Fat Freezing

Fat freezing has quickly grown into one of the most popular ways to reduce fat. Here’s everything you need to know about freezing fat cells before you try it.

In the never-ending quest to feel comfortable in our skinny jeans, fat freezing has become a popular way for many people to finally get there. We hear ads all over the radio from our favorite morning show hosts, see the commercials on TV, and read about celebrities (like Debra Messing and Khloe Kardashian) trying it out.

Those who’ve tried fat freezing swear by it. They praise the procedure for renewed confidence, clothes that fit more comfortably, and less anxiety during bikini season — and no one had to go under a knife to get it.

Perhaps you’re interested in fat freezing, but still don’t quite understand how (or why) it works. Maybe you’re concerned about how effective it really is. Well, we know a thing or two about freezing fat cells, so we’ve got you covered with this ultimate guide to fat freezing.

What is Fat Freezing?

Fat freezing is a method of — you guessed it — literally freezing fat cells to death. It’s most commonly referred to by the clinical name of the procedure (cryolipolysis) or by the most popular brand name of fat freezing machine (CoolSculpting).

Fat freezing is a simple procedure that is done in a doctor’s office or clinic and does not require any kind of surgical consultation or doctor’s clearance. It requires a special machine designed to freeze fat cells by maintaining a consistent, specific temperature for a given period of time.

This method of fat reduction is growing in popularity for many reasons, but some of the biggest are:

  • There’s little to no downtime following the procedure
  • Side effects are minimal
  • It’s far more affordable than surgical fat reduction treatments
  • It’s clinically proven to reduce fat cells in the treatment area

How Does Fat Freezing Work?

Fat freezing works by lowering the temperature of subcutaneous fat cells to their freezing point, which is 39 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4 degrees Celsius. Once the fat cells are frozen, they die and the body slowly breaks them down and expels them through the lymphatic system — just as it would with any other dead cell in the body (a completely normal and common occurrence).

The science behind fat freezing is quite fascinating.

The idea of intentionally freezing fat cells was originally borne out of research being conducted in the first half of the 20th century. Medical professionals were noticing something they eventually called popsicle panniculitis on people’s cheeks after eating frozen foods, like ice cubes or popsicles. A red mark would oftentimes appear on the skin, but what was going on internally was that subcutaneous fat cells were dying, eventually leaving a little dimple on the cheeks of study participants (usually children, as this condition is rarely found in adults).

A photo of a happy woman, measuring her waist post-fat freezing treatment.In 1966, Doctors W.C. Duncan, Robert G. Freeman, and Charles L. Heaton conducted in-depth research into the effect of cold on subcutaneous fat and the surrounding tissue over longer periods of time. The doctors studied these effects on a 6-month old baby — now, this may seem unethical by 21st century standards, but the child was not harmed, and the purpose of the study was to determine specifically, why the cold or popsicle panniculitis effect was more common in children than in adults.

The doctors exposed the child’s cheeks to ice (but not long enough, or directly enough, to damage the skin). Afterwards, they would note any skin reaction after 30 minutes, 6 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, 6 days and finally, two weeks. The effect on the skin would disappear, but plaques formed in the fat cells, being the hardest at the 48 and 72-hour marks.

Additional research conducted in the 1970’s coined the term popsicle panniculitis and served as the basis for continued research by Harvard University scientists Dieter Manstein, MD, PhD, and R. Rox Anderson, MD. While most of the research up to that point had focused on the effects of cold temperatures on subcutaneous fat cells in children, Manstein and Anderson were interested in replicating them in adults — permanently.

Because our bodies are mostly made of water (which has a lower freezing point than fat), the theory was that they could freeze fat cells, killing them off for good, all while protecting the skin and surrounding tissue, which would minimize possible side effects of the procedure. The result of their research was the cryolipolysis procedure millions of people have undergone to get rid of stubborn, unwanted fat pockets on their bodies.

During the fat freezing procedure, a thin film is placed on the designated treatment area, which serves two purposes: to protect the skin from the cold temperatures (because they will be exposed for about an hour) and to help keep the applicator sealed to the client’s body.

Once the applicator is in place, the machine is turned on and set for the appropriate amount of time (it may vary based on the treatment area). At this point, the client is allowed to do whatever he or she pleases, as long as the treatment area remains relatively still. Many clients read, use a tablet or smartphone to get some work done, listen to podcasts (with headphones, please), or play games — some even sleep!

When the procedure is over, the clinician removes the applicator and the client is free to go. Yes, really — that’s it. Clients can go to work, the gym, or run errands immediately afterward. There’s no need to be monitored for any period of time or for the client to stick around — unless of course, they want to book another session before leaving.

Fat Freezing Reviews

Those who’ve undergone fat freezing treatments overwhelmingly leave positive reviews. While some variants exist between facilities, most clients are incredibly happy with the results of the procedure and would consider treatment on another area of their bodies.

Here are some reviews from some of our satisfied fat freezing clients:

My experience was better than I expected. Susanne made me feel very comfortable and answered all my questions (I did have a little fear of the unknown). The procedure was pain-free (just cold) and I got used to it pretty quick. Within a few minutes after the procedure, I went home and washed my floors. I never even had to take ibuprofen. I am really excited to see the end results. If you are thinking about CoolSculpting, I would just go do it. ~ Linda, via Facebook

A photo of a woman happy about her fat freezing results.
I am currently doing my body sculpting. I just want to say how wonderful my experience is. Lori is so nice. She gave me a tour and let me pick which room I wanted to be in. She made me feel so comfortable. She set me up with the tvs and remotes and even a button to push if I needed anything. She explained everything that would take place and how everything worked. I love how it is a one-on-one experience and I’m not getting confused with tons of different people. The treatment itself is not painful or scary at all. Just a little bit of pulling at first. Then a cold feeling — after that it just numbs out and it’s like it isn’t even there. I highly recommend DaVinci Body Sculpting and will most definitely return to get other areas I am self conscious about treated. If you’re looking to get body sculpting done this is the place to do it. ~ Kyndal, via Yelp

I like to wear fitted shirts and now I can. CoolSculpting was the perfect solution for me. It froze off my fat and didn’t interfere with my schedule. ~ K. L. – Testimonial

Wonderful service! During my consultation Lori was very professional and put me at ease. She explained everything thoroughly and definitely didn’t try to oversell me. I initially wanted to CoolSculpt my stomach AND hips, but after looking at the areas she suggested I not do the hips just yet, that we should see how the tummy turned out and then reassess. A week later I went ahead with the procedure. I had two sections on my stomach done, and then two on my back (bra fat). It was so easy and painless. Literally relaxed, drank coffee and watched Real Housewives for a couple hours. It’s been two weeks since the procedure and call me crazy but I think I already see a difference (she told me I could start seeing results as early as 4 weeks, with most of the change happening at 16 weeks). So far, the experience has been great. ~ Jessica, via Google Review

You will not be disappointed. I’ve been so happy with my results! There’s no downtime and no pain. I literally felt like I went to a spa for an hour and then months later, I was smaller. I’ve dropped two pants sizes. I’m truly impressed with DaVinci. If you have doubts, don’t worry, I highly recommend. ~ Kam, via Google Review

How Much Does Fat Freezing Cost?

The price of fat freezing varies according to clinic and geographic location, but it generally starts at about $600 per treatment or application. At DaVinci Body Sculpting, we frequently recommend a second round of treatment to achieve maximum results, but it’s not always necessary — nor will we try to sell you services you don’t actually need.

Because some people choose to undergo treatments on multiple areas or multiple treatments in the same area, the average person may spend between $2,000 and $4,000 on fat freezing. It will depend on the amount of fat the person wants to eliminate, as well as whether the person has maintained the same healthy lifestyle they were living prior to the procedure (or made new healthy lifestyle changes).

A photo of a couple hugging on a beach on their wedding day.

For some, it may seem like $2,000 is a lot of money to spend on fat reduction, but fat freezing is about one-third of the cost of liposuction per treatment area — for everyone involved. Liposuction is not only more expensive for the patient (especially considering health insurance doesn’t usually cover it, and not all plastic surgeons accept insurance), but it’s more expensive for the surgeon to perform.

Fat freezing, on the other hand, doesn’t require general anesthesia or even a surgical center. It’s performed in an office by a trained clinician. There’s no pre-op visits or doctor’s clearance required. Between the cost, downtime after surgery, added risk, and stress involved, it’s really no question which is a better option for most people.

Are You Ready to Start Freezing Your Fat Cells?

If you’re considering CoolSculpting, it’s a good idea to schedule a consultation first. A trained clinician will meet with you and give you an honest recommendation based on your goals and where you’re at in your fat reduction journey.

We promise we won’t sell you anything that won’t actually help you. Believe it or not, we’ve turned people away who weren’t good candidates for fat freezing! We pointed them in a different direction that would better suit their needs because we strive to create the best CoolSculpting experience possible for our clients — and wasting money isn’t the way to do it.

Above all else, our commitment to CoolSculpting means our clients are happy with the service we provide and the results they see. Give us a call and schedule your fat freezing consultation today!

Editor’s Note: Fat freezing reviews included on this page have been gently edited for length and grammar. Results may vary.

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