Some of the greatest medical advancements in history have been discovered serendipitously. The world’s first true antibiotic was discovered by a scientist who accidentally left his culture plate uncovered while he went away on vacation, revolutionizing the way that physicians treat bacterial infections. The world’s first x-ray was performed when a physicist was experimenting with cathode ray tubes and recorded a glowing radiation that he discovered could shine through skin while casting shadows of bones.

Our innovative CoolSculpting device also has a unique discovery story. Keep reading to learn what it is!

Dr. Rox Anderson and Dr. Dieter Manstein were academic dermatologists who were conducting research out of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Upon reviewing past case reports there were two that especially stood out to them:

  • In 1970, the New England Journal of Medicine reported on an infant who experienced isolated fat loss following exposure to cold. She had developed panniculitis (inflammation of fat beneath the skin) after she left a cold popsicle resting along the inside of her cheek. 
  • In 1980, the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology reported cases of female equestrians who experienced something similar. After riding horses for long periods in cold weather, the athletes developed panniculitis on the outsides of their thighs, the areas most exposed to the harsh cold weather.

After considering these cases, the investigators developed a theory called cryolipolysis: that there could be selective, cold-induced injury to fat cells, while sparing surrounding tissues such as skin, muscles and nerves. And with that, CoolSculpting was born!

Coolsculpting technology uses controlled cooling to freeze the lipids within the adipose (fat) cells, causing them to crystalize. This happens at warmer temperatures than what our other cells crystalize at, sparing them from damage during the process. Think of putting a cup of olive oil in the fridge: it will become more solid and less like a liquid, while a cup of water will remain the same. During a Coolsculpting treatment, the skin, muscle and nerves at the treatment site are the “water,” while the fat is the “oil”. Skin, muscle and nerve remain untouched and unharmed, while the fat cells are crystallized for destruction.

You can learn more about CoolSculpting here, or by scheduling a consultation appointment with me using our contact form.

Erica Luke, B.Sc.N.