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CoolSculpting by Zeltiq: Targeted Cold Therapy Takes Inches Away

Patients can see inches disappear using Zeltiq, the latest in non-surgical fat reduction.

Nobody wants to have surgery unnecessarily, and this is even showing to be true of cosmetic surgery. Many patients will avoid surgery as long as they can reasonably expect a decent result - even if it means the results aren't as dramatic and they have to wait longer to see their final result. One of the latest devices for inch loss is Zeltiq and it works by using cold therapy to target fat cells. The question many patients have is does it work and if so, how?

The Zeltiq device kills fat cells by dropping the temperature to just above freezing causing the fat to crystallize and die, and it doesn't cause any damage to the skin. Dr. William Groff, a board certified dermatologist who performs CoolSculpting in La Jolla, CA, showed us the device's hand piece, which is placed on the treatment area and suctions in the skin which is sandwiched between two cold plates. As Dr. Groff demonstrates, "There are two opposing plates and these plates gets very very cold - very close to freezing actually. Imagine all of your fat and skin is sucked up into this device, these two cooling plates bring the temperature down to near freezing for an hour. Now, an hour is a long enough period of time that it will actually destroy the fat cells but it won't harm your skin at all."

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Actual results of Dr. Richard Fitzpatrick and Dr. William Groff of La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre


It is important to consider who the ideal patient is for this treatment. It isn't intended for the very large and is more well suited for the generally fit and thin who have a small problematic area that exercise just won't quite get rid of. Zeltiq only treats the outermost layer of fat, so those who are large won't see much benefit. As Dr. Groff describes, "My ideal candidate is a man or a woman who works out, they diet, they've done what they can but they just have these stubborn areas of fat that won't seem to go away." Dr. Groff has seen patients from their 20's all the way to their 60's and says as long as they don't have loose skin and they fit within the proper fitness guidelines, they are all candidates.

The size of the area that can be treated is limited by the size of the hand piece, but for most patients, the love handles or inner thighs can be treated with ease. "The hand piece is pretty large, it's almost the size of my head really, but the inside is big enough to accommodate a love handle for example on one side. Usually, if we're going to treat someone's abdomen, we'll have to apply this to two separate areas on the abdomen, one on the left and one on the right, and that will take the entire lower abdomen in, but for inner thighs for example, one treatment usually on each thigh will do the job."

Patients don't need any anesthesia or even numbing cream for the treatment and are able to go back to work and other daily activities - without restriction - right away. Results are seen in a few months as the body naturally expels the dead fat cells. The device has been used in Europe for many years and has finished FDA trials in the US, but has not yet received official approval for body contouring.