Stubborn pockets of fat often evade the best laid exercise and nutrition plans, clinging to our bodies despite our healthy habits. For years, liposuction was the last resort to rid oneself of this unwanted flesh. But in the past decade a new procedure has bypassed the needles and knives of traditional cosmetic surgery, offering a path to fat loss that, in most cases, involves no more discomfort than a chill followed by numbness.
Cryolipolysis is the technical name for the procedure, which uses cold (“cryo,” in ancient Greek) to induce fat breakdown (“lipolysis”). In general, fat cells are forever — they only shrink as you lose weight, never fully disappearing. You can, of course, physically remove them through liposuction. But now you can also kill them by lowering their temperature to the point of cell death (about -11 Celsius).
Also known by the trademark name CoolSculpting, this nonsurgical alternative requires no anaesthesia, and a single session lasts only about half an hour. “The great thing about CoolSculpting is it’s really a lunchtime procedure,” says Neera Nathan, a dermatology instructor at Harvard University. “It really is quite simple, it’s not very painful, and it’s effective.” Within three or four months of treatment, patients typically drop 15-30 percent of their fat in the targeted area.
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