How Does Fat Freezing Work?

Fat freezing treatments are the most popular non-surgical fat removal treatments available on the market. It is well known medically that a fat cell cannot survive and function if it is subjected to temperatures of -1 degrees.   If we can subject the targeted area to minus 1degree for at least 30 minutes then it is guaranteed to kill the fat cells within the site.

This blog post will explain how it is possible to freeze the area safely, help you to understand what happens to the fat cells and what results you can expect to see in the targeted problem area. Before we do that, it is better that you understand a bit more about fat cells.

Fat cells and how they function

Our bodies are made up of millions of fat cells that are vital to our health. There are two types of fat; the visceral fat that lies around organs and can be dangerous to our health, and subcutaneous fat that lies beneath our skin. Too much of the subcutaneous fat can cause us to have bulges of fat and this can create a problem aesthetically for many people.

Fat cells store fat to be used as energy, help to protect and insulate our bodies, help to absorb nutrients and are vital to our health. If we eat more energy than we consume the body stores the excess as fat; it does that by transporting the fat to cells with space.

Sometimes in areas where the fat cells are full, the fat has to find another area of the body with enough space. When people are putting weight on, what typically is happening is that the fat cells space is so full that the body begins to produce more fat cells and the cycle continues.

Fat freezing destroys fat cells and so actually reduces the volumes of fat cells in a particular area, and as well as reducing the fat content, it does have a long lasting effect by creating fewer fat cells in the problem area.

How is fat freezing able to destroy fat safely?

A protective barrier is applied to the skin to protect the skin from the freezing elements. This is a thick fibre towelling soaked in glycerine to allow it to adhere and cover the skin of the area treated. A vacuum is then applied over the barrier to gradually cool the site and eventually a temperature of -.06 is achieved and remains there for 30-45 minutes. There are currents that flow through the freezing process and this ensures that there is constant circulation.   Once the treatment is completed, the applicator is removed and the skin feels cold to touch but quickly gets back to the normal skin temperature.

Some of the original machines without the current flow of energy, although still safe made the area almost frozen for a few moments and massage was required to stimulate the blood flow and regulate the skin temperature.

The most important aspect here is that the skin is always protected and your therapist should always take care to ensure that.

So how does fat freezing treatment actually get rid of the fat?

Earlier we mentioned that the fat cells are destroyed by freezing. The freezing actually stops the fat cells from functioning. (20-40%) of fat cells in the area are targeted so you will still have a sufficient level of fat cells. The targeted fat cells with their fat content are now dying tissue, just like cells die in your body every second of the day.

The body is programmed to remove dead cells from your body by cells called macrophages which are large white blood cells whose sole function is to eat up dead cells. If you could imagine Pacman gobbling up all the dots, that’s how macrophages work!

Once these macrophages are full, they have served their function and are excreted by the body along with their contents.

This whole process takes up to 16 weeks and that is why the full result is expected at 16 weeks.

What is the final result in the treated area?

It is proven to reduce 20-40% of the fat cells in the area. You will have a noticeable reduction in the pocket of fat.

This is where your nutrition and activity levels will play a part. Eating well and doing targeted exercises in the area won’t shift any more fat in the treated site, but will help to sculpt and define the area overall.

Imagine the area treated was the abdomen and you have that pocket of fat below the belly button:

  • The fat freezing treatment will reduce the fat content by 20-40%.
  • A good diet will minimise fat being stored in nearby areas thus helping to enhance the result.
  • Lower abdomen and core work in the gym will help shape and tone the muscle beneath the area treated, thus improving the sculpted appearance.

Without a healthy diet and exercise, yes, the fat cells will still be reduced and if you are slim with only this pocket of fat, you will likely experience a very noticeable level of change. However if you have fat in other areas a lesser change will be evident.

Some people may have a second fat freeze after six months in the same area to target a further 20-40% of the fat cells.

Whether you choose to do exercise or not, fat freezing will destroy the targeted fat cells and is a highly effective non-surgical method of fat removal.


Fat freezing is a safe and effective method of reducing pockets of fat from the body which helps to sculpt the body in the area being treated. The body gets rid of the dead fat cells through the normal process of waste removal which is constantly ongoing and can take up to 8-16 weeks for the results to be noticed. You do not have to exercise to aid the fat removal although good nutrition and targeted exercise activity will maximise the visible sculpting effect.