Zeltiq – Noninvasive Fat Loss – Too Good To Be True? No…

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.

Do I think this works?

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.:

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Posted in: Plastic Surgery News


  1. I can't understand how they can feel comfortable making claims like 22.4% fat loss when their before and after pictures look almost exactly the same… maybe then added an extra "2" by mistake and then meant to say "2.4%"?

    The results they show could easily be attributable to simply losing a few pounds over the month long course of treatments, or to the natural fluctuation in water retention that happens to all of us.

    Most of the time though, seeing any actual differences in the before and after's takes ALOT of imagination… and maybe some beer goggles 🙂

    Comment by MAS on May 29, 2010 at 7:58 am

  2. This might be appropriate for candidates with very minimal fat excesses, say over the knees in an otherwise slim person. I'd be game to try it for that area.

    Comment by Rosina at Middle Ageless on May 30, 2010 at 4:29 pm

  3. MAS,

    Several of my very thin friends who have had children have gained an inch or two in the waist. Losing a few pounds isn't the answer when you are 5'9" and weigh 127 lbs, you'd become emaciated if you went much below that.

    I actually asked my doctor about this today. He has seen very good results with it. The women were like me, very thin, quite fit, but with that tiny post-baby pooch that doesn't go away with any amount of workouts/sport. I am going to try this. My pre-baby very tailored clothes don't fit well anymore, and I want to be back in them. I have been done breast feeding for a few years, so the baby fat seemed to be permanent – until now!

    Comment by Anonymous on June 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm

  4. I’ve no time for people who eat like pigs after which try to find magic pills, diets and programs. When you eat too much, you will end up fat no mater what. And i am not particularly slim but I do run and feel healthy, without feeling hungry constantly. Get a grip folks!

    Comment by Julietta Geohagan on November 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm

  5. I have read about Zerona, do you think it works?

    Comment by Karina on January 20, 2011 at 7:00 am

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