The medical term for CoolSculpting® is cryolipolysis. Cryolipolysis is a special chilling process that kills fat cells by breaking apart the cellular membrane. Tissue gets cold enough to cause the fat (lipid) to harden, while the water remains liquid. The hardened lipid damages the membrane of fat cells. This damage induces apoptosis, a process were the cells kill themselves through auto-digestion. Since water remains liquid, this chilling process does not harm the skin, muscles or nerves.
The technology for CoolSculpting® is based upon the findings of two medical studies: Popsicle® Cold Paniculitis1 and Equestrian Cold Paniculitis2. In the Popsicle study, teething pain was treated with a frozen Popsicle. In the equestrian study, women had ridden atop frozen saddles. In both scenarios, tissue had been intensely chilled without actual freezing. The result was death to just fat cells, without any harm to the skin, muscle, nerve or other tissues.
The CoolSculpting procedure exploits the phenomenon of cold paniculitis. A special applicator applies a controlled cooling cycle directly through the skin, making CoolSculpting entirely noninvasive. CoolSculpting results are consistent with the cold paniculitis studies. The procedure kills fat cells without any harming other tissues. It has been shown to reduce skin laxity in the submentum (double-chin).
CoolSculpting received a medical clearance in Canada and Europe in 2009. In the US, it received an FDA clearance as a class 2 medical device in 20103. There have been over eight million CoolSculpting treatments performed, making CoolSculpting the world’s most popular fat reduction procedure.
Fat reduction from CoolSculpting is a slow process. The fat cells die within three days of treatment. Over the next two weeks, the immune system enters the treated area. Over the next several months, the immune system slowly removes the dead fat cells. At about 3-5 months, the immune system leaves the area. The resulting tissue looks normal, with significantly fewer fat cells*.
Fat cells have an extremely poor ability to regenerate in adults. This means that CoolScuplting results are extremely long lasting. The Bernstein study4 shows that the results persist for at least a decade. The Equestrian Cold Panniculitis study2 concluded that fat reduction is permanent.