Is losing weight without moving a muscle fact or fiction?
Blame it on the summertime, but recently, at events across the Northern Hemisphere, a topic is back on the tips of tongues: CoolSculpting.
Not a new technology, the fat-freezing procedure formally called cryolipolysis was first discovered after, rumour has it, doctors noticed that children who ate a lot of ice-pops experienced fat degradation in their cheeks.
As it happens, fat is more temperature-sensitive than your skin, going through the cell death process far before your skin does.
The procedure eliminates stubborn fat safely and effectively, without surgery or downtime. It was first approved by the FDA back in 2010 and gained attention when it was rebranded from minor spot treatment to a noninvasive alternative to liposuction, promising to eviscerate stubborn pockets of fat such as love handles and bra bulge with the wave of a cooling paddle.
Most recently, the non-surgical fat reduction tool was cleared to tackle loose skin under the chin, a smaller area that is more difficult to alter through natural means like diet and exercise.
How does it work?
CoolSculpting procedures use rounded paddles in one of four sizes to suction your skin and fat like a vacuum.
While you sit in a recliner chair for up to two hours, cooling panels set to work, crystallising your fat cells. With my experience, the vacuum-like paddles work in 35-minute cycles at -11 degrees Celsius. My pain threshold is quite high, but I even found my face scrunching for the first five minutes. After that, it's wholly manageable and, if anything, just feels a little odd.
I received the treatment on my back, just below the bra strap. I lay on my front on a bed and had the vacuum working on me as I worked remotely. Afterwards, I noticed some light bruising (full disclosure: I have haemophilia and bruise like a male ego) which went down in a few days.
The procedure can be used on any number of areas on which pockets of fat jut forward. I attended the Laser and Skin Clinic which treats the following areas:
- Abdomen (Tummy and post-baby bulges)
- Double chin
- Love handles and flanks
- Inner and outer thighs
- Bra bulges and back fat
- Upper arms/bingo wings
- Banana roll
- Man Boobs
While CoolSculpting isn't a quick fix by any means (it takes three months to burn the fat entirely from your body), in my experience, it does make a difference. The Laser and Skin Clinic took before and after photos of me to compare and, despite my total cynicism, there was a definite difference.
The stubborn pocket of fat underneath my bra strap was noticeably more refined. I was shocked, although I shouldn't have been. It's science.
I must stress that this is, by no means, a method of weight loss. To the Baggot Street clinic's credit, it's never marketed that way. It's simply a method of removing certain fat cells in targeted areas.
It often takes a few treatments to get to your optimum results, with a single treatment often yielding very minimal change, sometimes imperceptible to clients. What will happen with repeated treatments is an up to 25% fat reduction in a treatment area. The good part is that these changes are permanent.
Is it safe?
Because this is a noninvasive procedure, the risks, comparatively speaking, are very low. Contour irregularities can occur the same way they might in liposuction. While the CoolSculpting machine leaves less room for human error in terms of fat removal, it also has its limitations in terms of fine-tuning removal the way an artful plastic surgeon might by hand.
So, too, a potential complication lies with your numbed nerves feeling as though they’ve fallen asleep for a number of weeks. Wounds will not occur, and swelling is minimal. Further risks should be discussed with your doctor.
Is it worth it?
It depends. Results seem to vary hugely, but I will that that my experience was pleasantly surprising. However, it will set you back a hefty fee. Prices start from €500 per cycle with further discounts on 6+ cycles – although, for my experience, I would have paid well over €1,000.
For those of you keen to shift fat from hard-to-tone areas, I would definitely research it, but for those of you who are looking for a quick-fix, this is not it.
Main image by @realbarbarapalvin