DIY: Coolsculptor (Cryolipolysis) codename: FrankenSculptor – PART 1

I’ve been working on building my own Coolsculpting device as Zeltiq are offering.It is a machine which reduces fat cells in the body. A video on it is below.

The way in which it does this is explained in the patent, found here:

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=5&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=zeltiq&OS=zeltiq&RS=zeltiq

The patent says a number of interesting things about how it works including the temperature to get it to run at.

[Quoted from Patent: An exemplary range for the cooling elements 130a-b can be from about -20.degree. C. to about 20.degree. C., preferably from about -20.degree. C. to about 10.degree. C., more preferably from about -15.degree. C. to about 5.degree. C., more preferably from about -10.degree. C. to about 0.degree. C. ]

My machine is currently running at -3C and to avoid freezing the controller bounces it between -3C and 0C. I am still in testing stages in using liquids/gels which don’t freeze so that I can get to -5C and keep it there.  I am currently using salt water drenched cloth, but this freezes at -5C.
If anyone knows what sort of liquid/gel I can obtain easily, mess free and doesn’t freeze at -5C, please let me know!!

So how does the FrankenSculptor work?

Well we need to be aware of a couple of mechanisms that make the Coolsculptor work:

1) The cooling effect keeps the fat cells at about -5 Degrees Celsius for up to an hour. If the cells get cooler you risk damage to non-fat cells. If it gets warmer the fat cells may not undergo apoptosis.

2) The vacuum ‘sucking’ of the fat also assist in limiting the amount of blood to the area being treated. This prevent the body from warming up the fat cells. The lack of blood is a double-edged sword in that when the device is switched off and the blood rushes back to the area, the cells are ‘shocked’ and this also kills the cell (there is a technical name for this which I have forgotten. Its in the patent if you’re interested)

So, knowing the above I created FrankenSculptor. The two aluminium plates serve to transfer heat (or in this case, remove heat) quickly while also having a clamping mechanism to ‘squeeze’ the blood away from the area. Given that its not a vacuum I am hoping it is enough to cause apoptosis of the fat cells.
The two aluminium plates need to be cooled to below room temperature, so this means a normal radiator system wont be enough as it cannot cool below room temp. An active cooling system is needed. Luckily we have such a device! The Peltier (aka TEC, Thermo Electric Cooler) is a bunch of transistors which when powered cause a temperature differential between each side (TEC’s are cheap. Around $20 each. Be careful when buying TEC’s as you may get cheap Chinese crap for much cheaper, but it may not work as well). The transistors are placed in an array and ceramic plates are glued to either side to transfer the heat evenly. The TEC as a kind of ‘heat pump’ so it takes heat from one surface and places it on the other. Causing one plate to be cooler than the other. This actual function is very inefficient and as a result a lot of heat is generated from the TEC itself. So you need a very good cooling system to remove the heat from the hot plate, so that the TEC can continue to put more heat to it and cause the cool plate to get colder.

To do this I used a computer CPU closed-loop cooler. Essentially it is a block of copper which is liquid cooled. The heated liquid is pumped through a radiator which is cooled and sent back to the cooling block to re-heat. Like a car radiator. For what it is and does, this device is relatively cheap (around $150 each), the CPU coolers which you can build yourself are much more expensive but you get to choose how long the pipes are that connect the radiator to the cooling block (the ones I used had pipes too short and got in the way often). Two plates on my FrankenSculptor required a TEC each and a CPU cooler each.
These devices are assembled using heat transfer paste and copper sheet between the aluminium and TEC for heat transfer. The TEC’s run on DC power and so do the CPU coolers! Great! This means we can use a computer PSU to power everything. I love working with DC too as it’s much more predictable and less dangerous than AC :)
For the prototype I am using a 800W PSU (make sure you get a decent one. A cheapo one may not power the TEC’s properly).

So how can we control the temperature of the TEC? We don’t want it to go as cool as possible and stay there (for the record, the coldest I could get was just over -10C).
The TEC’s can accept anywhere from 5v – 15v. If you vary the voltage you can control the temperature. The PSU’s only output 12v+/-, 5v+/- and 3.3v+. Using some clever electronics we could regulate the voltage, but I found this more challenging and convoluted than needed. Instead, I opted for a controller which controlled the temperature using pulses (essentially, turning the TEC off when too cold and back on when too warm). The TEC’s don’t like to be controlled this way if you are switching too quickly, so be sure you don’t create a controller which switches the TEC a number of times per second. Eventually you will have a dead TEC.
My controller is Arduino-based. It runs off the 5v rail of the PSU. It monitors the temperature and adjusts accordingly. It also has a screen to let you know what is going on. I won’t go in to detail about this just yet as I still need to post up those pictures. Stay tuned!!

There are so many different facets of this project that needed to come together. Because of this the construction of this device took a while.
To make things easier for me, I will be splitting the DIY in to multiple parts. At the moment it looks like it will be 3 parts but this may change later.

EDIT: Part 2 is now available. See main menu for link.

Any questions or want to discuss the project? Post a comment! I am alerted of comments immediately and will reply within 24 hours.

10 thoughts on “DIY: Coolsculptor (Cryolipolysis) codename: FrankenSculptor – PART 1

  1. Love the build. I was thinking of using cryolipolysis, but I’m starting out slow with low temps using gel/ice packs. What is the temperature Zeltic uses? I thought I read 5 degrees C.

    • Jesse, there is no official word from Zeltiq on this. During their own testing they use a unit of measurement for temperature which incorporates the rate at which the temp drops/climbs. I think they intentionally used an obscure unit of measurement (which, incidentally, they created themselves!) to further throw off would-be competitors.
      My educated guess on the temp is -5degC.
      I got this information primarily from two sources:
      1) The Zeltiq-submitted patent information mentions a variety of temperature ranges where the most ideal range has -5degC in the middle.
      2) Chinese-produced knock-offs of the Zeltiq run at this temperature. One would hope they would get the temperature correct ;)

      On the flip side. I spoke to a doctor who carries out these procedures and he told me it is +5degC. So, be sure to research it yourself and careful you dont give yourself frostbite.

  2. Pingback: DIY Coolsculptor Freezes Fat with Cryolipolysis

    • I am currently testing using antifreeze. This is working fine as I am pushing the TEC’s to the limit (about -18degC) and the antifreeze is still in liquid state. So using it on the body shouldn’t be an issue.
      Indeed, I have used it once so far at -5degC for 45 minutes and no tissue damage at all.

  3. Really interested on hearing the results in the coming weeks/months..

    As for the liquid/gel I would recommend using a glycerine-water mixture with a ratio of 1:3. You can easily obtain glycerine from a pharmacy or even a supermarket where it may be in the medicinal area. It’s also occasional used in some cooking receipes. It’s completely non-toxic and is easily the best option for you. You can easily make a gel type solution by adding gelatine in the same way as you would make jelly.. just more diluted.

    For the ultimate anti-freeze you can look at Propylene Glycol – pure solutions of which can be obtained via photographic chemical suppliers. It’s also non toxic not necessarily food grade versus glycerine which usually is. PG is also the major component of automotive anti-freeze but please don’t use that, as it often includes anti-corrosive chemical additives and pH stabilisers which would definitely make it toxic and cause major skim problems.

    For more info on glycerine/water solutions have a read of: http://msdssearch.dow.com/PublishedLiteratureDOWCOM/dh_0032/0901b803800322ae.pdf?filepath=glycerine/pdfs/noreg/115-00663.pdf&fromPage=GetDoc

    • David, you are awesome!
      I very much like the idea of glycerine-water made as a gel. I will look in to this. This is preferred over the antifreeze mixture as antifreeze is poisonous so I need to be careful I don’t get it on surfaces used for food preparation etc.

      I will update this blog with results. Thanks again.

  4. And now the big questions:
    - are you still alive, in one piece and not too much frostbitten? :-)
    - does your device work in the battle against lovehandles?
    - does cryolipolysis work in general?
    - what’s the advantage in DYI over buying it somewhere online (except for all the fun ofcourse)

    I was thinking about building something myself but I am wondering if it is worth it.

    • Yes, I am still alive! hehe.
      I am sorry to report I have been a bad boy. I haven’t done any further testing and won’t be until mid February (which is when I get annual leave). Things have been too busy for me.
      The initial runs look like they worked, but 3 months is a long time and I can’t tell if it is because of the machine or my diet/exercise. So I plan to run the machine a few more times on one side of my body only, this should give me a definitive answer. Sorry, but this means I should have an answer for everyone around mid May.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s