By now, you’ve probably heard of CoolSculpting, the only FDA cleared, non-invasive treatment that targets and freezes away hard-to-treat fat cells.
If not, here’s a quick refresher from the brand on what you’re missing.
That’s right, it’s possible to freeze away fat cells.
But don’t run to the store and start buying bags of ice in bulk. Just because it’s possible to freeze away fat cells, doesn’t mean you can do it yourself at home. It might sound really simple. Strap a couple of ice packs to your skin for a few hours and your love handles will be gone in no time.
Not quite. Not even remotely close, actually.
“Applying ice packs to your skin repeatedly can give your skin frostbite without actually affecting the underlying fat,” said Dr. Quenby Erickson, a Chicago dermatologic surgeon.
Not only can you not replicate the results of CoolSculpting with an ice pack, but if you try, you’re likely to give yourself frostbite or worse in the process.
While CoolSculpting works by permanently damaging fat cells with cold temperatures, it does so without damaging skin. Fat cells and normal cells freeze at different temperatures. CoolSculpting machines use controlled cooling to target the area to the freezing point of fat cells, but unlike a pack of ice on your stomach, avoid affecting or damaging the skin.
Related: Top 5 questions about CoolSculpting.
“CoolSculpting is a process of safe, gradual cooling that will target the fat cells and leave the skin, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels unharmed,” said Dr. Kris Reddy, a West Palm Beach, Florida, plastic surgeon. “An ice bag may not deliver enough cold to kill fat cells, and would probably damage the skin with prolonged exposure.”
This isn’t a risk vs. reward situation. As Dr. Reddy said, at-home attempts at CoolSculpting with ice are unlikely to even impact your fat cells. Zero reward and all of the risk of frostbite and other skin damage.
CoolSculpting isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it to take the safe route. Treatment costs average about $2,350 in the U.S. Your cost will depend on your geographic location, doctor’s skill level, the area you seek to treat, and how many treatments you need.
Forget the ice packs and leave the fat freezing to the professionals.