Can You Flush The Fat?
Lose the Muffin Top! Can you pinch more than an inch?
The weight loss industry drops all sorts of headline grabbing quick fixes: Booty Tea promising to build your butt while blocking carbs, "squeems" aka body wraps, ab stimulators from famous football players, “Shape-Up” Sketchers, home delivery food prep, “exciting medical breakthroughs,” overpriced green coffee beans, and As-Seen-On-TV stickers. Taking a shortcut to get skinny is a direct route to getting scammed.
Or is it?
When I heard about a cosmetic procedure that freezes your fat in a single afternoon, I thought it was just another brazen entry into a crowded market of snake oils and salacious promises. Even the name sets off quackery alarm bells: LOKKIMA.
What is a Lokkima and what is this fat freezing malarkey?
Lokkima, is an Estonian word ( how startup) for wave or curl, and the company is trying to be the new wave of fat loss providers.
And the procedure, well the procedure is like something Henry The Hoover may image for a companion.
When you go in, aesthetic practitioners suck up your “stubborn fatty areas” in between two cooling plates. A gel membrane is placed over this stubborn fatty area to prevent skin damage as the −4°C cooling plates lower the temperature of fat cells gradually. Fat cells freeze more quickly than skin cells, so the thermoelectric cooling is regulated to be cold enough to kill fat, but not cold enough to give people frostbite. After an hour session, the cold flab is often massaged, and that’s it.
After the cooling process kills the fat cells, they’re attacked by white blood cells, which convert them to triglycerides that are then metabolized by the liver and eliminated.
No skin is cut, no blood is shed, you can go back to work the same day, and you’re closer to fulfilling an arbitrary standard of beauty in as much time as it takes to get your teeth cleaned. Once killed, fat cells get “naturally eliminated from the body,” which is a flowery way of saying you poop the fat out.
Number 1 it's a quick fix! No diet, no exercise! Number 2 Poop!
I know. It sounds like science fiction for the desperate, like something Dr. Oz would enthusiastically endorse. In fact, Dr. Oz is a fan of Fat Freezing, but it's science fact or it the inventors of this science would not have been bought by our Irish neighbors, for $2.48 billion.
Zeltiq Aesthetics agreed to sell itself and its fat freezing technology to reduce fat in a $2.48 billion deal to Botox-maker Allergan.
The Process is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and performed at cosmetic procedure clinics all over the globe, and it’s based on legitimately promising research.
Just like every super hero story, the origin story of fat freezing is as weird as how it works. The idea started with Dr. Rox Anderson and Dr. Dieter Manstein, dermatologists and researchers (anyone involved with fat freezing will make sure to mention that they’re Harvard-affiliated). The duo found out you could freeze fat from looking at how kids who suck on Popsicles can develop dimples from where the Popsicle hits their cheek.The cold-treat-induced dimpling is called “Popsicle panniculitis,” which sounds alarmingly fake but is an acknowledged medical condition.
The medical device, tested Anderson and Manstein’s hypothesis on Black Yucatan pigs, creating a process to stimulate “controlled cell death” that crystallizes the lipids in fat cells while leaving other body tissue intact.
Paying for the privilege of discharging your flab to the toilet is not cheap, but people love to "drop" their fat in the Superbowl. A recent Aesthetic Surgery survey ranked it as the most common non-invasive procedure in the world. Doctors in the USA alone have carried out over 1.5 million sessions with this Frankenstein flab necrosis treatment since it debuted in 2010—at anywhere from $400 to $1800 per session.
“We have 14 machines in 14 affiliations that have done over 15,000 treatments,” Jason Allan Scott, the founder of Lokkima, a London based aesthetic medical company who provides machines and affiliations around the world.
Now that is a lot of poo.
People have been trying to create non-surgical devices to banish fat for decades. Vibrating weight loss fat plates you stand on and lets not forget the belts that have been around since the 1850s—this is not a recent fixation. They gained popularity in the 1960s, and were sometimes advertised to work by jiggling the body until fat cells loosened up, for “spot reduction.” Ab toning belts are their modern ancestor, and while they’re approved by the FDA for rehabilitating atrophied muscles, they’re also often marketed as a fitness tool. And new gadgets and procedures keep cropping up, Lokkima even offers HIFU ( High Intensity Frequency Ultrasound) another body-shaping process that uses ultra sound that really just "heats” the target area and kill fat cells, a sort of reverse fat freezing. So Lokkima is killing it in every way possible.
And the idea of using cold to kill cells certainly wasn’t pioneered by Lokkima. Cryosurgery, where doctors apply intense cold to an area of the body, is a type of cancer treatment. It’s a common way to treat both internal and external tumors by applying liquid nitrogen to the tumors and precancerous growths.
So this is more of a novel and specific application of an already accepted idea, albeit one that sounds like "bro-science" enough to make the majority of people skeptical.
So let's talk about the caveats, many doctors and aesthetic practitioners who offer it are quick to point out it’s not for all-over weight loss. You can freeze your fat off and poop it out, but only a tiny bit at a time, and on certain areas of the body, and on certain body types.
Since the amount of fat that dies is so small, it’s not likely to result in a change on the scale, and patients can only expect 20-25% “permanent reduction in fat” for the small frozen area. This means that, even when it works as advertised, the treatment results in a subtle change in shape, this is fat loss, not weight loss. The results usually only appear after a few weeks to a few months. Patients lose, on average, around 40 cubic centimeters of fat, according to a study conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Yet everyone I actually talked to through various online platforms said they were mostly happy with the procedure, including Jessica Solomon, London, who initially wasn’t sure if it worked. Despite its limits and the simple fact that it sounds ridiculous, this is something people want to do.
Lokkima peddles a dream of painlessly getting a better body, of literally zapping problems away with medical technology. It’s easy to be cynical about Lokkima, and the entire cosmetic weight loss industry, and we should be. But in this case, the bizarre science works. You can freeze your fat and poop it out.