We recently came across descriptions of serious injuries caused when some people attempted to “freeze” parts of their own body, typically by applying ice packs for extended periods. Needless to say, we’d very much like to dissuade anyone from trying to experiment on themselves this way – we’ll explain why “DIY CoolSculpting” is not only a particularly bad idea but potentially quite dangerous.
The Theory Behind CoolSculpting
Medical research has demonstrated that fat cells are more sensitive to being damaged by low temperatures than surrounding tissue. By reducing the temperature of fat cells for specific periods of time, it’s possible to actually kill the fat cells, after which they will be naturally eliminated from the body over the days and weeks that follow. Fat cells expand or contract during your lifetime, but once killed they are not replaced. Hence any loss of damaged fat cells will be permanent. By targeting fat close to the skin, it’s possible to effectively remove fat deposits and cosmetically reshape parts of the body.
Despite the fact that the technique is often referred to as “fat freezing,” fat cells are not in fact “frozen” when CoolSculpting is used. They are instead cooled to the precise temperature proven to be the most effective at damaging them.
What Equipment Is Used by Your Doctor?
Allergan produces the specialized equipment used in a CoolSculpting session. It uses a sophisticated control unit and applicators, which effectively cool the area being treated to a precise temperature while using suction to ensure that the skin stays in close contact with the cooling pads. The system ensures that fat beneath the skin is cooled to the temperature that’s the safest and most effective for fat removal. Several different applicators are available, depending on the part of the body that’s being treated. The process is designed to not only be effective at fat removal but also to protect your skin from damage during the process.
The Theory Behind DIY
If freezing fat cells kills them, why not just put on an ice pack and do it yourself? You can find “LipoBelts” online that claim to provide effective ways of eliminating fat. Regardless of how effective these seem, there is no medical evidence to suggest that they work, nor that they’re even safe to experiment with.
The main problem with DIY methods is that you have to guess how cold your body needs to be, and for how long. To be both safe and effective, fat must be cooled to a specific temperature for a carefully controlled period. If incorrect temperatures are used (almost guaranteed to be the case when using ice-packs), you risk frostbite, pain, even serious skin burns. The risks of serious side effects greatly increase for those with circulatory problems or diabetes and could result in permanent tissue damage.
Ice packs also melt, making it impossible to maintain the precise constant temperature over time that’s needed for effective fat removal.
There are other problems: ice packs are not adapted to the shape of the parts of the body that you’re trying to treat. So even if you manage to cool the area to the correct temperature and avoid any of the problems, you will not be effective at removing fat. You may also cause blisters if you allow your skin to warm up too quickly after cooling it. Finally, even if you do manage to kill fat cells effectively, you run a substantial risk of leaving your body misshapen and unnatural looking.
By using an experienced and qualified doctor to perform the CoolSculpting procedure, you will be maximizing the benefits you draw from the treatment while minimizing the possibility of undesired side effects. Your doctor will draw on their experience to ensure that you gain the most benefit from the smallest number of treatments, closely monitor the process to ensure you remain safe and tailor the process to ensure that your fat loss looks balanced and natural.
We will be happy to answer any questions you have about CoolSculpting or any of the other non-invasive procedures we offer. If you are in the Los Angeles area, please visit us online or call us at (323) 525-1516 to schedule a free consultation.