Fat busting treatments that are non-invasive, low-risk and with no down time have come a long way in recent years. If liposuction sounds too scary, or too costly, a couple of hours in a clinic for a non-knife treatment like cryolipolysis (fat freezing) or radiofrequency that can safely and effectively eliminate fat can sound enticing.
But with a host of different devices and technologies out there, knowing what is worth the money can be tough. MyFaceMyBody has put 2 of the best body contouring technologies, radiofrequency and cryolipolysis, head to head to see which is best for blasting fat.
First, how do they work?
Well they’re actually very similar, but polar opposites at the same time. They both work by killing off fat cells, which your body naturally eliminates via the lymphatic system and liver and finally out in your pee.
Where they differ is in temperature: radiofrequency kills the fat cells by heating them up, while cryolipolysis works by freezing the cells.
“The reason both treatments can be used selectively on fat is because fat cells don’t have much water in them so it makes them very sensitive to these treatments”, explains Medstars medical consultant Dr Sophie Shotter, who offers CoolSculpting cryolipolysis in her clinic Illuminate Skin Clinic.
Radiofrequency also triggers the body’s natural wound healing responses, which makes you produce more collagen, so it’s a great treatment for skin tightening as well as body contouring.
Best for results?
It’s tough to say, because each treatment has different benefits and might be more suitable depending on the results you’re after. Dr Shotter doesn’t offer radio frequency herself, but says she sends patients to another clinic for radiofrequency if she thinks they would benefit from that rather than cryolipolysis, such as if they have excess skin or a smooth area of fat that needs treating uniformly.
“The CoolSculpting device is designed to treat pockets of fat, but it can be hard to reduce fat uniformly”, she explains. “Whereas the radio frequency is an applicator that you hold over what can be quite a large area. So that can be used to treat someone with more uniform fat.”
Marsha Starcevic uses MFMB Award winning device the Exilis Elite at her north London clinic The Aesthetic Lab. “It’s just brining fantastic results”, she says. She has been using it on herself too; she had a baby 10 months ago and as well as having some excess fat around her stomach there was also some loose skin that she wanted to firm up. “I’ve already noticed I’ve done two sessions and I’m already noticing that I’m a size smaller than I was previously. For me it’s really good”, she says.
Best for time?
With radiofrequency for body contouring you’ll need 4-8 sessions to see optimism results. Cryolipolysis usually needs only 1 or 2. In both cases, the results take some time to appear. “For cryotherapy, I usually tell people to expect maximum results 2-3 months on,” says Dr Shotter. “But they may start to see something earlier. With radio frequency, it’s not dissimilar. Some people can notice that their skin may feel a bit different after 1 session, but you often need a few sessions before you start to see anything too visible.”
Best for pain and risks?
Both treatments are non-invasive and there’s no downtime, but do expect a little bit of redness and swelling. “From CoolSculpting you can get some soreness that comes on a little bit later so expect some discomfort, potentially”, says Dr Shotter.
There is the odd horror story about cryolipolysis. “I’ve seen pictures of horrendous ulcers where people have been given frostbite by a machine that isn’t safe to use”, Dr Shotter says. These sorts of cases are more likely to occur when either the machine or the practitioner (or both) are not up to standard. To avoid this, do your homework.
Before you make a final decision…
Do… check the brand of device your practitioner is using. Not all cryo or radiofrequency machines are created equal. Dr Shotter explains that there are many copy-cat cryolipolysis machines to be wary of, and that CoolSculpting is FDA approved. “It’s tricky to pick the pedigree of the device, and I don’t envy people having to pick where to go for their treatment. But the one thing I would say is don’t be lead by price,” she adds.
Don’t… think of these procedures as weight loss treatments. It’s more a case of shifting a stubborn bit of fat that exercise and diet just won’t budge, like on the lower stomach, flanks and thighs. And in most of clinical studies for these treatments, patients saw inch loss but not much weight loss. If you’re just interested in dropping KGs (and you don’t want a surgical procedure like a gastric band, then the best thing is good old fashioned diet and exercise.