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The EV guide to Fat Freezing

Is fat freezing right for you? Here's everything you need to know, from how it works to who it suits and what the results look like

Cryolipolysis, otherwise known as fat freezing, is an increasingly popular non surgical cosmetic procedure. There are a few forms of cryolipolysis on the market, however you have probably heard of CoolSculpting, the most widely available fat freezing brand, which has been performed more than eight million times worldwide and is endorsed by many A-listers.

One of the main reasons the treatment is so in demand is that it works. Not only that, the fat loss is permanent and you often need just one treatment to see a reduction (although areas with more fat may require more treatments). Want to find out more? Here's the lowdown…

What exactly is fat freezing?

A non surgical (but not as dramatic) alternative to liposuction, cryolipolysis is used to reduce fat and contour the body. A device  is attached to the skin which safely and painlessly freezes the fat cells beneath, without causing any trauma to the skin or underlying tissue. The treatment uses different sized devices depending on the area to be treated, and can be used on stubborn pockets of fat that won’t budge, even with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Popular areas include the abdomen, back/bra fat, inner thighs, flanks, upper arms, and under the chin.

How does it work?

Your practitioner will access the area of concern before taking some photos. The skin is marked up for positioning purposes and then protected with a gel pad before the applicator device is attached – it does this by sucking the excess fat into the cup like a vacuum. Cooling is then applied for 35 minutes, and the temperature drops to -11 degrees celsius, at which point fat cells go into apoptosis and start to be killed off – fat is more temperature sensitive than skin. This destroys them and they will not return, although it is not a weight loss solution and you won’t shed pounds.

Is it painful?

In our experience, the clamping doesn’t hurt at all. When the cooling first starts, you may feel a sensation of heat followed by cold and perhaps some tingling – after about 10 minutes you're numb and shouldn’t feel anything. You can read, work or watch a movie but are advised to keep very still in case the machine un-attaches itself. It can be time consuming as you can only treat one area at a time; one arm or one inner thigh for example. The most painful part, in our opinion, was the vigorous two minute massage immediately after each treatment; this is to help break up the fat cells and is said to improve results. Even our practitioner said that people have wanted to kill her at this point.

Will it work for me?

If you are close to your ideal body weight and have stubborn, pinchable pockets of fat or noticeable bulges that won’t shift with exercise, you should get a good result. However this is no quick fix – the results take a few weeks to kick in due to the body’s lymphatic system gradually disposing of the cells. Radio frequency treatments such as Elixis Elite can elevate your results, so if you also need to address loose skin, book in after your fat freezing treatments to help tighten the area you're addressing.

Is there any downtime?

Fat freezing is mostly safe, there’s no real downtime and you should be able to go back to work or your usual schedule straight away. There may be temporary bruising, swelling and soreness however, and the treated area is likely to be numb for a while. When one of our editor’s tried it, they found the area to be a bit tender when putting pressure on it, but this only lasted a few days. You will be encouraged to drink lots of water and exercise as normal to help the lymphatic system to do its job.

How long do results last?

You may start noticing a difference four weeks post-treatment—for most people it’s around the 8-12 week mark. By then, the frozen fat cells should have left the building and you’ll be left with around 20-25 per cent reduction in the treated area. Bear in mind that it could take six months to see the full result. While the treatment is proven to have a high success rate, don’t expect miracles as this is primarily a body contouring treatment – you won’t see a major difference as you would with liposuction. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise and a stable weight to preserve the results and prevent new fat cells from forming, as they will appear elsewhere.

Are there any risks associated with this treatment?

As this is a non invasive treatment, the risks are very low. However, there is a rare side effect called lipohypertrophy that sees fat accumulating and growing under the skin, instead of shrinking. A few PAH (paradoxical adipose hyperplasia), cases have also been reported – this complication occurs when a hardened area of localised fat develops. There is also a small risk of uneven results if the device isn’t placed correctly; this is why you should make sure you book with an experienced, accredited practitioner or clinic used to performing fat freezing treatments.

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