Icy injection freezes fat cells

January 29, 2020

Investigative cryolipolysis technique holds promise as a new strategy for selective, nonsurgical fat reduction.

Every year nearly half of Americans resolve to lose weight, providing a solid market demand for nonsurgical fat reduction technologies. And the past 10 years have secured a solid place for cryolipolysis with CoolSculpting, eventually winning over even the staunchest of skeptics. Ours is an industry characterized by constant innovation, so we’re not so much surprised as intrigued to hear that an icy cold liquid injection could be the next iteration in “cool” body shaping solutions.

CoolSculpting works by freezing fat cells with the use of external cooling applicators. Taking this method one step further, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) laboratory, where Coolsculpting was born, recently reported in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery the results of their investigative technique that injects an ice “slurry” directly into the unwanted fatty tissue.

The so-called slurry used in the study was a combination of saline, glycerol and 20% to 40% ice content and it works just like Coolsculpting to kill fat cells, which the body naturally eliminates. The difference is that the icy solution is injected directly into fat and could offer a solution for deeper visceral fat.

“The appeal of this technique is that it’s easy and convenient to do,” says lead author Lilit Garibyan, M.D., Ph.D., investigator in the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at MGH and the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School. “With Coolsculpting, which is a topical cooling technique, the patient has to sit there for almost an hour for enough heat to diffuse from the fat underneath the skin. With this new technique the doctor can do a simple injection that takes just less than a minute, the patient can go home, and then the fat gradually disappears.”

In the study, researchers performed a single treatment of local injections of the slurry or melted slurry (control) into subcutaneous pig fat. At eight weeks using ultrasound, photography and tissue responses, they found a 55% reduction in fat tissue thickness in the treatment group compared with control.

Researchers report no damage to skin or muscle at the injection site, and no visible systemic side effects or abnormalities.

“One of the cool things about this is how the injected slurry causes selective effects on fat,” said Rox Anderson, M.D., a co-author and leader of the Wellman Center. “Even if the slurry is injected into other tissue such as muscle, there is no significant injury.”

The authors conclude that this investigative technique holds promise as a new strategy for selective, nonsurgical fat reduction.

Disclosures:

Quotes provided by Massachusetts General Hospital.