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Where does the fat go after CoolSculpting? by Joel Bain Herron, MD

Solving the Mystery

When asked the question of what happens to the fat after CoolSculpting, most providers instinctively respond that it is eliminated or flushed from the body, presumably broken down into smaller particles and eliminated in the GI tract in the solid waste. I have heard others say the fat is turned into energy. Least likely of all of the possibilities, I have heard some say that the fat is converted into muscle. However, none of these are true.

So what does become of the fat? Fat is stored as long chains of hydrocarbons known as triglycerides. Triglycerides are made up of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. The consumption of oxygen is necessary to burn up, or “oxidize,” the triglycerides producing carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) as byproducts. The carbon dioxide gets exhaled through our lungs as we breathe out. The water leaves our body in the form of urine or sweat. About 85% of the oxidized fat leaves as carbon dioxide via the lungs, with the remaining 15% lost as water.

Diet and Exercise Still Important

Now some may start to think, “Can I lose weight simply by breathing more?”  Unfortunately, without an increased demand for oxygen and increased production of carbon dioxide, you would hyperventilate, possibly leading to fainting or dizziness. If you think about exercise, it leads to an increased demand for oxygen for the muscles, and an increased rate of breathing in order to meet that demand. Increased rates and depths of breathing during exercise allow your lungs to exhale more carbon dioxide.  As a byproduct, your body’s temperature also increases from the increased muscle activity, resulting in increased sweating to help with the water elimination.

So while CoolSculpting is a very nice and easy way to decrease some extra unwanted fat and reshape our body, nothing can completely replace nature’s design. Proper diet and exercise will remain key and integral parts of achieving and maintaining your desired body shape. And finally, I suppose the most correct answer to what happens to the fat is that it is, for the most part, exhaled out of our bodies through our lungs.


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