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Device that Kills Fat Cells by Cooling Them Gets FDA Approval

Device that Kills Fat Cells by Cooling Them Gets FDA Approval


A device that kills fat cells in an hour or less by cooling them has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The device may offer a noninvasive alternative to liposuction in the elimination of abdominal fat.

The CoolSculpting® system by Zeltiq Aesthetics, of Pleasanton, Calif., kills fat cells by cooling them to about 40 degrees for 30 to 60 minutes. This initiates a process that leads to the death of the fat cells, which the body then eliminates naturally.

Zeltiq is hoping CoolSculpting® will appeal as an alternative to liposuction, the procedure in which fat cells are suctioned from the body through tiny tubes inserted under the skin. Liposuction is among the most frequently performed cosmetic procedures.

Since CoolSculpting® is noninvasive, it is painless, and, unlike liposuction, requires no anesthetic and leaves no marks on the skin. Recovery is simply a matter of waiting for the dead fat cells to be eliminated from the body, which takes two to six weeks.

According to Dr. Christopher Zachary, chairman of the University of California, Irvine, Department of Dermatology, the formation of frozen crystals within the fat cells causes their death. "Keep them like this for 30 to 60 minutes," said Zachary, "and this induces programmed cell death, a gradual process whereby the fat cells just quietly disappear."

Clinical trials of the Zeltiq device showed a 20 to 25 percent reduction of treated abdominal fat deposits.

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