Fat freezing has only been around for over 12 years now after it was first approved by the FDA in 2010 in the United States. After FDA approval fat freezing quickly became a trendy new beauty treatment and became available across the world. Its a relatively new cosmetic procedure often carried out by professionals in beauty clinics, with the aim to reduce fat deposits in specific areas.
Clinicians may also refer to fat freezing as ‘cryolipolysis’, the non-invasive alternative to liposuction. As a ‘non-invasive’ alternative, the treatment is marketed as safe, and those who undergo the treatment are promised a reduction of fat of up to 40% in the targeted area. However, how safe is the treatment really?
Safety of fat freezing treatment
With fat freezing there is no fat removed during the procedure and there are no anaesthetics required. Instead, a target area of fat is suctioned into a large cup where the area is frozen. With different cryolipolysis machinery producers on the market the exact details of this process can vary quite severely. The freezing temperature ranges from -1 to -10 degrees Celsius, and the size of the area and the method in which the area is frozen differs too.
The theory behind fat freezing is that fat cells are much weaker and susceptible to freezing as other cells, such as skin, nerve and blood cells. Therefore, by freezing an area, for example the belly, only the fat cells are damaged, and the skin is left completely intact. By damaging the fat cells these cells naturally break down as a result of what is called ‘cell death’.
A significant amount of research is done into fat freezing and over and over again the procedure has proven to be relatively safe, as long as the patient doesn’t suffer from any conditions that would leave them more sensitive to cold and frost. However, there is one condition called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia that could occur as a result of fat freezing treatment. Different research outcomes have shown the likeliness of hyperplasia to be between 1 in 4,000 and 1 in 20,000, and many have called for more research to be done to get further clarity.
Because of the use of different machinery and different equipment guidelines its likely that certain processes followed with specific equipment may be more likely to cause hyperplasia. Unfortunately however, no research has been done to further support this theory.
It’s also important to note that in the UK the aesthetician is not required to have a medical degree. In order to perform cryolipolysis an individual must have a lower level diploma in anatomy and physiology and equipment training. Many aestheticians that perform the treatment perform a large range of different types of beauty treatments and may not be well trained on the specifics of fat freezing.
Does the treatment work?
Yes. Fat freezing is highly effective in permanently reducing areas of stubborn fat. Patients that treat areas that they have struggled to get rid of by working out and dieting are often the most pleased with the results, as they couldn’t have reached their goals with the more conventional methods.
Every person and every body is different, and a person’s actions following the treatment do influence results greatly. Common areas of treatment include the male chest, the chin, inner and outer thighs, flanks, abdomen, calves and under arms.