The Big Chill
CoolSculpting is an innovative procedure used to eradicate stubborn fat deposits.
Kelly, a 40-year-old Colorado Springs woman, had lost, as she says, “a decent amount of weight,” but there was still some stubborn fat clinging to her midsection and elsewhere.
So she turned to CoolSculpting, which has been touted as the world’s No. 1 noninvasive fat-reduction procedure. Over the course of multiple sessions, she has used CoolSculpting to attack the fat in her midsection—“especially the love handles area,” she says—along with her hips and inner thighs.
The effects were subtle at first, she says. “I noticed that maybe there’s not as much to grab there.” But after three months, the results have been striking.
Kelly’s CoolSculpting procedures were done at Rocky Mountain Laser Center. CoolSculpting was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2010, and Rocky Mountain Laser Center has been doing the procedure for four years, says Dr. Nathan Trookman, medical director of the facility. CoolSculpting.com lists 10 providers in the Colorado Springs area, and Rocky Mountain Laser Center is listed as a top “Diamond Crystal Practice.”
“The use of treatments for fat has been around forever,” Trookman says, “but I think the latest generations have really sort of separated as to which is the most successful.” And the data, he says, points to CoolSculpting as tops in eradicating fat in a noninvasive way. “It has been a huge success for us.”
Of course, science progresses, and there have been several improvements since CoolSculpting was introduced, he says. The time of a session has been cut from about 50 minutes to 30 to 35 minutes. And the attachments used to deliver the treatment come in more and larger sizes to cover more parts of the body; CoolSculpting was originally approved for reducing flank and abdominal fat but now has been approved for several areas, including back fat and the upper arms.
So how does it work? CoolSculpting applicators use suction to pull in and isolate the fat areas. Then “precisely controlled cooling” is delivered to target those fat cells underneath the skin. The cells are crystallized (essentially frozen), then die; about 20% to 25% of fat cells in the treated areas are eliminated.
“Once the cells are dead, they go away,” Trookman says. Your body processes the fat and excretes the dead cells; although the process causes “a very temporary elevation in your cholesterol and tryglicerides,” he says, it’s very subtle and no worse than eating a fatty meal.
The fat-freezing technology, he says, “was based on the principle of what we call ‘popsicle panniculitis.’” It was found that young children who sucked on a popsicle for a long time got permanent indentations—dimples—in their cheeks. The suction and the cold were eliminating small pockets of fat cells. “So popsicle panniculitis was then taken to a bigger scale,” Trookman says, “and now is used worldwide to get rid of fat.”
As you might imagine, those undergoing CoolSculpting should expect “intense” cold at the start. “It’s like putting your foot in an ice-water bath,” Trookman says. But the area soon goes numb.
After the treatment, “they massage it out,” Kelly says. “Sometimes that can be a little tender, but not too tender.”
Patients can read, watch TV, or even nap during the procedure and return to normal activities immediately after. The CoolSculpting website lists temporary redness, tingling, stinging, and tenderness among the typical side effects.
Results may be seen in a matter of weeks although the most dramatic results will be evident in two to three months. And multiple sessions may be needed to get the desired results, Trookman says. Cost depends on the number of areas being treated and how many sessions are undertaken, but it typically ranges from $2,000 to $4,000, according to CoolSculpting.com. Although there are products on the market, such as fat-freezing belts, for a much lower cost, Trookman says don’t waste your money: It’s not just the cold, but the negative suction that’s needed to get results, and that process is patented by CoolSculpting.
It’s important to note that CoolSculpting is an “inches reduction program,” not a weight-loss program, Trookman says. “We are looking for people who are fairly fit, who are close to their idea body weight” but who are plagued by those nagging fat deposits that won’t go away through diet and exercise and who want to look better in a bathing suit or skinny jeans. “We turn a lot of people away,” he says. “If they’re too heavy, they really need to lose weight.”
Determining who is a good candidate is key to the whole process, says Trookman, who has undergone CoolSculpting himself on his love handles. The staff at Rocky Mountain Laser Center, he says, “are really good at analyzing the skin, determining what hand pieces are needed to sculpt the body, how many treatments do you need. You have to have somebody who does a lot of this because they can tailor the treatment to get the best results.”