The Fat Removal Contest: Fat Freezing -v- Laser Liposuction

In the treatment of fat removal there are so many new and exciting procedures available today it is understandable that some people can get a little bit confused.

Thinking about your particular problem, whether it be stubborn belly fat post pregnancy or “heavy knees”, you need to research which of the two main types of modern fat removal treatments would suit you best.

The two main types discussed here are hyperthermic laser lipolysis (or laser liposuction) and fat freezing.  Neither of these procedures is designed to be a major weight loss strategy, they are to reduce fat that has accumulated in a particular area and that has not responded to dieting and/or exercise.  They both aim to remove fat gently and give a more contoured and youthful appearance to the skin.  But what are the benefits, disadvantages and difference for each treatment?

What is Fat Freezing?

Essentially, the fat freezing method destroys and eliminates fat cells and the containing fat from the body via the lymphatic system.  Did you know: The number of fat cells our bodies produce is developed during the puberty stage?  There is little accurate information on whether this is genetically pre-determined or if other factors (such as stress, diet, illness, etc.) can influence this.  Either way it is too late for most of us to change the volume of fat cells in the various parts of the body.  When we gain weight or lose weight the fat cells simply fill up or empty.  What’s more so-called “yo-yo” dieting reinforces this behaviour in the body.

This is the main benefit to fat freezing – because it kills off most of the fat cells in the targeted area there should not be a “re-filling” of fat – giving permanent results.   The unknown factors are:

  • How long before the body adapts to fat loss in the area and stores greater quantities in other fat cells that might not have hoarded before the treatment?
  • Can the clinician always accurately target the fat to give a reduced, smooth and natural looking contour?

The procedure works by applying a vacuum device and a sub-zero temperature pack to the area for about 10 minutes.  The fat cells are literally frozen to death during this time.  The body’s own lymphatic drainage system slowly eliminates the cells and contained fat over a period of weeks and months.

How does it feel?

CoolSculpting® patients report a tugging or pinching sensation. With a non-vacuum surface applicator it is more a sense of pressure.  Intense cold followed by numbness is the typical experience.  The applicator is then removed leaving a bulge which can be massaged and warmed.

Optimum results are not usually seen until around three-four months. Reduction in size and quality of contour might vary from patient to patient.  It is possible that more than one application will be required to gain the desired results.

What is Hyperthermic Laser Liposuction?

Leading the way in hyperthermic laser lipolysis is the SculpSure™ system from Cynosure®.  Using hyperthermic laser technology the SculpSure™procedure targets the areas of stubborn fat through a heated laser light device.

1060nm wavelength targets and disrupts fat cells beneath the dermis.  The device raises the temperature of the fatty tissue to between 42-47°C. The pad is placed on the skin and over 25 minutes there is a gradual heating of the fat.

Over a short period of time the body will naturally eliminate the disrupted fat cells through the metabolism and lymphatic drainage.  Optimum fat reduction results are typically seen between 6 and 12 weeks later.

SculpSure™ is used for lypolysis (destruction of fat cells), primarily on the flanks and abdomen. The device is being further developed by the makers, Cynosure, for ease of fat removal in other areas, such as the neck (double chin), buttocks and thighs. The SculpSure™ method can be used to treat areas of both non-pinchable and pinchable fat and is suitable for all skin types.

Multiple areas can be treated (up to four).  Each device measures approximately 2” x 3”.  A six week interval should be made between repeat sessions.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Both the hyperthermic laser liposuction and fat freezing treatments for fat reduction offer similar results, with minimum skin invasion.  The main difference between the two approaches is

  • The technology – one is a heat process, the other is a freezing process.
  SculpSure®

Coolsculpting®

Advantages Suitable for all healthy adult men and women.

Suitable for all healthy adult men and women.

Suitable for all skin types. Suitable for all skin types.
Non-invasive and no damage to surrounding tissue = no downtime. Some options are zero invasion = no risk of infection (adverse reactions can occur).
Fat cells are disrupted gently through heat and removed naturally via lymphatic system. Fat cells are destroyed – in theory this should mean no “re-filling” of fat in treated area.
Cooling device ensures comfort throughout the procedure. The fat gently depletes over time (at least several weeks) by the body’s own lymphatic drainage system.
Immediate visible results that improve with time. Low-zero downtime.
No needles = no distress! No needles = no distress!
Multiple areas can be treated in one session.
 
Disadvantages A top-up may be required. Long-long term results and effects not yet reported.
Not suitable for those with skin sensitivities or specific dermal conditions. Targeting the fat is less controlled.  The clinician and patient will not know how effective the fat removal is until some weeks have passed.  Therefore more sessions might be required before the patient is satisfied with the desired results.
  Usually no sedative is offered, but reports of some discomfort.
Optimum results could take 4 or more months
More than application is often required.
Not suitable for those with skin sensitivities or specific dermal conditions.

 

Conclusion

So, considering both of these polar-opposite approaches to fat removal, which do you think is right for you?

While the fat freezing options sounds great with its naturally eliminating process via lymphatic drainage, can you be sure the treatment will target the whole area and deliver an even contour to the area? And how much time will that take? The permanent destruction of the fat cells themselves means fat should never be stored, but does this mean the body will strive to store fat somewhere else?  These longer term results are yet to be reported.

The testimonials from long term patients should be a trustworthy source of reliability offering confidence in the procedure provided you go to an established clinic.

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