Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for the CoolSculpting procedure and I was provided with complimentary CoolSculpting treatment to write this review.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘fabulous after 40’? Oh, yes, there is plenty of fabulous that comes in your 40s. But there’s another phrase (that I’ll coin if it hasn’t already been done)… ‘fat after 40.’ And if you’re over 40, you know exactly what I mean.
Thanks to our hormones and genetics and that little old thing called pregnancy, our bodies are definitely redefined after 40. The little pockets of fat don’t seem to come and go like they used to. They just come and stay for a while. And it doesn’t seem to matter what your diet and exercise routine is, some areas of fat are just there to stay.
In my family, all of the females have what my mom calls “The Montgomery Pot.” I think it started with her mother (whose maiden name was Montgomery) and has continued with all of us. It’s that little pudge of fat right below your belly button. And if you’ve had children, particularly via C-section, it’s probably even worse.
This is why liposuction was invented. Men and women wanted a way to cheat themselves out of fat. Instead of reducing the amount of fat in your fat cells, liposuction was designed to suck those fat cells right out. I’m sure it worked well for many people. The downside is that it’s surgery. Pretty major surgery at that.
I’m not too keen to go under the knife for elective surgery but when Zeltiq (the parent company of the patented process known as CoolSculpting) asked me if I would consider trying their non-invasive, non-surgical fat-reduction procedure, my Montgomery Pot and I cheerily said yes.
What is CoolSculpting?
For years, it was known that freezing fat cells also killed them. However, the process by which you would freeze the fat cells would also freeze skin cells as well (essentially causing frostbite). So researchers developed a proprietary way to freeze targeted areas of fat without damaging the skin.
The CoolSculpting® procedure was introduced in 2005 and FDA cleared. It is the only completely non-surgical, clinically proven, safe and effective way to freeze away stubborn fat for good without surgery or downtime.
The technology was developed by Harvard scientists and is based on science of Cryolipolysis®, a process demonstrating that when fat cells are exposed to extreme cold, they die, and are naturally eliminated from the body for good.
During the CoolSculpting procedure, non-invasive applicators deliver precisely controlled cooling to the treatment area to specifically target underlying fat, leaving surface skin and other surrounding tissue unaffected. Following the CoolSculpting procedure, patients typically see a 20-25 percent reduction of fat in the treated area, with results as early as three weeks. The most dramatic results are typically observed 1-3 months after treatment.
What is CoolSculpting like?
What follows is a recount of everything leading up to and including the one day CoolSculpting procedure I experienced on November 19th. And although the treatment is done in a day, the recovery is a bit longer and the results even longer (typically 90 days for maximum results). Be sure to see how things progressed in my posts CoolSculpting Part 2: The Recovery and CoolSculpting Part 3: The Results.
On November 6th, I arrived at 11:30am for my scheduled consultation at Capital Laser & Skincare Center in Chevy Chase, MD. (Yes, that’s actually a real town that was probably long in existence before the comedian of the same name). It’s an upscale office in a upscale town and the lobby was gorgeous. I was already feeling young, thin, and fabulous just by walking in the door.
But reality set in when my technician, LeNhu, took me back to one of the consultation offices. It was there that she detailed the science behind the CoolSculpting procedure and answered all of my questions. And then she poked and prodded me in great detail to see if I was an eligible candidate.
In order to be eligible, you have to be in reasonably good shape (the process is not designed for obese people) with areas of fat that are easily targeted. Turns out I have all the right fat in the all the right places.
If you are interested in finding out if you are eligible for CoolSculpting, I encourage you to find a provider for a free consultation.
LeNhu and Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi both talked to me in detail about the CoolSculpting procedure and where they wanted to target the fat. It turns out I had EIGHT areas that they wanted to target – four quadrants of my abdomen, my lovehandles, and the lower area of back fat. Each area would involve a “cycle” from the CoolSculpting machine, which involves suction and freezing for about an hour. With two machines in the office, they had the ability to run two cycles per hour and prepared me for a minimum of four hours in the office.
With a green light for the procedure, I showed up for my scheduled appointment at 11am on November 19th. Per their suggestion, I came with comfortable, stretchy clothes and a spanx-style tank top to wear after the procedure. I also came with my laptop and big plans to get so much work done.
They introduced me to my room for the day and I settled in by completely disrobing and putting on the most awkward disposable bra and panties. By the end of the day, I was thankful that I had worn their undergarments as I was covered in the proprietary gel used for each cycle.
Here’s what actually happened
With my disposable undergarments on, I was photographed in embarrassing detail and my abdomen was appropriately marked up as a guide for the CoolSculpting cycles. Turns out, that was the easy part. I laid back in my reclining chair and waited for the first two cycles to begin.
To begin, they place a CoolSculpting gel cloth onto the area to be treated. Even though the cloth is kept at room temperature, it felt like a sheet of ice water was thrown onto the most sensitive part of my body. Luckily, the shock lasted less than 10 seconds as it served as a barrier to the extreme cold of the CoolSculpting cycle.
Next up was the application of the machine. Think of it as a rectangle vacuum attachment that sucks in the fatty area of the skin. Once the suction is secure, the application of the cold begins. For the first five minutes, the affected area feels tingly but goes numb shortly thereafter. Then you’re sitting for the next hour while your fat is chilled to -10 degrees Celsius.
But that’s not the worst of it. The worst part comes when the hour is up and the device is removed.
Wonder what fat looks like when it’s been frozen for an hour? Think about a frozen stick of butter. In fact, that’s the description you’ll find if you research the procedure online. I’m going to be honest. It’s gross. So gross that I took a picture but refused to put it in this post. You can, however, see my photo if you’re so inclined.
It’s not that your frozen stick of fat hurts, at least not initially. It’s that they have to massage the tissue and that hurts. The area is aggressively massaged for one minute and then gently for another minute. And then you’re done!
This process continued for four hours with each hour including two freezing cycles followed by massage. And while I planned to get work done, I never even got my computer out. I did a few Periscopes, played some games, checked my phone, and watched some of my favorite movies on the TV in the room.
When the day came to an end
With bathroom breaks, a lunch break (they provided me a delicious veggie burger), and a few restarts, I finished up at around 5:30pm. They cleaned up my abdomen and allowed me to get dressed. Swollen and numb, I was happy to put on the spanx-type tank top to hold everything in place and my comfy stretch pants for the hour drive home.
I was sore and bruised but that was only the beginning of the recovery. Go read the next installment at CoolSculpting Part 2: The Recovery!
Thanks to Zeltiq and Capital Laser & Skincare for providing complimentary consultation and treatment for CoolSculpting. My goal is to provide an accurate and honest description of my experience with CoolSculpting. Please remember that provider services varies (my provider was EXCELLENT and went into great detail about exactly what to expect) and individual experiences vary.