The term ‘cryo’, comes from the Green kruos meaning ‘frost’ and by definition ‘involves or produces cold, especially extreme cold’, according to Google Dictionary. In this article, we’ll examine whether cold therapy can be beneficial for fat loss, and evaluate the science behind the trend.
Cryolipolysis, also known as fat freezing or CoolSculpting, involves freezes body fat cells in order to shrink them in size. It sounds like a serious medical procedure, but it’s noninvasive and nonsurgical that can be done within 35 to 60 minutes by an esthetician.
When fat cells are frozen, they pass through the liver and are excreted in the urine over the weeks following the procedure. Since it was approved by the FDA in 2010 as a fat loss procedure, the number of treatments has risen by 823 percent according to a study published by the Aesthetic Surgery Journal in 2013.
But what does the science say?
A study that evaluated the efficacy of cryolipolysis concluded that it decreased subcutaneous fat by up to 25 percent in participants and these effects lasted for six months post-treatment. However, it’s not without complications.
Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) is a complication of cryolipolysis that causes an area of fat to harden and increase in size, leaving a raised mass from the skin similar to a tumor. In a review by the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, one in every 138 treatments will result in PAH, an incidence rate of approximately 0.72 percent.
While this incidence rate is low, it puts into question whether this new procedure is yet to be totally understood in terms of side effects and any lasting impact on its patients. This is particularly important when it is considered that the majority of research in support of cryolipolysis is funded by the manufacturer, as discussed in a 2015 non-bias review of the method.