Fat freezing through cryolipolysis isn’t new; I tried it a few years ago as I have one area on my stomach that doesn’t shift with exercise – and was pretty impressed with the results. But, it was quite uncomfortable, especially when they needed to massage the frozen ‘block’ afterwards. The ZLipo System that Cutis Medical Laser Clinics is now using has smaller applicators and shorter treatment times. So, I braved up to try it again and it was pretty painless. Plus, they’re using a shockwave machine instead of the manual massage afterwards, which is noisy, but a breeze pain-wise.
Dr Sylvia Ramirez at Cutis explains the products and process in more detail.
How does cryolipolysis work?
By the time we reach young adulthood, we have a set number of fat cells, or adipocytes. These shrink and grow according to our weight. Cryolipolysis works by permanently reducing the number of adipocytes in the area. Even if you do gain weight after the treatment, the remaining adipocytes in the area may grow, but that area would remain streamlined compared to other untreated areas.
Does it destroy all fat?
Cryolipolysis, like all non-invasive treatments, only works on subcutaneous fat, or fat that you can pinch just beneath the skin. Visceral fat, which surrounds the organs and is linked to diabetes and heart disease, can only be removed through diet and exercise.
How does cryolipolysis compare to other non-invasive fat-reduction procedures?
There are currently four popular procedures out there: cryolipolysis, low-level laser therapy, HIFU and radiofrequency. A study has shown that out of those four, cryolipolysis achieves the greatest reduction in abdominal and thigh circumference.
Tell us more about the ZLipo system.
We have several cryolipolysis or fat freezing devices but, the ZLipo is our go-to device. It pre-massages to soften firm, fibrous fat tissue so it’s able to achieve greater suctioning ability, leading to greater outcomes. The massage with our shockwave machine also enhances recovery.
With the new ZLipo 360° applicators, the suction and the cooling system is dispersed throughout the applicator, resulting in a gentler vacuum experience and a more comfortable fat-freezing procedure. Treatment time is also reduced.
How safe is it?
Multiple clinical studies have shown that cryolipolysis reduces fat without causing trauma to the surrounding area. This is because the triglycerides in the fat cells are more sensitive to cold, compared to nerves and muscles. The precise cooling in cryolipolysis enables safety by only affecting fat cells while sparing the surrounding skin, nerves and muscles.
Which areas can you treat?
The abdomen, flank, thighs, arms and chin.
What are the side effects?
Common side effects include bruising, swelling, sensitivity and pain, which resolves in a few weeks. Numbness happens in approximately two-thirds of patients, but it is also temporary.
What results can we expect from this kind of fat freezing?
Results vary, but you can expect a 15 to 25 percent fat reduction in the area being treated. The abdomen, back and flank areas saw the greatest improvement.
Can we combine fat freezing with other procedures?
Yes! The vast majority of our patients do that as no single treatment can address all body concerns and goals.
The Z-Wave, a shockwave machine that uses massaging air pulses, can increase fat reduction and smoothen out any contour irregularities. Alternatively, there’s the Z-field, which is an electromagnetic muscle stimulation device that increases the effectiveness of cryolipolysis by 50 percent. As every patient is unique, a customised treatment plan is necessary.
Is cryolipolysis for everyone?
No. It is very difficult to achieve significant fat reduction, if a person is not willing to make lifestyle changes or if they’re obese.
It also works better on those with mild to moderate skin laxity — while there are treatments we can do to tighten the skin after cryolipolysis, those with severe sagging should consider surgery instead. It’s also not for those who have hernia, diastasis recti, open wounds, neuropathic disorders or extreme sensitivity to cold.
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