Non-invasive procedure freezes unwanted fat



Posted on February 23, 2010 at 6:40 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

SEATTLE -- If you're bothered by troublesome rolls and bulges but don't like the idea of needles and liposuction, there's a new procedure from Europe that uses extreme cold to get rid of fat.

Now it's available in the U.S. Here's how it works.

"I've always hated this back flank I have," said Michelle Norris. "I've always tried exercise and anything I could to try to get rid of it and just could never make it go away."

Norris wasn't interested in liposuction, but then she heard about something new: the Zeltiq procedure.

"The science behind the procedure is called cryolipolysis and what that means is that by subjecting fat cells to cold enough temperatures -- actually make them freeze -- will end up destroying them," said Dr. Sam Naficy. "The way this machine works is that you just get a nice roll of fat, that it can actually get sucked into the applicator of the machine."

A gel pad is draped over the area to protect the skin. Then the vacuum device is attached and stays in place for one hour.

"I'm just very conscious of it grabbing. It's like a very tight vice, but it's not uncomfortable," said Naficy.

Then comes the cold, which has a numbing effect.

"The ideal candidate is someone who is otherwise fit, in decent shape, but just has a problem area, just has some excess abdominal fat, or some love handles or what some patients call the 'muffin top,' said Naficy.

Results are not immediate. Dr. Naficy is the first in the Northwest to use the Zeltiq procedure. He supplied before and after photos which were taken about three months apart. 

An hour later, Norris's right side is finished.

"It's just so unbelievable cold and there's no sensation," she said. "I'm touching my skin but I can't feel it."

And how was it?

"You're very conscious of it being grasped, and then actually quite frankly you forget about it. I did my emails. As far as everyone is concerned, I'm at the office today," laughs Norris.

Zeltiq is still awaiting FDA approval for fat removal, but doctors can use it off-label. The cost is $1,300 to treat both sides of the body. Some patients may need to have a repeat session three months later, which will add another $700 to the cost.

For more information, log on to the Zeltiq and the Naficy Web sites.