Have you been frustrated that despite being committed with all the exercise routine prescribed by your fitness instructor, and yet despite some weight loss and muscle gain, those stubborn fats at certain areas persist? Have you been upset that you been trying the latest weight loss methods like intermittent fasting or been doing calorie counting in planning your meals, and yet certain areas still bulge? These are very common concerns that patients come to us when expressing their interest in fat freezing treatment to help target those stubborn areas. In this article, we will explain on fat freezing and how this can potentially benefit you in your body sculpting goals.
What is fat freezing?
Fat freezing, otherwise, also known as cryolipolysis, uses low temperature to remove fat. The fat freezing machine can target localized areas of fat deposits with the intent of reshaping the contours of the body. Within the temperature range of −11 to +5 °C, such temperature leads to cellular death of subcutaneous fat tissue. While the mechanism is not fully understood, the fat cells undergo localized cell death, also known as apoptosis. And also, there will be no harm to skin as well as other tissues. The body will clear the by-products from the cell death process, and this happens gradually over several months results, resulting in a progressive and gradual loss of the fat tissue at the treated area.
There are currently two main types of fat freezing machines that are commonly used in Singapore. Their brand names are “CoolSculpting” as well as “Z-lipo”. At The Clifford Clinic, both types are available. Both are popular treatments that can remove fat cells without surgery or downtime.
The CoolSculpting device is made in the United States and the company that manufactures is called “Zeltiq”. It was invented by a team of American scientists in 2010. They observed that some young children who have a habit of eating popsicles developed dimples in their cheeks. They found out that the popsicles had frozen and removed the small pockets of fat cells in the children’s cheeks, therefore forming dimples. Using this principle, they invented the CoolSculpting machine and developed its fat freezing protocol as well. Several clinical studies have shown consistently the safety and effective profile of the CoolSculping procedure. CoolSculpting is also US FDA-cleared.
The item that is attached onto the body from the fat freezing machine is called an applicator. CoolSculpting has applicators that are made to treat common problematic areas such as the belly, inner thighs, arms, and smaller applicators to treat areas like bra fat, the knee fat and the double chin.
The Z-Lipo device is made in Germany and the company that manufactures it is called “Zimmer Aesthetics”. One of the original founders of the CoolSculpting team had joined the company and invented the Z Lipo machine some time after. Similarly, Z-Lipo has applicators that work on the fat bulges at the belly, thighs and arms.
One main difference between the Z-Lipo and CoolSculpting is the number of applicators attached to the fat-freezing machine. Z-Lipo has two applicators attached to one fat freezing machine while CoolSculpting has one applicator attached to one fat freezing machine. This means that in a typical fat freezing session of an hour, the Z-lipo can cover two areas in one setting as compared to only one from CoolSculpting. To target the belly or the lower abdomen, one applicator needs to be applied to one side of the belly. As such, there are two targets for fat freezing of the belly. Using Z-lipo to treat the lower abdomen will require one hour while using CoolSculpting will take two hours because CoolSculpting only has one applicator.
Another difference between CoolSculpting and Z-lipo is the type of applicator available. For CoolSculpting, the smaller version of the applicator is available. As such, CoolSculpting is able to treat double chin and smaller fat deposits in the bra area and the knee. Z-lipo does not have an applicator that can target the smaller areas.
What to expect in a fat freezing session
Patients are awake during the session. Firstly, a gel pad is applied to the area of interest. The applicator will then be applied. The fatty bulge is then suctioned into the applicator. In the process, a tugging and pulling sensation will be felt. Once the machine starts running its protocol, there will be sensation of coldness, tingling, and some mild cramping sensation. The whole procedure is relatively comfortable and pain-free. It takes about one hour to treat one area. After the area is treated, the applicator is then removed. The area will be massaged for a while after to assist with the breakdown of the fat cells. Several sessions are usually required as part of the protocol to achieve some fat loss over time.
Potential side effects
Potential side effects include localized redness, bruising, swelling and numbness of the skin. All these side effects will subside with time. Soreness at the treatment area is more commonly reported, but the soreness will also go away with time. The worst-case scenario from fat freezing would be paradoxical adipose hypertrophy (PAH). Instead of removing fat, for some unknown reason, the fat tissue grows larger instead. Thankfully, this has not been reported in Singapore before and the incidence of this happening is extremely rare and Zeltiq has released updated applicators that further reduce the risk of this rare complication. At The Clifford Clinic, we are using these latest applicators from Zeltiq.
Advantages of fat freezing
There are several advantages of fat freezing technology. There is no surgical incision required, unlike liposuction. It is considered a low-risk procedure. There is no sedation or generalized anaesthesia required. Most people can carry on with their daily lives almost immediately after treatment, unlikely liposuction which typically require hospitalization as well as wearing of a corset like garment post-operation.
Who is not suitable for fat freezing?
Fat freezing is not recommended for people who have obesity. It should also not be performed on areas with poor skin condition. This include areas that are injured, contain severe eczema, psoriasis or varicose veins. As cold temperature is utilized in the treatment process, people who have medical conditions that will make one’s body react negatively should not do fat freezing. The medical conditions include Raynaud’s phenomenon, cryoglobulinemia, paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria, cold urticaria and cold agglutinin disease.
While Z-lipo and CoolSculpting are safe and with no downtime, neither of these treatments is optimal for drastic weight loss, unlike what a traditional liposuction can achieve. The goals of such treatments are for body sculpting. For individuals who do not want the risk and pain from surgery and just want to remove pockets of stubborn fat that is resistant to diet and exercise, fat freezing is a good choice to consider.
Feel free to drop by The Clifford Clinic to enquire more!