Decades ago, cosmetic enhancement entered a new and lucrative era with the emergence of Botox, a botulinum toxin that paralyzes muscles to erase visible signs of aging.
In 2017, Botox is still as popular as ever. And now, a new process that addresses a different portion of the cosmetic surgery industry is quickly gaining ground—one that can freeze and kill off fat cells without injections or anesthesia. It’s been trademarked by one company as CoolSculpting, and those concerned about areas of unwanted fat believe it's the next big thing in cosmetic enhancement.
In a huge industry vote of confidence, pharmaceutical company Allergan Plc agreed to pay $2.48 billion this week for Zeltiq, the company behind CoolSculpting. Also known as "body contouring," medical professionals take an instrument and place it over fatty tissue for approximately 35 to 60 minutes (treatment length will vary by procedure). Freezing temperatures attack the fat cells, up to 20 percent of which die off and are then eliminated by the body within weeks.
Because the procedure is non-invasive and doesn’t require the downtime of a surgical intervention like a tummy tuck or liposuction, patients are usually under no restrictions and can resume normal activity quickly. It’s typically used for the abdominal area and under the buttocks.
According to Bloomberg, CoolSculpting and similar efforts are catching on because the patient can pay in cash, eliminating insurance hassles—cosmetic intervention isn’t usually covered—and practitioners can collect up to $4000 per treatment. If patients are happy with the results, they’re likely to return for more, or opt for further refinement with Botox and other methods.
Allergan is betting CoolSculpting will be a huge portion of the body contouring market that's expected to grow to $10.5 billion by 2020. And they should know: Allergan also owns Botox.