Ultrasound Cavitation vs Fat Freezing: Which One Is Better?

15 December 2022
Dr. Raoul Novelli
Reviewed by Dr. Raoul Novelli
Written by Anastasia Lesnikova

    Several years ago, you may not have heard of the terms ‘fat freezing’ or ‘ultrasound cavitation’. Today, they have become two of the most popular treatments for those looking to achieve the figure of their dreams. After all, traditional surgical fat reduction procedures can be invasive and disrupt a patient’s life with hospitalisation and long recovery periods. Not to mention, they can leave permanent unwanted scars, so patients are often hesitant about undergoing them.

    But thankfully, ultrasound cavitation and fat freezing are alternatives to these methods that pose lower risks and disruption. They can be used individually or in combination with healthy eating and exercise for even better results. If you are looking for fat reduction treatment without surgery and the high risks it poses, VIP Italia’s fat reduction devices could help.

    What Is Ultrasound Cavitation?

    Technically known as ultrasound cavitation or ultrasonic cavitation, this procedure is considered the main alternative to liposuction. Ultrasound cavitation breaks up fat deposits with low-frequency ultrasound waves. It removes fat without requiring surgery, hospitalisation, anesthesia, or a recovery period that interrupts the patient’s daily life. These factors make it an attractive fat-reduction treatment.

    How does Ultrasound Cavitation work?

    Ultrasound cavitation may sound like a complex procedure, but it is actually quite simple. Lipoline cavitation treatments use 1 MHZ ultrasound waves that travel through the skin to the layer of fat underneath. These waves create vibrations and pressure that break the fat cells into liquid glycerol and fatty acids. Then the body reuses glycerol and excretes the fatty acids. The ultrasonic wave generates a small amount of heat that improves circulation, speeding up waste disposal.

    Every person has different weight loss goals - whether that be to reduce your overall body fat or simply tone problem areas. That is why cavitation treatment schedules are determined by your individual needs and can fit around your life. Typically, plans involve two non-surgical sessions a week across a one to two-month period. Initial results will start to become evident just days after completing the first session. For optimum results, approximately 10 sessions are needed; however, this will vary per patient.

    Targeted Areas for Ultrasound Cavitation

    As a non-surgical alternative to liposuction, ultrasound cavitation can be used to target and contour specific areas of the body. Generally, it is employed to reduce fat around the stomach, thighs, upper arms, back, buttocks, and love handles. 

    ultrasound-cavitation-vs-fat-freezing
    Before and After 5 Lipoline Ultrasound Cavitation Treatments, Done within 25 Days

    Ultrasound Cavitation: Side Effects

    Safety is a key consideration when undergoing any treatment. Firstly, patients generally do not report any pain throughout the procedure, making it a very comfortable fat-reduction treatment. You may feel slight amounts of heat generated by the ultrasonic waves and some skin reddening, but these effects are temporary and not usually painful. Whatsmore, there is no recovery period afterward.

    Furthermore, ultrasound cavitation is approved by the FDA and has very few hazards. As cavitation is non-surgical, patients can go about their daily lives after every session. Bear in mind that you may experience mild side effects of red skin, bruising or skin irritation.

    What Is Fat Freezing?

    Fat freezing, or Cryolipolysis, is another modern fat reduction treatment that has become a popular alternative to surgery. It is a non-invasive procedure that reduces fat in localised regions. Using CoolSculpting technology, the procedure can tackle tough pockets of fat by freezing and killing the fat cells. 

    Similarly to cavitation, fat freezing avoids surgery, anesthesia, and a lengthy recovery period, meaning patients can generally continue their daily activities uninterrupted, although rest afterward is recommended.

    How Does Fat Freezing work?‍

    Fat freezing works exactly how it sounds, and is a very simple procedure. CoolSculpting paddles are placed on a fat pocket and they apply cold temperatures safely and carefully to the skin. Depending on the applied technology, the fat layer is gradually cooled to the target temperature of between 5 to -6 degrees Celsius. Cold temperatures penetrate around 2 cm below the skin’s surface and freeze the fat cells beneath it, killing them. The remnants of these cells are then excreted via the lymphatic system.

    The treatment is usually completed in 1-4 sessions, although the length of the treatment program depends on the client. It takes between 1-3 months to see the full effects (sometimes more).

    Targeted Areas for Fat Freezing

    Practitioners will typically employ fat-freezing treatment to remove fat in stubborn areas that are typically unaffected by weight loss through dieting and exercise. It targets specific problem areas and focuses on individual fat pockets, often around the tummy, love handles, inner thighs, back, upper arm and neck. Around 20-25% of the fat cells are killed in each treated pocket.

    Fat Freezing: Side Effects

    Fat Freezing is a non-invasive alternative to liposuction and avoids the dangers of anesthetic and surgery. It is approved by the FDA and carries far fewer risks than traditional fat reduction methods.

    However, while it is mostly safe, it is important to be aware of some potential side effects. Mild side effects include bruising, numbness, and pigmentation in the treated area, though there is a more serious side effect, called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, that occurs in less than one percent of cases.

    Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia is a rare complication of fat freezing that gets its name from the unexpected, paradoxical overgrowth (hyperplasia) of fatty (adipose) tissue. Around 8 to 24 weeks after the procedure, the treated area can harden and become visibly enlarged. This affected tissue can be removed with liposuction or an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck).

    How Do Fat Freezing and Cavitation Differ?

    The two procedures are similar in the sense they are both non-surgical procedures that remove and reduce fat cells; however, their methods are very different.

    Fat-freezing treatments look to ‘freeze’ away fat cells, destroying them in a safe and controlled manner. Fat cells require optimum conditions to survive just as a person requires optimum conditions. By using an FDA-approved device, it is possible to target fat cells, lowering their temperature and causing the cells to die. The body’s natural defense system is then triggered into action, working to remove the dead cells through the body’s lymphatic system. 

    Similarly, cavitation takes the same approach and aims to alter the fat cell’s optimum living conditions. The main difference here is that this procedure heats fat cells with FDA-approved high-frequency sound waves, causing them to liquefy. Again, the body’s lymphatic system removes the melted fat cells, transporting them to the liver for processing before they are removed from the body naturally as waste.

    But what else sets these treatments apart?

    Which treatment requires fewer sessions to see results?

    While fat-freezing treatments take fewer treatments to display optimum results, approximately four sessions. Cavitation shows instant results after only one session. 

    Fat-freezing relies on the intense cold temperatures slowly destroying the fat cells. The initial injury to the cells triggers an inflammatory response, further them breaking down and resulting in the cells dying. Consequently, taking between 1 to 3 months to reach this favourable result. 

    Cavitation, however, allows you to see a difference straight away. Ultrasonic waves intensely heat fat cells causing them to liquefy during the treatment. In addition, the cavitation device helps to break down tissue in the treatment areas, further ‘chiselling’ and slimming the overall appearance.

    It is worth remembering that the results of both procedures are long-lasting, especially when combined with a healthy lifestyle.

    Which treatment option is the most comfortable?

    When the two treatments are compared, it is often considered that ultrasound cavitation is more comfortable than fat freezing. The former is frequently described as pain-free, and even a relaxing experience. This sensation comes from the heating nature of the procedure, heating the fat cells to in essence, ‘melt’ them away. There is no anesthetic required and, more importantly, no incisions. 

    On the other hand, fat freezing can be more uncomfortable. Often many patients comment on the intense coldness of the device and the tingling and stinging feeling that this causes. Once the area is cold enough to become numb, the sensations subside. After the procedure, patients have been known to experience some bruising, tenderness and redness. All of these are temporary, however. 

    Again, it is important to reiterate that both treatments are FDA-approved. 

    Do these treatments vary in price?

    When it comes to cost, there is a general trend that ultrasound cavitation treatments are between 30-50% cheaper than fat freezing. However, this may vary from clinic to clinic. When selecting where to go for your treatment option, we strongly recommend looking for a centre that is registered with the CQC.

    Do these procedures require long recovery periods and downtime?

    If you opt for a fat-freezing treatment, it is recommended that the patient takes it easy after the procedure. As some clients report feeling sore from the device, it is best for your long-term recovery to rest up. There is the rare risk of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia that has been discussed earlier, so it is worth giving yourself two to five months to fully recover. However, you should not experience any long-term discomfort during this time. Often, side effects linger for a few weeks after your treatment session.

    In comparison, a session of ultrasound cavitation could be completed on your lunch break. This painless procedure allows you to carry on your daily routine without any cause for concern. 

    A Comparison of Ultrasound Cavitation and Fat Freezing:

    ultrasound-cavitation-vs-fat-freezing

    Key Takeaways

    Ultrasonic cavitation and fat-freezing treatments are forms of noninvasive body contouring and have the same goal in mind: reducing fat cells and creating a slimmer silhouette. 

    Neither treatment is a weight loss treatment, and liposuction will provide the fastest results. However, when weighing up your options between liposuction and these alternatives, consider that it is invasive, more expensive, and will almost certainly have a longer recovery time. 

    Ultrasonic cavitation gets rid of fat cells by using ultrasound frequencies, whilst fat freezing works by freezing fat cells, which are then slowly expelled from your body in a similar way to cavitation. The procedures are short and have no lengthy recovery period, making them great options.

    Fat freezing treatment is generally more expensive than cavitation and the results can take up to three months to show. Plus, the effects of fat-freezing treatment only apply to the targeted areas and it also does not tighten the skin. Ultrasonic fat cavitation, on the other hand, can also be used for skin tightening, meaning that a combination of the two methods may be beneficial for some patients. 

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    FAQ

    Is fat freezing better than ultrasound cavitation?

    Fat freezing and cavitation are beneficial in their own ways, and your choice depends on your needs. Cavitation results appear quickly whereas fat-freezing results may take longer and generally are only noticed about a month after the starting treatment, with final visible results after about 1 to 3 months (sometimes more).

    Does ultrasonic cavitation permanently remove fat cells?

    Yes, ultrasonic cavitation breaks up and destroys fat cells permanently.

    Can you combine fat freezing and ultrasound cavitation treatments?

    Yes, you can combine fat freezing and cavitation to treat broader issues. It is a great option to tighten loose skin as well as reduce fat.

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