What is Cryolipolysis?

Cryolipolysis is what CoolSculpting is based on. The term is a combination of the prefix “cryo”, which means frost or icy cold, and “lipolysis”, which means the breakdown of lipids (fats or fatty acids).  Put those two words together and you have the meaning of cryolipolysis: the breakdown of fat with cold temperatures.

Cryolipolysis was first discovered back in 1970, by two scientists named E. H. Epstein and M. E.  Orenis. During a clinical observation they discovered that an infant developed a hardened red nodule of fat in its cheek after sucking on a popsicle. This nodule of crystallized fat gradually became necrotic, which basically means the fat died. The process was named “popsicle panniculitis” by the scientists. While this was only described in infants at first, further studies have found it to develop in adults as well.

As a result of these observations, scientists discovered that lipid-rich tissues (tissues that have a lot of fat in them) get injured by cold temperatures more easily than surrounding tissues that have more water in them. Therefore, non-fatty tissues, such as the skin, nerves, vessels, and muscles, are all spared.

Based on this research, scientists developed a noninvasive treatment to eliminate fat with freezing, and in 2007, the term cryolipolysis was coined. And that’s how CoolSculpting was developed.

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