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10 things you need to know about fat freezing 

Obese woman

Fat freezing or cryolipolysis has been the talk of the town in 2023 and is here to stay in 2024. While there is yet to be a gold standard for non-invasive body sculpting procedures, cryolipolysis is emerging as the frontrunner; its popularity is attributed to its clinical efficiency [1] and high patient satisfaction rate of 73% [2] after one treatment. 

Here at Oz Aesthetics, through the application of the cryolipolysis mechanism, we have engineered an innovative fat freezing solution: CryoMAX. Apart from being an innovative birthchild of our line of aesthetic professionals that is highly prided, CryoMAX has quickly become a favoured treatment by clients for substantial reasons. 

Understandably, this procedure has an irresistible element of enticement, creating an eager wave of uptakers ready for visible and transformative results. However, how much of this hype is substantiated? Is fat freezing truly a magical solution to weight loss? Before you jump on the bandwagon, here are 10 things you need to know about fat freezing. 

Fact #1: Cryolipolysis is not a solution to obesity 

Often, we are visited by clients who are overweight and looking for a “one-pill” solution to their health concerns. It is important to note that cryolipolysis is not a medical treatment but rather an aesthetic one. It is a treatment intended for fat loss, not weight loss. Simply put, it targets fat loss in stubborn areas rather than aiding generalised weight loss. 

The human body comprises two forms of fat: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat lies on a layer beneath your skin, whilst visceral fat is the one that is deep within the abdominal walls and around organs. In the case of obese patients, both these types of fat are distributed around the body to the extent of increasing risks of developing heart diseases, stroke, and other health complications. 

While CryoMAX can break down fat cells and progressively and continuously catalyse fat cell destruction, fat freezing, in general, will not resolve the issues pertaining to obesity. It is important that clients manage their expectations or at least have realistic and safe expectations when approaching any form of aesthetic treatment. Your suitability as a candidate can be gauged during a consultation where your underlying health conditions are assessed, and the level of efficacy will be projected. 

Obese woman
Cryolipolysis is not a one-stop solution for obesity. 

Fact #2: Cryolipolysis cannot address sagginess 

But CryoMAX can. Unbeknownst to many, fat freezing does not improve skin elasticity. In many clinics, patients are recommended procedures such as tummy tucks to address skin laxity. Whilst cryolipolysis by itself does not cause dramatic weight loss and thus cannot be faulted for excess skin, the fact remains that it is unable to improve skin laxity that may be reminiscent of prior weight loss

This is why at Oz Aesthetics, a need for creating an optimised fat freezing solution was raised. 

CyroMax is also known as contrast cryolipolysis, differentiating itself from the conventional method with the inclusion of heat exposure. By embedding the mechanism of heat, contrast cryolipolysis has proven to be efficient [3] in addressing issues of skinfolds. In other words, it can concurrently tighten skin whilst addressing cellulite. Yet again, it is important to manage your expectations. Whilst all forms of fat freezing cannot be used as a treatment for excess skin, where skin laxity is presented with mild to moderate severity, CryoMAX can effectively address them.

Stretch mark and cellulite on woman
CryoMax has the unique ability to address cellulite and mild to moderate sagginess. 

Fact 3: Fat freezing may leave bruises or burns 

A common side effect of fat freezing is “bruises” or, more accurately, cold burns. Despite the treatment claiming to have minimal and transient bruising, cryolipolysis is increasingly scrutinised as the number of patients treated in burn units grows [4]. Does this mean fat freezing as a whole is an unsafe procedure despite being FDA-cleared?

It is important to note that FDA clearance is limited to specific usage areas. Additionally, as per FDA guidelines, patients with the conditions below are not suitable candidates for fat freezing: 

  • Raynaud’s disease, pernio, or chilblains: individuals with these conditions have poor blood circulation when exposed to cold.
  • Cold urticaria: individuals with cold urticaria develop formations of hives on the skin (akin to allergy) with cold exposure. 
  • Cryoglobulinaemia: this condition results in the formation of blood clumps when exposed to cold temperatures. 
  • Paroxysmal cold haemoglobinuria or cold agglutinin disease: this condition damages red blood cells when exposed to cold. 

If you are diagnosed with one more condition above or any form of blood or skin disorder, your body may react negatively to fat freezing. Again, your underlying health conditions must be assessed before proceeding with any treatment. 

With the full awareness of cold burn risks, CryoMAX was thus created to negate this specific risk factor. The inclusion of thermal shock (heat) and LED therapy reduces the risks of bruising and haematoma effectively, with no clients reporting a cold burn as an adverse effect to date. 

At Oz Aesthetics, we are also acutely aware of the potential of treatments reacting differently on different skin types. As Asian skin types typically have higher levels of melanin [5], we take into consideration the possibility of burns and the consequential outcome of hyperpigmentation when delivering our treatments. 

Fact 4: Fat freezing and the risks of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) 

The media was frenzied when celebrities came forth with stories of dismay from their fat freeze treatment. With additional reports of “permanent bulge” or disfigurement over the area of treatment, the general public is seen to be repelled by fat freeze treatment over an adverse effect which should have been rare and negligible [6].

To date, no unifying or identifiable risk factor has been found to significantly determine the likelihood of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) [7] occurring. Essentially, in some people, the fat freeze treatment causes an enlargement and multiplication of subcutaneous adipose tissue in the targeted area, subsequently resulting in a protruding appearance of these areas. So far, some common characteristics of victims of PAH post cryolipolysis are: 

  • Male
  • Treating the lower abdomen of males
  • Not massaged or massaged improperly following treatment
  • Improper fitting handpieces or improper placement of handpieces

As stated above, improper delivery of the method could potentially cause PAH. We also believe attempting to treat patients who are overweight with a high percentage of subcutaneous fat could also risk the occurrence of PAH (echoing our first point in this article). It is important that you select a provider who is comfortable with rejecting you for treatment rather than exposing you to the harms of long-term and potentially permanent disfigurement. 

To date, all studies done for CryoMAX have shown NO incidence of PAH as contrasted cryolipolysis has minimal or no risk of PAH.

Fact 5: Fat freezing is non-invasive, unlike its counterparts

The plausibility of fat freezing is not all noise. It is favoured especially in Asian communities [8] due to its high success rates. More importantly, unlike its counterparts, such as liposuction, fat freezing is comparatively non-invasive. All negative publicity aside, while liposuction is affiliated with major complications such as death [9], cryolipolysis is not. There are other non-invasive body sculpting treatments [10] cleared by the FDA; however, none compares to the level of success cryolipolysis has achieved. 

Cryolipolysis does not require any sedative or anaesthesia. Additionally, each session can be completed in less than 90 minutes with no downtime. In the fast-paced lives of Singaporeans, many of us cannot afford to go under the knife, followed by week-long medical leaves for recovery. It is a treatment suited for those looking to optimise their body without sacrificing their commitments and disrupting their schedule. 

Fact 6: Fat freezing allows targeted fat loss 

“Just workout already!” 

This is a common criticism by those who perceive fat freezing as a “shortcut”. Exercising is the best way to lose weight and achieve a sculpted body. It is the true “competitor” to body sculpting treatments like fat freezing. So why should anyone pursue fat freezing at all? 

Many of our fat freezing clients are athletes and gym goers who place significant value on the aesthetic appearance of their body (versus purely functional). The truth is even the most optimised athlete will struggle with losing fat in certain areas of their body. These limitations can be attributed to factors such as genetics [11]. 

Whilst one could still attempt to get rid of stubborn fat with extreme workout regimens and dieting, you can argue that these extremities are unhealthy and add stress to the body. Whilst exercising is effective, it simply cannot target fat loss in specific areas [12] (also known as spot reduction). 

Conventional cryolipolysis can target localised pockets of fat. Still, while excellent in reducing fat bulges, it cannot sculpt out an hourglass figure, nor can it sculpt symmetrically toned arms and thighs. Cryomax, with its contrasted cryolipolysis technology, can sculpt the desired body figure as more focused treatment can be made on certain areas of fat.

Spot reduction
CryoMax can target fat loss in stubborn areas which exercise cannot reduce. 

Fact 7: Fat freezing requires continued dedication 

Conventional Fat freezing is not a one-off procedure, albeit evidence of results is apparent after the first session.  Depending on your specific concern, you will be required to complete 4 sessions (with a minimum 1 month interval) to complete the treatment. However, with CryoMAX and contrasted cryolipolysis, you can see results immediately after the first session.

Additionally, fat freezing will require individual effort to maintain the results you have yielded. Clients blame fat freezing as ineffective when they gain fat in targeted areas after a few months. It is important to note that maintaining a balanced diet and meeting your minimal physical activity requirement is still necessary. Again, all forms of fat freezing, including CryoMAX, are not a replacement for doing the bare minimum to achieve a balanced lifestyle. 

Fact 8: Fat freezing will take effect for up to 6 months 

Your first noticeable change will appear within two months post-treatment. You can then expect continuous improvement for up to 6 months. In the specific case of CryoMAX, one is provided the opportunity to progressively and continuously reduce fat in targeted areas as long as they are being supported by one's lifestyle. In other words, fat loss is not limited to 6 months. 

Clients may opt to maintain their new fat loss or continue with their session if they would like to accelerate the process. You can discuss with us which option is best for your specific case. The ability to progressively lose fat with CryoMAX makes it a sustainable targeted fat loss solution for many. 

Fact 9:  Fat freezing detoxes your waste “naturally” 

Often, clients are curious about where their fat is “disappearing” to. After treatment, the cold temperature freezes and crystallises the fat cells. These “injure” the fat cells in the targeted area without muscle breakdown or skin damage. Thermal energy will then be dispersed throughout the skin, initiating vasodilation [13], and increasing blood flow to the target area. The continuous contrasted exposure to two extreme temperatures catalyses progressive and continuous fat cell destruction. (fat reduction)

Once the fat cells are broken down, they will be transported through your lymphatic vessel to the liver. The liver then metabolises the fat and eliminates it from the body as waste (urine, sweat). Metabolism plays a crucial role in the efficiency of the treatment. CryoMAX, thus, provides metabolic assistance to boost your body’s ability to detoxify effectively. 

Fact 10: Fat freezing is only as efficient as you are 

We have established that maintaining a good lifestyle is key to maintaining good fat freezing results. But what exactly does this entail?

  • Maintaining an active lifestyle: if you have not already, it is time to commit to one. A sedentary lifestyle will reverse the progress made with fat freezing. Exercise is key in boosting your metabolism [14] and is essential in helping your body flush out the wastes broken down from the fat freezing procedure. 
  • Healthy diet: clients do not need to go into a caloric deficit after the fat freezing procedure. However, avoiding fat-saturated food, foods with high sugar content, and alcohol will go a long way to optimise the results yielded. This also includes hydrating yourself sufficiently, as your body will eliminate waste through urination. Whilst a regimented diet is unnecessary, a balanced one is non-negotiable. 
  • Prioritising sleep: sleep deprivation will damage your progress significantly as it causes metabolism dysregulation [15]. Insufficient sleep will disrupt your metabolism, reducing the efficacy of fat freezing treatment. If you suffer from sleep deprivation, we recommend practising good sleep hygiene and nailing a good sleep routine to maximise fat freezing benefits. 
Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation can negatively impact fat loss capabilities. 

With these 10 facts about fat freezing in hand, we hope we have enabled you to make an informed decision if you are looking to pursue a fat freezing procedure. You will also be able to maximise your fat freezing procedure and make the most of your buck. If you are still interested in losing your stubborn fat, contact us now to arrange an appointment, and you will be one step closer to your dream physique. 

References

  1. Sydney R Coleman, K. S. (2009). Clinical efficacy of noninvasive cryolipolysis and its effects on peripheral nerves. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, DOI: 10.1007/s00266-008-9286-8.
  2. Christine C Dierickx, J.-M. M. (2013). Safety, tolerance, and patient satisfaction with noninvasive cryolipolysis. Dermatologic Surgery, doi: 10.1111/dsu.12238.
  3.  Marília Bueno Savacini, D. T. (2018). Effectiveness and Safety of Contrast Cryolipolysis for Subcutaneous-Fat Reduction. Dermatology Research and Practice, doi: 10.1155/2018/5276528.
  4. Nick P. Barry, S. R.-F. (2023). Cold burns as a result of cosmetic cryolipolysis: An emerging concern from the NSW Statewide Burn Injury Service. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjps.2022.10.053.
  5.  I Lym Chan, S. C. (2019). Characteristics and management of Asian skin. International Journal of Dermatology, doi: 10.1111/ijd.14153.
  6. H. Ray Jalian, M. M. (2014). Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia After Cryolipolysis. JAMA Dermatology, doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.8071.
  7.  Selina M Singh, E. R. (2015). Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia secondary to cryolipolysis: An underreported entity? Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, doi: 10.1002/lsm.22380.
  8. Ayaka Nishikawa, Y. A. (2021). Quantitative Assessment of the Cryolipolysis Method for Body Contouring in Asian Patients. Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigation Dermatology, doi: 10.2147/CCID.S337487.
  9.  Lázaro Cárdenas-Camarena, L.-P. A.-M. (2017). Strategies for Reducing Fatal Complications in Liposuction. PRS Global Open, doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000001539.
  10. FDA. (2022, 7 December). Non-Invasive Body Contouring Technologies. Retrieved from FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/aesthetic-cosmetic-devices/non-invasive-body-contouring-technologies
  11.  D G Carey, T. V. (1996). Genetic influences on central abdominal fat: a twin study. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders , 722-726.
  12. Sachin S Vispute, J. D. (2011). The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181fb4a46.
  13. Riddhi Ramanlal, V. G. (2023). Physiology, Vasodilation. Florida: StatPearls.
  14. Watson, S. (2023, July 18). How to Boost Your Metabolism With Exercise. Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/how-to-boost-your-metabolism
  15. Sunil Sharma, M. K. (2010). Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview. International Journal of Endocrinology, doi: 10.1155/2010/270832.

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