Cryolipolysis: A promising nonsurgical technique for localized fat reduction

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2023 Nov:22 Suppl 3:1-7. doi: 10.1111/jocd.16039.


Background: Cryolipolysis, also known as fat freezing, is a nonsurgical technique specialized for localized fat reduction. Utilizing targeted cold exposure to adipose tissue, cryolipolysis devices induce cellular apoptosis in adipocytes while sparing surrounding tissues, resulting in the selective disruption of fat cells and subsequent removal of damaged cells by macrophages. A reduction of the fat layer produces a noninvasive cosmetic benefit that provides an accessible alternative to liposuction. Objective and subjective measurements have demonstrated significant reduction in fat volume and high patient satisfaction rates. Cryolipolysis has been proven to be safe with minimal adverse effects. However, further research is needed to fully understand the mechanism of cryolipolysis and its efficacy in different treatment areas. This paper aims to provide a comprehensive overview of cryolipolysis, including its mechanism of action, indications, contraindications, adverse effects, results and outcomes, safety profile, and areas requiring further research.

Methods: Our primary phase of literature review consisted of a PubMed search looking for all published literature around cryolipolysis. We employed a review approach that examined over 30 papers with the key search terms of "cryolipolysis," "fat-freezing," "cosmetic dermatology," "body contouring," "adverse effects," "adipocyte apoptosis," "Coolsculpting®," "cold panniculitis," and "localized fat reduction." We then analyzed each paper, extracting relevant information to gain a multidimensional understanding of cryolipolysis to provide a comprehensive review.

Conclusion: Cryolipolysis, with its ability to target and reduce localized adipose tissue, has emerged as a promising nonsurgical technique in the field of body contouring. It offers patients a valuable option for achieving their desired fat reduction without the need for a lengthy recovery period or major surgery. Cryolipolysis has shown to reduce the number of adipocytes in the treated area, a phenomenon that can be objectively quantified through various means, including fat caliper measurements, ultrasound assessments, and 3D imaging, or subjectively observed through patient satisfaction rates, clinical observations, and investigator assessments. In addition to its effectiveness in reducing localized adipose tissue, cryolipolysis also holds potential in the area of skin tightening. Preliminary studies suggest that cryolipolysis may have a positive impact on skin elasticity and tightening. Further investigation of this mechanism is needed to provide a better understanding of its potential in achieving optimal cosmetic outcomes for patients. By combining the benefits of fat reduction and skin tightening, cryolipolysis has the potential to offer a comprehensive nonsurgical solution for body contouring.

Keywords: adverse effect; cool sculpting; cosmetic dermatology; cryolipolysis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Cryotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Cryotherapy* / methods
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia / etiology
  • Lipectomy* / adverse effects
  • Lipectomy* / methods
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Subcutaneous Fat / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome