One of the hottest things in plastic surgery today, and what I consider the Holy Grail of plastic surgery, is Noninvasive Fat Loss. One of the latest to claim this is Zeltiq. This is a device which is FDA approved in the U.S. for other purposes, but many physicians are using it 'off-label' to remove fat without needles or surgery. How does it work?
Zeltiq chills the surface temperature of the skin, causing the fat below it to become irreversibly damaged. The body's natural clearing mechanisms then get rid of the fat over time, creating actual inch loss. According to an introductory study:
- Subjects were comfortable during the procedure and did not require pain medication.
- Cryolipolysis results in a visible contour change in a majority of subjects.
- 100% of a subset of ultrasound-evaluated subjects demonstrated a measurable reduction; the average for the group was 22.4% fat layer reduction 4 months post-procedure.
- Noticeable cosmetic efficacy was more consistently observed in properly selected subjects.
- 27 of 28 (96%) properly selected subjects (discrete fat bulges) had discernable efficacy.
Actually, yes. We've seen in certain types of reconstructive surgery (such as pressure sores) that the skin is much more resistant to damage than the underlying fat. Therefore, it makes sense that the chilling can destroy the fat but leave the skin viable. The before and after photos I've seen, however, have not been very impressive. 22.4% fat loss is pretty modest compared to what can be achieved with liposuction. For now, I consider it a modality with promise but limited effectiveness. It may be helpful for people who are not good candidates for liposuction.
For more on Zeltiq, click here for their website.
Thanks for reading.
Michigan-based Plastic Surgeon
Anthony Youn, M.D.: