Can I Freeze Fat to Lose Weight?

Learn the difference between popular methods to eliminate fat

using ice to freeze your fat off
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Guess what happens when you freeze your fat? In some cases, the fat cells die and the fat bulge goes away. But in other cases, nothing really happens. The key to success when you're trying to freeze away fat is to choose the right method.

The Most Popular Way to "Freeze" Your Fat

One of the most popular methods to eliminate stubborn fat bulges is with a method called CoolSculpting. This FDA-approved procedure is comfortable for most people, doesn't require surgery and it is performed in a doctor's office under close supervision.

So how does CoolSculpting work? During each 45-minute procedure, specific fat bulges are identified and targeted by your physician. Typical trouble spots include the abdomen, thighs or "muffin top" area. Then the fat is gently pulled between two cooling panels and heat is removed from the cells. This causes the fat cells to die over a period of a few weeks.

CoolSculpting is not effective as a weight loss solution and isn't effective for people who are obese. There are some rare side effects that your doctor will discuss with you and you may require more than one treatment to get your desired result. But clinical studies have shown the method is effective at reducing fat in trouble spots that are resistant to diet and exercise.

Other Ways to Freeze Fat

So if freezing fat works in a doctor's office, why can't you just freeze away fat at home? After all, the medical procedure can cost thousands of dollars if you are getting multiple fat bulges reduced.

It would seem reasonable to just ice away those trouble spots at home. 

If you're an active weight loss consumer, you've likely seem personal products that use cold and ice to freeze your fat. But they may not work like you expect and according to a few experts, you may not get your desired result.

  • Contouring Shorts. One popular product, Cool Shapes Contouring Shorts, claims to help you freeze away fat with the use of frozen gel packs applied to your belly, back or thighs. But the product doesn't use the same medical technology as CoolSculpting. "The CoolSculpt machine has an applicator that incorporates suction with it," says board-certified plastic surgeon Michael Fiorillo who performs CoolSculpting in his New York City office. "In my opinion," he says, "you wouldn't get the same result with a take home device."  And other experts agree.  At, three board-certified physicians point out that simply applying ice to your skin would be ineffective for fat loss and potentially harmful to your skin.
  • Brown Fat Vests. You may also see cooling garments that are either stored in your freezer or packed with ice to help you activate brown fat to lose weight. Many of the ads for these products provide extensive links to scientific research about brown fat activation - which may be able to boost your metabolism. But even though there have been hundreds of studies investigating the potential of using brown fat to lose weight, many of the studies have been performed on mice. Human studies conducted so far have shown inconclusive results. In a recent statement about brown fat, biomedical researcher Eric Ravussin, Ph.D. said "although there is some hope, it's not going to be the magical bullet for losing weight."

So should you freeze away fat at home or head to the doctor's office to eliminate your bulges? The decision is up to you, but both procedures come with a price. Before you decide which method is best for you, be sure to ask smart consumer questions about risks, costs, and possible refund procedures to keep your body - and your wallet - safe and healthy.

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