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Zeltiq: Cold Therapy Freezes Your Fat Away

Application of cold is shown to shrink spot fat deposits.

Cryolipolysis, or Zeltiq, is a new method of removing fat that is completely surgery free. Cold is applied to the treatment area, and over time, inches fall away. Zeltiq is not yet FDA approved in the US, but it is currently undergoing testing, and it has been used in Europe for many years.

zerona before and after pictures
Zeltiq results of Dr. Lori Brightman


Dr. Lori Brightman of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York works with Zeltiq and says it works by, "actually extracting heat from the fat cells, and your body's natural reaction to the inflammation that's created is to slowly dissolve those fat cells over time." She advises, "This is a good treatment for love handles, back fat, little lower poochy belly."

One of the first physicians to work with cold as a means of lipolysis is Dr. Rox Anderson, who has made significant strides over the years in the use of lasers in medical therapy. He said "there's a very rare condition where newborn children who are accidentally exposed to cold will suffer injury, and what's interesting is only the fat will die and regress. The kids are fine, but you end up with skinny kids - in the area that's been contacted with cold - and we got very curious, once I started thinking about fat, well what is that, how does it work? And is it only in babies or can you make it work in adults? "

Upon further research, Dr. Anderson discovered that the fat crystallizes. He explains it, "the best analogy is a stick of butter that has a lot of fat in it. If you leave it out at room temperature for a while, it spreads easily and you can easily butter your toast with it, but when you first get it out of the refrigerator, it's pretty solid. When you look at, let's say the milk in your refrigerator, it doesn't do that. What's going on with a stick of butter is that the fat molecules crystallize, they 'freeze' if you will at a much higher temperature than water does. In your body, fat is by far the richest lipid tissue and it undergoes the same transition."
zeltiq before and after
Zeltiq Results of Dr. Christopher Zachary


The treatment involves no pain, as Dr. Brightman describes, "It's not very uncomfortable. It just feels like a cold application on your skin's surface, and a suction." The treatment itself is pretty straight forward. "You take the applicator and you put it on the patient's area that they're targeting. It creates a suction which pulls the skin in to the suction applicator, and then they'll start to feel the cooling of their skin." The applicator stays on for an hour per applicator, but different areas may require different time commitments.

According to a presentation from Dr. Christopher Zachary, Professor and Chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of California at Irvine, "The interim results from this initial multi-center study of love handles demonstrated that the Zeltiq cryolipolysis procedure provided a significant fat layer reduction with minimal subject discomfort."

Full results aren't visible until about 4 months post procedure, which is a benefit if you prefer that no one know what treatments you may or may not have had. It is not a treatment for those who have a significant amount of fat to lose, but rather is for those with small pockets of fat.