In recent years, a number of modalities have become available for the noninvasive reduction of adipose tissue, including cryolipolysis, radiofrequency, low-level laser, and high-intensity focused ultrasound. Each technology employs a different mechanism of action to cause apoptosis or necrosis of the targeted adipocytes. Among these technologies, cryolipolysis has not only been commercially available for the longest time, but has also been best researched including in vitro and animal models and randomized controlled clinical trials in humans.
The principle behind cryolipolysis exploits the premise that adipocytes are more susceptible to cooling than other skin cells. The precise application of cold temperatures triggers apoptosis of the adipocytes, which invokes an inflammatory response and leads to slow digestion by surrounding macrophages. In clinical studies, cryolipolysis was shown to reduce subcutaneous fat at the treatment site by up to 25% after one treatment. Improvements were seen in 86% of treated subjects. At 73%, the patient satisfaction rate is higher than with other technologies used for noninvasive lipolysis.
Cryolipolysis has been proven to be a very safe method for body contouring, and is accomplished with only minimal discomfort. Expected side effects are temporary erythema, bruising, and transient numbness that usually resolve within 14 days after treatment. With a prevalence of 0.1%, the most common complaint is late-onset pain, occurring 2 weeks post-procedure, which resolves without intervention. Although no procedure has been accepted as the gold standard for noninvasive body contouring as yet, cryolipolysis is considered to be both safe and efficient with a high patient satisfaction rate.