The hot way to melt fat is actually cool. So cool, in fact, the process employs technology that is only one degree above hypothermia. It's called CoolSculpting.
Safe? Yes — it has Food and Drug Administration clearance. Comfortable? Reasonably so — especially after the first few minutes. Effective — it's the world's number one noninvasive fat reduction procedure.
Overall, the procedure is quick, painless and effective. Typically, each hour-long treatment kills about 25 percent of the fat cells in the targeted area. For most, one treatment does the trick.
People who have had the procedure describe it as a tingling or pressure sensation as the fat is sucked into the machine, then a coldness while the temperature drops to around 14 degrees.
Unlike liposuction, CoolSculpting gives targeted results without incisions, anesthesia or recovery time. Patients can stop by for a treatment on their lunch hour — eat, check their email and be on their way.
It's backed by science. Dr. Rox Anderson, of Harvard University and Mass General, told “Dateline” he struck upon the science of freezing away fat based on two concepts
First, Popsicle panniculitis — a condition where children who leave Popsicles in their mouths too long lose some of the fat in their cheeks and, second, butter — because it becomes solid when it's cooled.
Pulling those two thoughts together, Anderson came up with a noninvasive machine that will target and freeze fat without damaging the skin, essentially killing some of the fat cells. Then, over the course of several weeks, the body releases the dead fat cells through its normal elimination process.
"If you pay attention to Mother Nature, she's already done all the good experiments," Anderson said. "You just have to kind of listen to her."
One of Mother Nature's oft-repeated messages is permanent weight loss requires healthy habits. CoolSculpting is not a cure-all and should not be used as a weight-loss program. It doesn't mean you can't gain the weight back although, if patients put on weight, they do all over, not just in one spot.
However, the procedure is successful for people who exercise and eat right. It helps manage stubborn love handles, saddle bags and pooches. Seeing positive results often is the motivation to maintain healthy habits.
The procedure may not be right for everyone.
Ideal candidates for CoolSculpting
- Patients who have localized fat deposits (e.g., anterior abdominal region, trunk or "love handles," arms, inner and outer thighs)
- Patients who are relatively close to their ideal body weight
- Patients who want a noninvasive procedure
- Patients who want their clothing to fit better
- Patients who want to look better in a bathing suit
- Patients who have realistic expectations
Poor candidates for CoolSculpting
- Morbidly obese patients
- Patients without localized fat deposition
- Patients with poor skin elasticity or tone
- Patients with excessive scarring or skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis in the area of intended treatment
- Patients with unrealistic expectations
If you determine CoolSculpting is a good fit for your lifestyle, as with any medical procedure, choose a reputable provider.