One too many times do we meet a person who has been dieting and exercising regularly, but just cannot get rid of a few spots of stubborn excess fat. The only solution used to be liposuction, that is until the last few years when the advent of fat busting treatments on the medical aesthetics market changed this. They became a new trend in removing excess fat, and it is easy to see why – non-invasive, low-risk, minimal to no downtime.

Over the last decade, many different technologies for body contouring by means of permanent fat reduction appeared in the market. Two of the best body contouring technologies are radiofrequency and cryolipolysis (cold induced fat cell death). 

This leads to a common conundrum among people considering taking up a treatment for body contouring – which is better? 

FIRST, HOW DO THEY WORK

The two types of treatment are actually very similar, but polar opposites at the same time. They both work by killing off fat cells, which our body subsequently eliminates via the lymphatic system and liver. However, the great difference that sets them apart, is the temperature: radiofrequency destroys fat cells by heating them up, while cryolipolysis works by freezing them.  

The reason both treatments can be used selectively on fat cells is because fat cells do not contain much water, rendering them sensitive to these treatments. 

SO, WHICH IS BETTER? 

This is a tough call to make. Each treatment has its own advantages and might be more suitable depending the results you are after. 

Cryolipolysis treats pockets of fat well, but it can be hard to reduce fat uniformly. Radiofrequency on the other hand can treat over a large area, and is useful when treating someone with uniform fat. Radiofrequency also triggers the body’s natural healing responses which stimulates collagen production, so it is a great treatment when there is also loose skin. 

WHICH IS FASTEST?

With radiofrequency, optimal results are typically seen only after 4-8 sessions, whilst for cryolipolysis, it takes about 2-3 treatments per area. Maximum results are typically 2-3 months after the sessions. 

BEST FOR PAIN AND RISKS?

Both treatments are non-invasive, and there is no downtime. Typical effects after treatment are mild redness and swelling. For both cryolipolysis and radiofrequency, there is the odd case of skin burns. This is typically due to usage of machines that aren’t safe to use, or if the practitioner is not up to standard. To avoid this, make sure you do your homework. 

IN SUMMARY


Fat Freeze (Cryolipolysis)Radio Frequency
ProsGood for treating stubborn fat
pockets
Results in 1-3 sessions an area
Can treat deeper fat
15-25% fat reduction in treated
area
Good for treating uniform
fat
Comfortable
Short sessions (20-30 mins)
Skin tightening
ConsEach treatment takes an hour
Discomfort and soreness may set in
after a day or two
Results may need numerous
sessions
Some machines may feel
very hot

CAN I COMBINE TREATMENTS

Of course you can! Patients who combine treatments see better results. This is because fat freeze is useful in treating fat pockets, which are most commonly deep, whilst radiofrequency is better at targeting uniform fat that is often superficial in nature. Radiofrequency also treats the skin and tightens your skin after the loss of fat volume. Do be aware however that heating and freezing treatments should NOT be done on the same day. 

BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR FINAL DECISION

Do… check the brand of device your practitioner is using. Not all cryo or radiofrequency machines are created equal. There are many copy-cat cryolipolysis machines to be wary of as not all are FDA approved. It is already difficult to pick where to go for the treatment, and picking the pedigree of the device can even be more so. One thing NOT to do is to be led by the price 

Don’t… think of body contouring procedures as weight loss treatments. The treatments are more of a case of shifting a stubborn bit of fat that exercise and diet just won’t budge, especially the lower tummy, love handles, flanks and thighs. In most clinical studies done for these treatments, patients saw loss in inches rather than loss in weight. If you are interested in dropping your Kgs rather than just inches, there are appetite suppressant treatments such as Saxenda, or the good old fashioned diet and exercise.  


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