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Freezing fat away: Non-invasive fat removal methods that work

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Surgeons find non-invasive fat removal methods really work

Liposuction has long been the norm for permanent removal of fat, and now there are non-invasive treatments, including fat removal through controlled cooling. But how do these non-invasive methods stack up in terms of safety and efficacy in clinical trials? Since the approval of the first cryolipolysis device in 2010, how much is this non-invasive body contouring procedure in demand?

A group of plastic surgeons from Southern California wanted to know the answers to these questions, so they launched the largest, most comprehensive review of cryolipolysis to date, concentrating on 528 patients who were treated with the CoolSculpting® device at a single, multi-surgeon practice from January 2010 to December 2012.

What they found was that cryolipolysis was very effective at reducing subcutaneous fat volume without any major adverse effects. In fact, only three cases of mild or moderate pain were reported in the chart review, all of which dissipated quickly.

The surgeons also found that the procedure’s popularity grew intensely over the two years studied, with 823% more procedures performed in 2012 than in 2010, and a growing demand for the treatment among men, according to the article, "Broad Overview of a Clinical and Commercial Experience with CoolSculpting," published in the August issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

"Our review showed that cryolipolysis is not only safe and effective for nonsurgical, localized fat removal, but also provides high patient satisfaction levels," said lead author Grant Stevens, MD, of Marina Del Rey, California. "With careful treatment planning, proper applicator placement, and multiple treatment cycles, cryolipolysis can produce results comparable to those of liposuction."

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The 528 patients in this study were comprised of 403 women and 125 men. During the two year study, more men responded to targeted advertising about the procedure, resulting in men making up 42% of the patient population in the last quarter of the study period.

Patients ranged from 18 to 79 years, with an average age of 46 years, and a similar age distribution among men and women. The primary sites treated with the CoolSculpting procedure were the lower abdomen (28%), upper abdomen (11%), left or right flank (19% each), inner thigh (6%), back (6%), and outer thigh (5%).

The majority of the patients (62%) had not previously undergone any type of cosmetic procedure, but 40% of the new patients became established patients, later undergoing additional procedures like cosmetic surgery, nonsurgical injectable treatment, skin care, laser hair removal and skin resurfacing.

"This is an important large study which confirms the safety and efficacy of cryolipolysis", said Foad Nahai, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

Liposuction was the number one cosmetic surgery procedure performed on men in 2012, and a total of 313,011 liposuction procedures were performed on both men and women in that same year, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

SOURCE: Aesthetic Surgery Journal, August 2013 vol. 33 no. 6 835-846 (doi: 10.1177/1090820X13494757), “Broad Overview of a Clinical and Commercial Experience with CoolSculpting”.