CoolSculpting Promised to Zap Fat. For Some, It Brought Disfigurement.

Posted 19 April 2023

CoolSculpting is among the most popular fixes for unwanted bulges. But the risk of a serious side effect appears to be higher than previously known.

More than a dozen years ago, a medical device hit the market with a tantalizing promise: It could freeze away stubborn pockets of fat quickly, painlessly and without surgery.

The device, called CoolSculpting, was entering an already-crowded beauty industry selling flatter stomachs and tauter jaw lines, but it had an advantage: a vaunted scientific pedigree. The research behind its development came from a lab at Harvard Medical School’s primary teaching hospital, a detail noted routinely in news features and talk show segments.

The pitch worked. CoolSculpting machines are now common in dermatology and plastic surgery offices and medical spas, and the technology has generated more than $2 billion in revenue.

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