Before we can understand where the fat goes during CoolSculpting®, we first must understand what it is.
What is CoolSculpting®?
CoolSculpting is a non-invasive procedure that is FDA approved that helps remove targeted fat in certain areas such as abdomen, flanks, buttocks, upper back, neck, and medial thighs by freezing the fat off. When I say non-invasive, I mean that it does not require a scalpel to cut like other surgical procedures. Anesthesia is not required, no cutting means no incision equals no scarring, and therefore there is zero-down time. While other procedures such as liposuction, require cutting you, anesthesia, and time off to recover. You can literally get a CoolSculpting session done during your lunch break and then return to your work office that same day.
Now, it is important to understand that CoolSculpting is not body contouring, it does not transform your body, and only really removes a modest amount of residual fat. If you are seeking body contouring such as High Definition 360 Body contouring transformation, then please read my other blogs on liposuction and high definition VASER.
The results of CoolSculpting is notably successful for individuals who have already matched their ideal body weight index (BMI) which is usually less than 25 or are close to their ideal body weight index (25-28 BMI). This procedure targets those small areas of what I like to call “baby fat” that cannot get eliminated from your already rigorous diet and exercise routine. It is proven that it can remove up to 20-25% of your fat in that targeted area.
How Does CoolSculpting Work?
So, how does it work? CoolSculpting works by freezing your fat cells in a process called Cryolipolysis. Cryo meaning cold, lipo meaning fat, and lysis meaning cell death, cold-fat-death. Just like any living thing on earth, there is an ideal temperature in which organisms must function. For example, as you may already know, the ideal body temperature for humans is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, our fat cells also like to live around that same temperature. In CoolSculpting, we take a large wand and place it above those targeted areas at a temperature for be freezing for fat cells. As a result, fat cells die. So, how does our body get rid of the fat cells?
So Where Do Dead Fat Cells Go After CoolSculpting?
When your fat cells die, they become foreign debris as far as your body is concerned. Just like any other debris, our immune system is triggered and is then alerted to start a cascade of events.
One way to picture this is a typical virus such as the cold virus, also known commonly as the rhinovirus. When the cold virus enters our body, our immune system is triggered. Specifically, for viruses, our eosinophils, which is a type of a white blood cell, are triggered. These eosinophil cells then trigger two specific cells. The B Cell, and the T Cell. The B cell is known to help make antibodies which help to prevent that same virus from attacking in the future. The T cell works with your lymphatic system and starts a cascade process to eliminate the virus. Your T Cells are essential to keeping things moving out of the body that could cause you to get sick.
There are numerous ways to eliminate a virus or other foreign debris. One way is by engulfing the virus by a specific cell, such cells are called macrophages. Again, macrophages are alerted to the site of the virus or debris by our T cells. They then engulf the debris by literally surrounding it, just like “Pac-man” surrounds those little dots on the classic arcade game. After they digest the debris, they then eliminate it through our lymphatic system. Our lymphatic system is a pipeline of vessels that have a few functions. Two important functions are:
- To eliminate unwanted waste as well as maintaining our bodily fluids by creating an equal balance.
- Sending waste to your bladder and is eventually urinated out of our system.
This is essentially where fat cells go after CoolSculpting. As you can picture, up to 25% of fat can be successfully removed in multiple targeted areas.
It is important to understand that you will not lose your ideal weight after one day from your CoolSculpting session. It takes a few weeks for our immune system to properly respond to the fat debris and eliminate it through our lymphatic system. There are ways to speed up the waste removal process like drinking more water or having lymphatic drainage massages but the process will happen naturally over time.
What Is The Downside CoolSculpting?
Of note, there is a drawback to this procedure, especially for men. Aside from its limitation around ad etching and the limited amount of fat that it works for, a small number of people respond by developing Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia (PAH). PAH manifests in symptoms such as a hard, usually painless mass in the treated area. The name highlights the growth of fat to a larger mass than the area rather than a reduction. The mass tends to be shaped like a smaller version of the CoolSculpting tool (see pictures in this link). You are more at risk for PAH if you:
- Are male
- Are Hispanic
- Have a higher BMI or more fat than recommended
- Have the procedure in the abdomen area
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