The Science of Cryolipolysis™
Cryolipolysis™ is the non-invasive cooling of adipose tissue to induce lipolysis – the breaking down of fat cells – to reduce body fat without damage to other tissues. The scientific principles of Cryolipolysis were discovered by dermatologists Dieter Manstein, MD, and R. Rox Anderson, MD, of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
How Non-Invasive Cryolipolysis Works
- Step 1: Precisely controlled cooling is applied through the skin to the fat layer
- Step 2: Cooling is maintained for a predetermined time period to damage the fat cells
- Step 3: Fat cells begin a natural removal process that continues for several months
- Step 4: The natural removal of fat cells over time results in gradual fat layer reduction
The physicians and their team conducted research which demonstrated that under carefully controlled conditions, subcutaneous fat cells are naturally more vulnerable to the effects of cold than other surrounding tissue. Their initial work, published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine in November 2008, showed that:
- Exposure to cooling via energy extraction causes fat cell apoptosis – a natural, controlled cell death which leads to the release of cytokines and other inflammatory mediators that gradually eliminate the affected cells.
- Inflammatory cells gradually digest the affected fat cells in the months after the procedure, reducing the thickness of the fat layer.
- Lipids from the fat cells are slowly released and transported by the lymphatic system to be processed and eliminated, much like that of fat from food.
Based on their research findings, the investigators concluded that "prolonged, controlled local tissue cooling can induce selective fat cell reduction and subsequent loss of subcutaneous fat, without damaging the overlying skin." This discovery, called "selective Cryolipolysis," led to the development of the patented technology behind the non-invasive CoolSculpting™ procedure.
Why the CoolSculpting Procedure Is Different
The CoolSculpting procedure using Cryolipolysis is fundamentally different from other non- or minimally-invasive modalities. Other methods of fat removal primarily involve necrotic cell death by damaging fat with heat, high-intensity focused ultrasound, or chemical injections. Each approach poses potential technical challenges, particularly with respect to targeting the right tissue depth and unintended damage to other structures close to or within the fat layer. Predictability of efficacy using these other techniques is also uncertain. In contrast, the CoolSculpting procedure using Cryolipolysis induces apoptosis only in fat cells to gently and gradually reduce the fat layer while preserving all other tissue.
The CoolSculpting™ procedure for non-invasive fat layer reduction is available in Canada, the European Union and other international markets. The device is cleared by the FDA in the United States for various applications related to skin cooling during dermatologic treatments, with a pending application for non-invasive fat layer reduction.
Scientific Studies and Publications
Note: None of the above is intended as medical advice.