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Side Effects of Zeltiq

Updated on March 29, 2011
A promotion for Zeltiq from a dermatologist's newsletter.
A promotion for Zeltiq from a dermatologist's newsletter.

What Is Zeltiq Fat Freezing Procedure?

Zeltiq is the name given by a California company for a revolutionary, non-invasive device that gets rid of unwanted fat bulges and contours the body. Zeltiq is also known as "cool sculpting," and the procedure basically involves freezing small areas of fat and thus killing the fat cells. The device sucks an area of body fat between two metal plates and freezes that area. Over a period of about two months, the body digests those dead fat cells and expels them. The final body contouring results are fully evident only after several months, once the body has broken down and gotten rid of the dead fat cells. At that point, patients on average see a 20% reduction of fat in the treated area. The Food and Drug Administration approved Zeltiq as a non-surgical fat removing treatment in September 2010.

Zeltiq is only recommended for people who already are healthy and slim and who are trying to target small, stubborn pockets of fat like love handles, a tummy pooch, man boobs or unwanted back fat that bulges around a bra strap. Zeltiq should not be performed on obese people.

Zeltiq must be performed in a doctor's office. Plastic surgeons and dermatologists are the medical professionals most likely to offer the Zeltiq procedure. It is an elective process, so is not covered by insurance. It can cost between $650 and $900 to treat a small area, and areas like love handles or man boobs require at least two treatments — one on each side of the body, or on each handle. There is also a larger applicator that can treat a bigger area about twice the size of the other applicator; it costs between $1,200 and $1,500 for a one-hour application.

Zeltiq is an outpatient procedure that takes one hour per treatment area. It requires no anesthesia, and doctors say that you can immediately resume your normal activities, or return straight to work.

A dermatologist and Zeltiq Cool Sculpting expert on the procedure

Zeltiq in Dallas

Side Effects of Zeltiq

Doctors and the company that makes the Zeltiq machine say that every patient who has undergone the procedure has seen results, though actual patient testimonials suggest that some patients have not seen as significant results as they had hoped.

The makers of Zeltiq machines also say that there are no lasting side effects to undergoing a Zeltiq procedure, but that patients can expect to feel a sharp cold and numbness when the machine is first applied to the skin. This discomfort usually goes away after 10 minutes or so. Patients may also find the initial suction sensation of their skin into the device to be uncomfortable. Patients might again feel discomfort once the device is removed from the skin and blood and oxygen return to the treated, frozen area. This can sting, though some patients report a sharp pain. Doctors say that mild bruising is common in some patients.

Though nobody has yet reported serious of long-term side effects of Zeltiq, as the procedure becomes more common, doctors are finding that more patients than initially thought were experiencing severe discomfort after the procedure. Some of those reporting sharp pains continued to experience that pain for a period of weeks or even months. The pain did not respond well to Advil or ibuprofin, many patients said. It is now believe that 1 patient in every 3,000 people who undergo Zeltiq have this extremely painful reaction. The company takes all of these reports seriously and wants to understand why they happen. According to reports I have read, every case of severe pain as a result of Zeltiq that has been reported has gone away with time. It may take a few months, but even severe side effects to the Zeltiq procedure will improve.

For most patients, there are only mild side effects from Zeltiq, and most go away after a few hours or maybe a few days. Side effects last longer, and are more severe, on rare occasions. Ask a doctor for specifics about what you can expect from the Zeltiq procedure. Because it is non-surgical, the recovery from Zeltiq is much faster and more pleasant than the recovery from liposuction.


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