and exercise alone.

This procedure is usually meant for people who are invested in their overall health and wellbeing and are just looking to target specific areas of fat that they are unable to get rid of. For people looking to contour their mid-section, shrink pockets of fat around your lower back or bra area, procedures like CoolSculpting can address this.

Fat freezing procedures can even be used as a final push to slim stubborn areas after a healthy weight loss program has gotten you to your goal weight.

The DualSculpting option offered at Ensoul Body Medical Clinic also allows two CoolSculpting machines to be used to treat two areas at once. This can greatly reduce the overall treatment time for the patient.

What is the downtime required?

As mentioned above, CoolSculpting is a non-invasive fat removal treatment that requires no downtime. Patients are able to resume their daily activities immediately after the treatment.

This unlike liposuction, another well-studied option for fat removal, while it is a surgical procedure, liposuction requires longer treatment time and has a period of downtime, as you would expect when having any form of surgery.

How long does it take to work?

As with most aesthetic treatments, the results of CoolSculpting are not instantaneous. However, you should begin to notice a visible difference from around four weeks post treatment. Immediately after the treatment, the body will begin the process of eliminating the targeted fat. The process will continue to take place over the course of 12 weeks.

The bottom line

Weight loss can be achieved naturally for a specific duration. However, for stubborn pockets of fat which refuse to go, a safe alternative is required.

While liposuction is still a popular method, there are many risks. This is why non-invasive and relatively risk-free procedures like CoolSculpting have increased.