Healthy Living

New treatment claims to freeze the fat away

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's the latest in the battle against the bulge - a new procedure that claims to freeze off your fat.

It's not for big weight loss, but it may help trim love handles and slim down that dreaded muffin top.

Nick Catinazzo works out and eats right. Yet he says he's unhappy with a little bit of fat around his hips that he can't get rid of.

"I'd like to get rid of that little fat area on the sides. I eat right and I do everything right but again, I can't get rid of it," said Catinazzo.

So, he decided to try a new body shaping treatment called Zeltiq that claims to freeze the fat away.

"As a result of the cooling, the fat cells basically stop functioning as they normally do, and the fats are thereby released over time. It's metabolized as your fat would be metabolized let's say if you were eating a cheeseburger," said Dr. Mathew Avram, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital dermatology department.

Zeltiq uses a gel patch so a machine gets a good seal on the skin, and it takes about an hour. People usually report feeling a "pulling" sensation, but no pain.

Doctors are quick to point out that this is not a procedure for weight loss. It falls under the category of body contouring for people who want to lose an inch or two off the body. It also won't tighten saggy skin.

Zeltiq was just recently approved by the FDA for cosmetic use. But Dr. John Di Saia, a board certified plastic surgeon in Orange County, says FDA approval alone doesn't guarantee results.

"FDA approval basically means something is safe, first and foremost. It doesn't really say a whole lot regarding how effective something is," said Di Saia.

Another Zeltiq patient, Lisa Pitonyak, had a tummy bulge that just wouldn't go away. She tried Zeltiq and was happy with the outcome. She says she lost half an inch.

Because the fat is slowly released through the body, it can up to 2 months to see results.

Dr. Di Saia says it's too early to tell if Zeltiq will be effective long term.

"The problem with any of these body fat reductive technologies really is the tendency for people to feel like what they did wasn't worth what they paid. So my tendency is to basically wait for safe and reliable almost every single time," said Di Saia.

Zeltiq costs about $1,500 per area and isn't covered by insurance.

If you're thinking about getting it done, experts recommend you see a board certified plastic surgeon or a dermatologist and keep your expectations realistic.

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