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News & Features Cryolipolysis effective for saddlebags

Freezing Fat Cells is Effective for 'Saddle Bags' or Outer Thighs

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American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
June 28, 2017

A nonsurgical procedure called cryolipolysis, which eliminates fat cells by freezing, is a safe and effective treatment for excess fat deposits on the outer thighs, or "saddlebags," says a study in the July issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

"Cryolipolysis, a noninvasive technique also known as CoolSculpting, is a good alternative to liposuction in women with moderate, well-localized saddlebags," said Barbara Hersant, MD, of Henri Mondor Hospital, Creteil, France. The researchers used cryolipolysis to treat saddlebags of the hips or outer thighs in 48 women.

Freezing safely eliminates saddlebag fat

CoolSculpting is an FDA-approved procedure that works by destroying cold-sensitive subcutaneous fat cells. Cells disappear gradually through a process that starts within a few days after the procedure and continues for several months.

Cryolipolysis has become a popular technique for treating problem fat areas such as belly fat and love handles. However, it has received less attention for saddlebags, which are more often treated by liposuction.

In the 48 treated cases, the researchers found cryolipolysis highly effective in reducing saddlebags. The womens' thigh circumference decreased by an average of about an inch 3 months after the procedure and by about 2 inches at 6 months. These measurements corresponded to gradual reductions in the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat layer in the hip area, as measured by ultrasound, by about 28% at 3 months and 38% at 6 months.

Cryolipolysis had generally mild and temporary side effects, with no serious complications. Average pain score after the procedure was less than two on a 10-point scale. Most patients were satisfied with the results of CoolSculpting for treatment of saddlebags and 90% said they would recommend the procedure to their friends. More than 80% underwent CoolSculpting on another body area.

Previous studies have established the safety and effectiveness of cryolipolysis in various fatty areas but there have been limited studies of its use in treating saddlebags. As a nonsurgical treatment, cryolipolysis avoids the potential complications of liposuction, as well as the need for anesthesia.

Dr. Hersant said further studies are needed confirm and optimize the effectiveness of cryolipolysis for reducing saddlebag fat deposits, as well as in other problem areas.

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