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Fat Freezing vs Fat Melting (Which is Right for You?)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Last updated: March 7, 2023

Fat freezing and fat melting treatments are outpatient procedures approved by the FDA to reduce fat deposits in localized problem areas.

Cosmetic surgeons and clinicians use these methods to reduce fat on the abdomen, upper arms, thighs, chin, and other places.

Many of our clients at Total Shape have inquired about fat freezing vs. fat melting methods, so we’ve spent the last several months researching the subject and talking to experts. We’ve distilled our findings into this concise resource.

If you have been considering a highly effective, non-surgical fat reduction procedure, find out which is the best fit for you.

Fat Freezing vs. Fat Melting: Key Differences

A woman exercising outdoors, a health professional marking for surgery

These two methods for non-invasive fat reduction attack fat cells from opposite directions.

Both fat melting and fat freezing reduce the fat layer thickness by killing fat cells, so they’re gone for good.

 “Treatments that cause fat cell death are permanent, and the cells do not reproduce.”

- Julie Russak, MD, a dermatologist in New York City.

However, the different methods may preclude some people from one or the other based on medical conditions.

Features Head To Head

A woman in the process of criolypolysis

Let's take a quick look at each treatment.

How Freezing Fat Works:

A licensed professional, usually a cosmetic surgeon, will freeze fat cells using a handheld applicator.

The fatty tissue is drawn into the applicator by suction, much like a vacuum.

The patient may feel the cold combined with a tingling or stinging during the treatment.

These sensations usually fade after the first few minutes.

The treatment takes approximately an hour. Immediately following, the area is massaged for a few minutes to help break down the fat cells.

How Fat Melting Works:

Fat burning is a bit different. Unwanted fat cells in the treatment area rupture when a laser-like penetrating light is applied, destroying them.

The body's natural defenses remove the destroyed cells. Sessions typically last about half an hour.

The following pros and cons may help you realize which one might be for you.

Pros & Cons of Fat Freezing

  • Average reduction of fat cells in treated areas: 15%-30%
  • Side effects are minimal, generally restricted to minor swelling, bruising, or stinging sensations.
  • Does not require anesthesia or sedation.
  • More than one area can be treated in the same visit.
  • Expensive: typically several thousand dollars per visit.
  • Not recommended for people with Raynaud's syndrome or other conditions involving cold sensitivity
  • Those with poor skin tone may not be suitable.

Pros & Cons of Fat Melting

  • Quick and relatively painless.
  • Resume daily activities immediately after the session.
  • Clinical studies reported a measurable reduction of stubborn fat after several treatments.
  • Though typically less costly than fat freezing treatments, multiple sessions may be required.
  • Although rare, some have reported skin damage due to laser contact with the skin.
  • Not recommended for those with loose skin or for deep abdominal fat.

Making Your Choice: Key Points To Remember

A woman in the middle of surgery for fat freezing cells

Here are a few points to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to move forward.

You will likely have to pay out-of-pocket for the treatment since most health insurance policies do not cover elective cosmetic surgery.

Of course, check with your agent.

Also, treatments like this should not be a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. You'll likely only achieve overall weight loss through diet,  fat burning exercises for beginners, and other lifestyle changes.

How Effective Are These Treatments?

Available studies show benefits in fat loss in treated areas, attaining full benefit 1 to 4 months following the procedure.

Clinical studies for fat freezing showed a 25% reduction in fat at the site in 86% of subjects [1].

One to 3-inch reductions at the waistline were reported for fat-burning treatments [2].

In each case, the fat cells are gone for good.

“Because non-invasive fat removal kills some fat cells, the targeted cells are gone forever.”

-American Academy of Dermatology Association [3]

Which Treatment Is Right For You?

These treatments are for those with good overall health. They may not be advised if you have loose skin or poor skin tone.

You’ll also likely want to avoid fat freezing if you have any medical condition in which cold temperatures negatively affect you.

Please speak with providers of each service to get all the details.


How Long Is The Recovery Time?

There is really no recovery time for fat burning or fat freezing techniques. You may experience temporary discomfort such as red, irritated skin, bruising, or swelling in the treated area, but you can continue regular activities.

How Long Do These Treatments Last?

The results of fat burning and fat freezing methods are permanent since the dead fat cells do not return. Of course, if a person continues to gain weight overall, results may appear to diminish.

How Much Do These Treatments Cost?

Freezing fat typically runs $2000-$4000 per treatment, with fat melting coming in at an average of $1200-$1800 per session. Fat melting work typically requires more than one session, however.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Fat Reduction Techniques?

Both fat freezing and fat burning come more under the heading of body contouring than weight loss. Their purpose is to quickly reduce excess fat in certain areas of the body. One of these may be your answer if you have stubborn fat in certain areas that hasn't responded to other methods.

Our Assessment of Fat Melting vs Fat Freezing

Remember, these treatments are not designed to lower overall body fat, but to provide a fast way to improve critical areas.

Always combine any treatment or program with a healthy lifestyle, including natural foods, exercise, and a positive outlook.

Another thing that works very well in conjunction with these things, especially with aerobic exercise like running, is a high-quality fat burner.

These contain natural ingredients designed to get you to your weight-loss goals safer and faster.

To find the ideal one for your particular needs, make sure to check out our guide on the best fat-burning supplements that we thoroughly tested ourselves to determine their safety and efficacy.


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