DIY Coolsculptor Freezes Fat with Cryolipolysis

You’re probably wondering why [Eddy], pictured above, decided to clamp two CPU cooling blocks to his torso. We were a bit concerned ourselves. As it turns out, [Eddy] has managed to construct his own Cryolipolysis device, capable of delivering targeted sub-zero temperatures to different parts of the body using a technique more popularly known as “Coolsculpting.”

Cryolipolysis is a non-surgical method of controlled cooling that exposes fat cells to cold temperatures while also creating a vacuum to limit blood flow to the treated area. [Eddy's] challenge was to discover exactly how cold to make the treatment surfaces—a secret close-guarded by the original inventors. After digging through the original patent and deciding on a range between -3C and 0C, [Eddy] began cobbling together this medical masterpiece and designing a system capable of controlling it.

His finished build consists of a simple three-button interface and accompanying LCD screen, both wired to an Arduino, allowing the user to adjust temperatures and keep tabs on a session’s time. Unfortunately, results can take several months to appear, so [Eddy] has no idea whether his creation works (despite having suffered a brush with frostbite and some skin discolorations, yikes!) You can pick through a gigantic collection of photos and detailed information over at [Eddy's] project blog, then stick around for a video from an Australian news program that explains the Coolsculpting process. Need some additional encouragement to experiment on yourself? You can always strap some electrodes to your head and run current through them. You know, for science.

51 thoughts on “DIY Coolsculptor Freezes Fat with Cryolipolysis

  1. Sounds retarded. Cryolipolysis is a trademark and I’m skeptical how well it would work… and that’s ignoring the apparent risks you’re taking. I’d rather just exercise…

      1. Treadmills don’t burn many calories. A little resistance training is better. If you live in a northerly locale, wearing less winter clothing is better still. We consume 2000 calories a day. It takes a mile of walking or running to burn just over 100.

        Q: What do you think your body does with all that energy?
        A: Keeps itself warm and muscles firm enough for what it is used to doing.

      2. In the video they implicitly say it’s not for overweight people. It’s for targetting specific areas that are typically hard to get results from unless your working out frequently. It’s about convenience and a bit of laziness.

  2. lol that video,.. $1000 for at most a couple centimeters?,.. those before and after photos looked nearly the same
    body weight can fluctuate that much within a few days

  3. Creating a vacuum to limit blood flow sounds backwards — it would engorge the area with blood. You’d want pressure to reduce blood flow.

    Gdogg, you’d rather just exercise (me too!) but to most people, the promise of losing weight passively, probably while watching a jumbo TV in a doctor’s office, would sound too good to pass up.

    1. Blame also junk food. There’s absolutely no amount of exercise, not even running 24 hrs per day, that can neutralize the amount of fat given by some crazy meals.
      Exercising helps a lot but don’t expect it to be effective alone if you don’t control what you eat.

      1. Step1 – stop eating at any restaurants.
        Step2 – significantly limit sugar consumption, because you are eating far too much of it.
        Step3 – move more, even just walking.

        If you really want to do it right, no pre processed foods. If it’s in a box or cellophane bag, you do not eat it. Shop from only the meat,dairy, and veggies counter. and MAKE your own bread. (home made bread has 1/2 the calories and 2X the nutrition)

        1. Right, so where am I going to get the time and energy to do all of that? I get up at 7:15am, leave for work at 7:45am, get home at 8pm, and need to be in bed by 11pm to be functional the next day, 10pm if I want to feel at all decent. This leaves two days in the week to get anything done, if I’d like to do anything but work and sleep for 5/7 days…

      2. Not true, hard core athletes can burn 5 times a normal persons calorie intake in a typical training day. You can lose weight eating junk food if you exercise enough.

        1. Absolutely. For example, when I’m out mountaineering, I always lose weight, and that is while eating massive quantities of food. Sausage, cheese, heavy carbs. It all gets burned off.

  4. How do you “focus” cold to the subcutaneous fat without causing frostbite of the overlying skin? Are they claiming to do something other than conductive cooling which would leave the fat warmer than the skin?

    1. After browsing the science about this I found that they recommend a temperature between 0 and 3C (not -3 and 0 like Eddy said). By keeping above 0 you avoid the formation of water ice crystals and subsequent frostbite.

    2. I presume that skin has a slightly higher cold tolerance than fat. So like inverse sous vide cooking, you keep the temperature of the plates exactly where you want until cold permeates the clamped area entirely. Eliminating blood flow keeps it from being warmed in the center. The skin recovers from the cooling, the fat doesn’t.

      This is just a guess based on the project.

  5. So let me get this right… cold air kills fat cells? I would really love to see the empirical evidence of this happening. I mean if this is really true, then wouldn’t Africans be really short and fat while Nenets were tall and thin? I somehow doubt the claims made by this discovery, only because the originators simply hide behind patents.

    Anyone can get a patent and call it a trade secret. Hell, I could patent an oil that presumably cures HIV and state that it uses mysterious Tibetan healing herbs, while in reality people are smearing Crisco all over their bodies.

    Don’t mean to troll or discount Eddy’s work, but I just don’t see how this will actually produce the kind of results it claims to generate. Would love to get an update about it though sometime next year.

    1. The old saying that the best way to lose weight is to not gain it in the first place is quite true.

      Skinny people have few fat cells. Stuff said skinny person with pizza and chocolate, and eventually they’ll grow some fat cells, and put on weight.

      When they lose weight they keep the fat cells, they don’t go away. The next time you stuff them with pizza and chocolate they put on weight much faster as there’s a nice storage space already waiting.

      Hence people putting all the weight back on one the ‘diet’ finishes.

      The CoolScuplting does actually work (it’s been around for a while), by killing off the fat cells you not only lose weight, but are less likely to put it on.

      That said, it doesn’t do much. If you’re a large tub-o-lard before, it’ll be many many treatments before you’re a slightly less tub-o-lard.

      1. Tony, your assessment of how people gain and lose weight is factually incorrect and clashes with well established medical facts. Fat cells stop growing after puberty. You cannot “grow” fat cells afterward.

        The number of fat cells someone has does not indicate whether they’re fat or not, since fat cells can inflate and deflate like balloons. Gaining fat does not create more fat cells, nor does getting skinny destroy fat cells.

        People put on weight after dieting because dieting is unhealthy and a temporary change in habits. Also, people’s base metabolic rate (BMR) contributes a lot to whether they gain or lose fat, and diets pretty much have no lasting impact on BMR. Your “empty storage space” concept also clashes with medical facts.

        Please stop spreading blatant misinformation.

        1. Once fat cells hit a certain size they divide. If you lose weight they shrink, but you’ll have more fat cells than when you started with.

          They never go away.

          (Won’t happen with ‘normal’ people, just your average tud-o-lard HaD reader)
          (There’s still a bit on arguing over the whens & hows)

          1. Fat cells divide, but they do that in response to other fat cells dying. The number is adipocytes in adults stays constant.

            Please read a medical textbook or two before spouting off ignorant and hateful garbage. You’re either a shitty troll or a profoundly messed up person.

  6. Backers of this scheme should try wearing it on their head, maybe it would kill some of the “stupid” cells.

    The only thing cryolipolysis does is thin down the suckers wallet.

  7. Yea fewer calories in with more calories burned is still the plan for general weight loss, but no matter how many shoes are worn out that doesn’t target fat deposits that defy exercise and diet. Would be interesting to learn how it does the job without injuring the skin.

  8. I know because i hate phisical activities that sometime can be hard to workout but for 2-3 cm of fat (something you’ll lose in 1-2 week of non extensive exercise) they’re willing to pay for an operation/treatment?!?

    First of all like plastic surgery it’s not dangerproof and also if you exercise you’ll look better, if you simply use pills and other lazy ways to do so you’ll be skinny and nothing more.

    1. It reminds me of something I saw a while back to help while exercising though. It was basically a vacuum chamber with a cold grip inside of it. A small vacuum applied draws blood to the skin, the cold grip takes heat away, and then the colder blood circulates out and cools your body more quickly, allowing you to recover from a workout more quickly, or continue working out for longer.

      I’m going to have to find it again. In principle it’s easy, but finding a way to get the vacuum to stay steady is a bigger issue when it’s something you need skin contact to use. I was thinking something like a drysuit sleeve would be great for it!

      1. Which upon doing some quick googling, seems to have a much smaller (to the point where it can be regilgent) effect. Time sure flies!

      2. I read of such a system in the New Scientist a couple of years ago. It was used for bicycle racers. You put it on one handlebar, tho I suppose it would work for two. As you said, the partial vacuum increases bloodflow, and the coldness (not as cold as 0c!) cools the blood down. To help stop riders from overheating during races, and of course helping with dehydration too.

        I think they found it to be beneficial in practice, even counting for the extra weight. I think it was just a Peltier and pump, powered by a battery.

        1. I don’t know if it’s mentioned before, but this system is obviously used by inserting the hand into it, that’s where the blood gets cooled.

          Actually it’s a touch worrying, if you cool blood too much it gets thicker, and low pressure on aeroplanes apparently contributes to deep vein thrombosis. I suppose they know to look out for that. And you’re not after getting blood *too* cold.

  9. The fail is strong on this board today…
    Blood flow is a pressure based phenomenon (Yeah, I know, DUH. Except many people fail to understand all the implications of it, so it just needs to be said). Several years ago a researcher had a great idea for a new type of bandage that utilized negative pressure to enhance the healing of refractory wounds (diabetic wounds and some scary ulcers from infections, think flesh eating bacteria). The initial idea was to apply a flat negative pressure. It turned out that this reduced circulation. Undaunted, his next experiment involved an oscillating pressure and a much lower pressure change dressing (just a couple of mm/hg different from ambient). He got some results from the slight change, but some fantastic results from the oscillating pressure dressing. It was an incredible boon for some of these wounds (Serious wounds. Imagine removing a dressing in a big meaty leg, and looking down 10 centimeters and seeing bone. Yeah, that)

    It looks like you are pretty much stuck with the fat cells that you have, like your neurons. There is evidence of new synthesis during life, but it is so slow that it isn’t really changing the picture from saying they don’t grow (except in extreme circumstances). Fat people have big fat cells. Skinny people have small ones (You can make them bigger by cramming more stuff into them. This is one of the primary differences between fat and skinny people. I know, AGAIN, duh). The smaller they are the easier it is to get material out of them (slight simplification). What this means is that the smaller they are, the easier it is to make them smaller. The larger they are, the harder it is. Just this fact makes it harder for fat people to shed weight.

    Now, pile on (yeah, pun intended) all the other crap that obese people have to deal with. Less energy, pain in limbs from supporting the excess weight, lack of muscle mass, reduction in aerobic/anaerobic capability, slowed healing (Yeah, this is important), etc… All of these things exact a toll.

    Last I checked, this board was about hacking. Sure, many of these things are going to void your warranty, which is a really dangerous thing when we talk about the human body, but weight loss needs a couple of good hacks. There are many different ways of “tricking” the body to “change” the operating system. Unfortunately there’s also many quacks and snake oil salesmen out there.

    Cryolipolysis appears to work. Just like liposuction, and a couple of other alternative fat eliminating techniques. I don’t think they’re a good idea (definitely my opinion, YMMV). Fat is there for a reason. I think we need the cells for other functions within the body. However, it’s a medically accepted treatment, and perhaps these hacks have a place here (the name of the site is HackADay, isn’t it?)

  10. I am 6’5″ and have been exercising for many years. Listen I cannot get rid of my belly fat to save my life. I dropped down to 186 lbs! I was skinny to the point of being ugly. It took a lot of work and devotion to get there but everything was skinny except my belly! So all you people that are calling this the lazy persons way or that we just need to get out there and excercise need to consider my situation. The skinny person with five pounds of fat that ain’t going anywhere! It sucks!

  11. As a physician who does coolsculpting procedures all the time i know a bit about how it works and i’m afraid you are just going to hurt yourself in this process. The temperature you are aiming for is incorrect and will cause you big problems imo. The key factor you need to know is that fat will “freeze” before H2O does. Keep this in mind while designing your experiement. :) Good luck!

    1. How much does a zeltiq machine cost you? I’m disappointed in my machine and am looking for a replacement, hoping that American manufacturing standards will let me buy a machine that works consistently. You have any used machines for sale? :)

    2. Thanks Dr C. Care to give a little more information? Such as the actual temperature we should aim for? Until you do I will stick to the temperatures I use. It works (see comments section in my FrankenSculptor blog post) and no damage to the skin.

      1. It’s -5 to -8 degrees celsius for 10 minutes, but according to machine manufacturers can be -10 degrees celsius for an hour using a “antifreeze membrane” which is basically a baby wipe coated in a cosmetic oil/jelly type solution. Not sure the exact composition but I’ve bought the membranes as well as a machine. The machine I bought has one cryo handle, one ultrasound cavitation handle for vibrating the frozen fat to help ensure it’s disrupted, and one multi-polar RF handle to use after fat loss to help shrink the skin. I will try to update the “skin damage” aspect as soon as my machine gets in and I’ve used it for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, then an hour. I also bought a no-contact thermometer to measure the exact temperature the plates reach regardless of “power” settings on the machine.

        There’s specifics in the National Institute of Health government run website about the specifics used in the study on which the machine was based. In fact there’s specifics about skin shrinkage, cryolipolysis, cavitation, and a great many other technology studies on that nih site.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18951424

        [spoiler]
        BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Excess fat poses a host of local and systemic problems. Various energy sources, for example, laser, ultrasound, and radiofrequency electric current have been studied as potential non-invasive treatments aimed at local destruction of subcutaneous fat. Cryosurgery at very low temperatures is routinely used for non-specific tissue destruction, however the potential for tissue-specific cold injury has not been investigated. This study describes non-invasive cold-induced selective destruction of subcutaneous fat.
        MATERIALS AND METHODS:
        Black Yucatan pigs under general anesthesia were exposed within test sites to preset temperatures of 20, -1, -3, -5, and -7 degrees C for 10 minutes. Gross and histological assessments were performed immediately, 1 day, 2, 7, 14 and 28 days post-cold exposure for four pigs, and up to 3.5 months for one pig. Additionally, six pigs were exposed between -5 degrees C and -8 degrees C for 10 minutes, at sites covering approximately 15% body surface area, followed by serum lipid level determinations at various time points up to 3 months.
        RESULTS:
        A lobular panniculitis was induced by cooling, followed for some test sites by grossly obvious loss of several mm of subcutaneous fat occurring gradually during the 3.5 months study period. Loss of adipocytes, the appearance of lipid-laden mononuclear inflammatory cells, and local thickening of fibrous septae were noted. Typically there was no clinical or histological evidence of injury to skin, and no scarring. Serum lipids were not significantly increased.
        CONCLUSIONS:
        Prolonged, controlled local skin cooling can induce selective damage and subsequent loss of subcutaneous fat, without damaging the overlying skin. Selective cryolysis warrants further study as a local treatment for removal of adipose tissue.
        [/spoiler]

        1. It looks like the temperature should differ based on the size of the cooling plate area and the tissue to be treated. Using the size of the area, you come up with the “cooling intensity factor” to get the tissues to the desired temperature range within whatever set time you’re using and keep them there for 10 minutes. Exposure to -8 degrees celsius for 10 minutes appears to be harmless to the skin, but an exact calculation and use of the gel / antifreeze cloth would prevent any skin damage.

          Article: Three-dimensional volumetric quantification of fat loss following cryolipolysis.

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24535759

          Exerpt from extended text when following to the PDF article sources:
          Test sites were exposed to cooling based on the rate of
          energy extraction, that is milliwatts per centimeter
          squared (mW/cm2). A numerical value, referred to as the
          ‘‘Cooling Intensity Factor’’ (CIF), was used to express the
          rate of heat extraction and, therefore, cooling of the skin.
          Once the desired area of treatment is identified, a
          coupling gel is applied to the skin surface before placement
          of the applicator to ensure consistent thermal contact. The
          applicator is positioned on the treatment area with the
          use of a moderate vacuum. Once affixed on the treatment
          area, no further operator intervention is required for the
          duration of the treatment cycle. Treatment with the cold
          exposure, which includes a predetermined energy extraction
          rate (CIF, as described earlier) and cycle duration of up
          to 60 minutes, is initiated. Just prior to the end of the
          treatment cycle, an electronic pager summons the clinician
          to be present at the end of treatment,when the system
          automatically terminates the cold exposure and the
          applicator is removed from the patient by the operator’s
          release of the vacuum.

  12. I bought a cryolipolysis machine from Alibaba, but there’s quality control issues. Of course it cost $2k but came with other attachments. One of the quality control issues is that the vacuum sucks up the liquid on the antifreeze cloth and no longer works as a real vacuum should. The other issue is that the “cooling plates” get cold for a bit but then heat up due to the water cooling not being effective. If I could find someone in the Houston area with an electronics background to help me fix it, it would be able to do what doctors charge thousands to do.

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