Does frost bite kill fat cells? (photo)

In a botched at home cool sculpting attempt I have given myself frost bite. I placed cool packs directly on my sides for 15 min. and the hospital has confirmed that I gave myself frost bite. I've learned my lesson and WILL NOT do it again, it is swollen, red, painful and could have serious perminent damage. But if I have given myself frost bite for nothing I will be seriously pissed. So for the damage I have done, will I at least have killed some fat cells and have some effect of cool sculpting?

Doctor Answers 8

Frost bite and fat cells

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Dear pudding.0,

Thank you for your clinical post and photograph. Certainly an interesting if not ill-fated attempt to replicate a very delicate process. CoolSculpting relies on significant body of research and knowledge with suction coupled hypothermia whereby the superficial areas of the skin is preserved with the delicate technique and the fat cells are lowered to 5 degrees Celsius. This generally avoids skin trauma and the fat cells undergo apoptosis. Without suction coupling and just placing cool packs on the skin the fat will not be cooled as the body is excellent in maintaining core temperature. Prolonged exposure of the skin cells to near freezing temperatures does result in a hypothermy injury. The erythema that you’re experiencing is likely not going to lead to a skin necrosis or death, but careful follow-up with a local hospital and a physician will ensure that you’re being monitored and cared for attentively.

If the area of skin involved resolves completely there will be no long-term damage and unfortunately no long-term damage to your fat cells.

My advice is that you undergo a proper consultation and treatment at a certified CoolSculpting Centre.
I hope this information is of some assistance and best of luck.

To find out more, please visit the link below.

R. Stephen Mulholland, M.D.
Certified Plastic Surgeon
Yorkville, Toronto

Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Does frost bite kill fat cells?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Thank you for your question. Sorry to hear that. Your underlying tissue is likely unaffected. Please ensure that you follow the instructions given to you by your doctor. 


Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 508 reviews

Needs some time

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Your skin injury from the cold will need some time to declare any problems.
You may turn out fine as your body heals. It is unsure if the cold will damage the deeper fat without damaging your skin.
Keep up with your instructions from the doctors and hospital.

You might also like...

Frostbite from DIY fat loss with ice

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Dear pudding.0:

Frostbite is a cold injury to the layers of the skin and will injure the epidermis, dermis, fat and even cause skin loss and changes in sensation from lack of circulation or direct cold injury.

Thank you for sharing your photo. It appears that you have cold injured the first layer of the skin and will not experience a fat loss result. It is helpful but does not show the “whole” picture of what happened or what can occur. For this reason, please continue in your care with your primary care physician.

Please consider consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and Certified CoolSculpting Team to achieve your safe and effective non-surgical fat loss results.

All the best!

Dean P. Kane, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Frost bite

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

I am sorry for your problem.  Frost bite is thermal injury to the skin and has nothing to do with fat dissolving or coolsculpting.  Please have the proper wound care so that you don't have more injury to your skin and surrounding tissue. Best, Dr. Green

Coolsculpting and Frost Bite

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
It is likely you damaged your skin and will need wound care at this time, the fat is likely unaffected.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 204 reviews

Frost Bite

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
No, It appears your most likely only damaged your skin and therefore would not affect the underlying subcutaneous fat and tissue. Therefore, you would not have any fat loss from your attempts. The reason CoolSculpting works is because it goes deeper into the tissue while avoiding too much cooling in the skin, thus avoiding frost bite, but effectively treating the deeper fat layer. I would recommend you see a board certified dermatologist for appropriate care for your injury. 

Lenore Sikorski, MD
Orange County Dermatologist
4.4 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Does frost bite kill fat cells?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
You've likely only damaged your skin by the look of the photo.  Your underlying tissue/fat likely has little or no damage.  I recommend seeing your PCP, a dermatologist, or plastic surgeon about your injury to make sure you are caring for it appropriately.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.