That's what tipped off two doctors affiliated with the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital about the effect of cold on body fat. They were both familiar with a phenomenon called "popsicle panniculitis": the name given to a reduction of cheek fat observed in people who regularly sucked popsicles. Doctors Anderson and Manstein went on to discover that fat cells were much more sensitive to cold than the cells of nerves, skin ,and muscle. In September 2010 the FDA approved the cryolipolysis device produced by ZELTIQ, a company that was quick to capitalize on the doctors' 2008 findings.
Within a few days I was having a consultation with Rebecca, an aesthetician at Chelsea Eye and Cosmetic Surgery in New York. I removed my shirt and then endured the odd experience of being pulled at and squeezed for a few minutes.
"You're a great candidate for this because you're in pretty good shape already," she said. "You ought to see some good results."
Rebecca then explained cryolipolysis -- the non-branded term for CoolSculpting. Something that looked like a vacuum cleaner hose would suck the flab away from my body and into a rectangular attachment that resembled a large, clear vacuum cleaner head. Then, with the head packed tight with my flesh, my unsightly blubber would be cooled to 4 degrees celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit) via thermal conduction. Turns out that when fatty tissue is cooled below body temperature but above freezing, it undergoes a "localized cell death." Those dead fat cells are then absorbed into and then passed out of the body. A jiggly area would be reduced by around 25% per treatment she said.
"Once fat cells are removed from a specific area, they're gone for good," said Rebecca. "That's the really great thing about this."
"Meaning that if I ate to excess after a procedure..." I said.
"Oh, you could still gain weight," she said. "Just not in those areas."
"I'd be a fat guy but with pockets of leanness."