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I've been hearing advertisements for a new fat reduction treatment called CoolSculpting, in which areas of fat are brought down to below the freezing point of fat but above the freezing point of water, causing the fat to freeze and destroy the fat cells while the non-fat cells remain unaffected.

This makes me wonder, couldn't one just spend time in an icebath? Various sources spread throughout the internet, most notably plastic surgeons, answer this with the trivial, "No! The CoolSculpting device is special and safe, and any method of cryolipolysis not using the device would be dangerous!" but from a medical perspective, why not?

This is the point where I explicitly say ice baths can cause hypothermia and a host of other issues, so I'm definitely not recommending it personally, but medically, wouldn't time with the torso in an ice bath, with a wetsuit/drysuit covering the legs and groin, have the same effect as CoolSculpting, but for thousands of times lower cost?

  • I can imagine that it only works if it can target just adipose tissue cells, since there is fat in all cell membranes - most notably skin, for example. I can't see how they can avoid the skin unless they insert a probe or something into the abdominal fat pad and cause the freezing around the probe. Otherwise bringing tissues down to near freezing can cause general tissue damage to the skin around it... – DoctorWhom Sep 4 '17 at 9:43
  • @DoctorWhom First I would like to appreciate your attention to grammar. Most Whovians seem to struggle with it when referring to the topic of their affection. More on topic, from what I've gleaned about the procedure, it causes crystallization in the fat itself causing sufficient damage to cellular integrity as to trigger apoptosis. Because most cell membranes don't have anywhere near enough fat to cause this type of reaction, non-adipose tissues are apparently quite safe. In the CoolSculpting procedure, a pad is applied to the skin which transfers the cold, no probe needed. Make a difference? – TheEnvironmentalist Sep 6 '17 at 14:42

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