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Ask the ExpertBeauty

Ask the Expert: Cryolipolysis®

What is Cryolipolysis?

Cryolipolysis® is the non-invasive cooling of adipose tissue to induce lipolysis—the breaking down of fat cells—to reduce body fat without damage to other tissues. Lipids from the fat cells are slowly released and transported by the lymphatic system to be processed and eliminated, much like that of fat from food. Based on the research findings of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the investigators concluded “prolonged, controlled local tissue cooling can induce selective fat cell reduction and subsequent loss of subcutaneous fat, without damaging the overlying skin.” This discovery is called “selective Cryolipolysis®.”

What treatments use Cryolipolysis?

CoolSculpting® treatments use the science of Cryolipolysis® to reduce fat on the thighs, abdomen, arms, buttocks, bra bulge and also under the chin.

Why is this so different from other methods of fat removal?

Cryolipolysis® is different from other methods of fat removal primarily because they involve necrotic cell death by damaging fat with surgery, heat, high-intensity focused ultrasound, or chemical injections. Each approach poses potential technical challenges, particularly with respect to targeting the right tissue depth and unintended damage to other structures close to or within the fat layer. Predictability of efficacy using these other techniques is also uncertain. In contrast using Cryolipolysis® induces apoptosis only in fat cells to gently and gradually reduce the fat layer while preserving all other tissue. There is no downtime, patients can go to work the next day and resume their normal activities.

How was it discovered?

The scientific principles of Cryolipolysis® were discovered at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

The physicians and their team conducted research that demonstrated that under carefully controlled conditions, subcutaneous fat cells are naturally more vulnerable to the effects of cold than other surrounding tissue. Exposure to cooling via energy extraction causes fat cell apoptosis—a natural, controlled cell death, which leads to the release of cytokines and other inflammatory mediators that gradually eliminate the affected cells. Inflammatory cells gradually digest the affected fat cells in the months after the procedure, reducing the thickness of the fat layer.

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