Freezing Belly Fat

-Dr.Dianne McCallister, Chief Medical Officer at Porter Adventist Hospital

A new tool has been approved by the FDA in the fight against love handles and other small collections of fat.

Cool Sculpting - a procedure that uses cold to get rid of fat - has been approved by the FDA, and billboards are up around town advertising the availability of this new procedure. What is it - and how does it work?

Cool sculpting was developed at a lab at Harvard based on research that fat cells are more susceptible to cold than normal cells. Unlike liposuction, which is invasive, this procedure does not require any needles or knives.

The area of excess fat is cooled, and then this starts a process called apoptosis in the fat cells - meaning that the cells die.

The process takes a couple of weeks to start, and the full results are seen over a period of 2-4 months.

Medical literature shows between a 20 %, up to 80%, reduction in fat in the treated areas. The catch is that this is NOT a weight loss method.

This is specifically to be used in people who are at their normal body weight - who exercise and eat right - to get rid of the little remaining collections of fat.

Is It Safe?

Remarkably, there are very few side effects to this procedure - the main ones are some discomfort in the area, some numbness and possibly redness. There is no change in levels of fat in the patients bloodwork.

This procedure is also remarkable in that it does not require any recovery period.

One word of caution is that this has only been FDA approved for a few months. Often, we dont see all the side effects of the procedure until it has been widely used for a period of time - much like we see with drugs that are used, and then more side effects found.

A check of the FDA website did produce a report by a patient of a great deal of pain after the procedure.

Other Ways Of Reducing Fat Deposits

Obviously, weight loss and exercise help to reduce fat.

Other procedures that reduce fat deposits include liposuction, and laser liposuction - both of which require anesthesia and an incision, and have a recovery time, and can have some serious medical consequences.

How To Prepare For The Procedure

First, you should exercise and diet down to to a normal body weight, because this may avoid the need for a procedure.

If you are going to have the procedure done, you should make an appointment with your physician to be sure you are healthy - and then you should go to a reputable physician with certification of training in the procedure.

It is a good idea to interview more than one physician before making a decision.

Dr. McCallister is on 7NEWS at 11 a.m. every Wednesday. If you have a topic or question you would like her to discuss, email

Print this article Back to Top