Freezing Fat: Weight Loss Treatment Zeltiq Approved by FDA

Zeltiq fights fat by freezing cells, causing them to self-destruct.

ByABC News
September 15, 2010, 7:50 AM

Sept. 15, 2010— -- If you can't diet or exercise it off, you can now try to freeze or zap it off. The Food and Drug Administration gave the green light for new weight loss treatments: one that freezes fat cells and another that uses a low-energy laser to shrink them.

For those that have a few annoying extra pounds or a bit of a bulge in all the wrong places, Zeltiq, may be the answer. Cleared last week by the FDA as a body contouring treatment, it uses a gel patch attached to a machine that freezes unwanted fat cells, causing them to self-destruct and get re-absorbed into the body over several months.

On the market for about a year, the drug was originally approved by the FDA to anesthetize and cool the skin before dermatology procedures. But doctors found that the device worked in the battle of the bulge as well.

"This is a big deal," plastic surgeon Lawrence Bass told "Good Morning America."

"It's the first time the FDA has cleared a non-invasive fat-reduction technology."

Former dancer and avid exerciser Lisa Pittonyak was a Zeltiq customer eight months ago to combat "my lower abdomen little pouch that I have."

"It's always bugged me, my whole life," she said. "At first it was a strange pulling feeling, a little painful," she said. "And after about five or 10 minutes, you basically get numb."

Although she's only lost about half an inch, she said she feels better about her body and that the $1,500 price was worth it.

"Bathing suit, summer time, the jeans, wearing tighter clothing," she said, ticking off the reasons how Zeltiq worked for her. "And not feeling like I have that little bulge."