Is it safe to freeze away your fat cells?

A non-surgical treatment now offered in Canada promises to take inches off your problem areas. Here’s how it works

Is it safe to freeze away your fat cells?

Source: Best Health magazine, May 2014; Image: Thinkstock

Slimming down by freezing your fat cells is actually feasible. Fat-freezing cryolipolysis has been done in the U.K. for a few years, but is relatively unknown here, even though the CoolSculpting machine’the first device to use cryolipolysis technology’was approved in Canada in 2009 and in the U.S. in 2010.

The non-surgical treatment aims to remove fat cells from problem areas (e.g., tummy and hips). The fat cells freeze and die, and are eliminated by your body’s lymphatic system over a few months, says Jeff Nourse, CEO of New You spas in Ontario, which offers Cool­Sculpting. ‘On average, a person loses an inch per treatment, and should see full results in two months,’ says Nourse. ‘Most clients we see are active and not overweight; they want to target a problem area they can’t seem to lose weight from.’

Here’s how it works: A clamp-like suction device is applied to the treatment area. It will feel cold but not uncomfortable, and stays in place for an hour. Since fat cells freeze at a higher temperature, there’s no damage to other cells, says Nourse. The procedure is more affordable and, obviously, less invasive than liposuction, but CoolSculpting is not cheap: For example, the cost of treatment per section is $600-$700 at New You. And it is effective only if you maintain your weight; if you gain weight, you’ll be replacing old fat cells with new ones.

While a recent study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal found cryolipolysis to be safe and effective for fat removal, it is still a new treatment and there’s no long-term research yet.

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!