When I first heard about a new, non-invasive treatment that supposedly eliminated pockets of fat —painlessly —I was skeptical, to say the least. Then I started hearing good things from friends who had tried it. Soon, prominent dermatologists I spoke to were praising the technology. It’s called Coolsculpting by Zeltiq, an FDA-approved treatment that works by cooling fat cells and causing them to die. (They are then supposedly flushed out of the body slowly over the next two to four months.) It sounded scary—but also kind of awesome.
So, last night, I went ahead and had a CoolSculpting session with dermatologist Anne Chapas. Here’s what I learned: The best candidates for the treatment are people who are basically in shape, but with areas of stubborn fat, and who understand that it’s never going to be as dramatic as liposuction and is not going to eliminate the fat altogether. (Dr. Chapas said I will probably see a 20 percent reduction in the fat on my stomach. Hello, sounds good to me!) And no, it didn’t hurt. There’s about a minute’s worth of somewhat significant discomfort, but not really pain, when the machine first suctions up the area to be treated. Dr. Chapas told that it also might feel very cold, but it didn’t, really.) Then, it’s basically just a lot of boredom as you sit there for an hour with your stomach compressed in the machine waiting for it to do its job. The worst part for me was at the end of the treatment when they unhooked me from the device. It’s not that that was painful, but Dr. Chapas had warned me that the area would still be frozen and would look raised and weird—”like a stick of butter.” Unnervingly, that’s exactly what it looked like. (She massaged the area and it was back to normal within minutes. Thank god.) Some patients experience temporary numbing, bruising, or cramping after the treatment; I thought I didn’t have any side effects until I woke up this morning and the whole area was numb. So, now, the waiting game—and hopefully the fat cell death!—begins. Dr. Chapas says I can expect to see results in about two months. I’ll be reporting back then with an update!
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