Pregnancy is arguably one of the most body-altering periods of a woman’s life. Sure, things eventually shrink and sit where they’re “supposed” to — but ask a handful of new moms whether their bodies feel dramatically changed, and they might just say yes. This is particularly true if the person you’re asking has tried to snap back to their pre-baby physique with diet and exercise, only to be stuck with stubborn belly fat.
In the case of relentless adipose pockets, a fat-freezing treatment like CoolSculpting® can be particularly effective. “CoolSculpting can help with what I call proportion shifting,” explains Laura Palmisano, P.A.-C., contouring certain areas of the body by reducing stubborn pockets of fat. “This kind of shape-shifting can really help some women.”
[Editor’s note: The CoolSculpting treatment is a non-invasive fat-freezing treatment that effectively reduces fat in certain self-proclaimed “problem spots” in the submental and submandibular areas, thigh, abdomen, flank, and upper arm, along with bra fat, back fat, and underneath the buttocks (you know, those bulges that just won’t go away, regardless of how much you sweat it out on the treadmill). While it isn’t a weight loss solution, fat-freezing can reduce pouches of fat. As with any procedure, there are risks and side effects, so talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for you.]
Unlike surgical “mommy makeover” procedures, CoolSculpting is non-surgical, with little to no downtime. Plus, fat-freezing focuses solely on eliminating treated fat cells — no lifting, tightening, or smoothing involved. CoolSculpting works via a targeted applicator, which a practitioner applies to your body to freeze the targeted fat pocket undergoing treatment. With the latest technology, after about 35 to 120 minutes, depending on the area being treated, the fat freezes into the likeness of a cold stick of butter. Then, your practitioner massages the area to aid the destruction of the treated fat cells. Over time, the body continues to break down the fat and expel the treated cells. Typically, you may start to see results in about one to three months.
Fat-freezing may sound futuristic, but the clinical science behind CoolSculpting was actually inspired by a chance observation decades ago. (In short, in 1970, two Harvard scientists noticed that some children got dimples after eating a lot of popsicles — from this, they deduced that cold can selectively affect fat.)
While the technicalities of fat-freezing treatments are certainly interesting, there’s something to be said about reading a real person’s firsthand account of the experience — especially if you’re considering fat-freezing for yourself. Below, three moms share their own CoolSculpting journeys — from their incentive for undergoing treatment, to their feelings during the treatment, to their results post-treatment.
Dr. Gervaise Gerstner, Dermatologist, Mother of Two
Dr. Gerstner was one of the first doctors in New York City to offer CoolSculpting — but only after she tested the technology on herself and a close colleague first. “After a month, I [began to see the results], and bought the machine immediately [for my practice],” she says.
“CoolSculpting really is perfect for [stubborn belly fat] — provided it’s not [really] just loose skin and is truly a [stubborn] little pocket of fat,” she says. Case in point: Gerstner’s own experience. “[A few years after giving birth], I was thin, back to my pre-baby weight, but I still had a little belly that wouldn’t go away,” she shares. “As my daughter got older, she started to point it out a lot,” Gerstner laughs. So, seven years after she was born, Gerstner decided to try CoolSculpting on the area. It worked to reduce the bulge.
“The technology really works when used appropriately,” she says. (Though, she notes that it is not a weight loss treatment, nor is it going to make cellulite disappear.) Gerstner was so happy with her results, that she has since recommended CoolSculpting to patients with similar concerns.
Timna Sherman, 44, Mother of Two
Despite eating well and exercising regularly, Sherman simply couldn't shed the telltale pouch of motherhood. The mom of two was willing to try anything to get back into her bikini for the summer, so she scheduled a consultation with Dr. Gerstner, who deemed her a candidate for CoolSculpting.
Sherman booked an appointment on the spot and underwent her CoolSculpting treatment shortly before Memorial Day. “[The process] wasn’t exactly painful,” Sherman recalls, “[but it was] very, very cold, and the suction sensation was intense.” (Dr. Gerstner provides warm blankets and Netflix® during the process, which Sherman said helped.)
Sherman was sore for the week post-treatment, but she still managed to resume her usual routine and even play tennis. Sure enough, Sherman’s CoolSculpting results ultimately began to appear. “I wore a bikini [that] summer [as the results became more noticeable],” she says. “My [overall] size didn’t change, but how I looked changed [because the treated fat pockets on my belly were reduced].”
Sheana Smith*, 36, Mother of Two and Repeat CoolSculpting Patient
Smith, a general manager for a dermatological practice in New York City, had witnessed the results of CoolSculpting on patients first hand. She had already lost half of her pregnancy weight through healthy diet and exercise, however she noticed that stubborn fat on her love handles was not budging, despite her diet and exercise efforts. “[Love handles] have always been my struggle area,” she says. “I couldn’t target my love handles even at my thinnest; having kids just perpetuated it.”
So, Smith underwent her first CoolSculpting treatment administered by Laura Palmisano, PA-C. “The pain level [was] only a 1 or a 2 [for me],” Smith recalls. “It just feels like icicles for a few [minutes], but quickly cools so that you are basically numb to the cold.”
After Smith finished treatment on her love handles, she knew she wanted to try CoolSculpting on more areas of stubborn fat. “I saw results within six weeks and it kept getting better and better [over the next few months. I also continued] with diet and exercise,” she notes. Over a two year period, Smith underwent two additional CoolSculpting treatments: one on her upper abdomen, and one on her lower abdomen.
Smith’s last CoolSculpting treatment was in the early summer of 2018. “The [treated] fat [hasn’t] come back to these areas,” she says. The best part: she can rock a bikini again.
[Editor’s note: Individual results and experience may vary.]
*Name has been changed.
CoolSculpting® is an Allergan®-owned non-invasive fat reduction treatment.
CoolSculpting® Treatment Important Information
The CoolSculpting® procedure is FDA-cleared for the treatment of visible fat bulges in the submental (under the chin) and submandibular (under the jawline) areas, thigh, abdomen and flank (love handles), along with bra fat, back fat, underneath the buttocks (also known as banana roll), and upper arm. It is also FDA-cleared to affect the appearance of lax tissue with submental area treatments. The CoolSculpting procedure is not a treatment for weight loss.
Important Safety Information
The CoolSculpting procedure is not for everyone. You should not have the CoolSculpting procedure if you suffer from cryoglobulinemia, cold agglutinin disease, or paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria.
Tell your licensed healthcare provider if you have any medical conditions including recent surgery, pre-existing hernia, and any known sensitivities or allergies.
During the procedure you may experience sensations of pulling, tugging, mild pinching, intense cold, tingling, stinging, aching, and cramping at the treatment site. These sensations subside as the area becomes numb. Following the procedure, typical side effects include temporary redness, swelling, blanching, bruising, firmness, tingling, stinging, tenderness, cramping, aching, itching, or skin sensitivity, and sensation of fullness in the back of the throat after submental or submandibular area treatment.
Rare side effects may also occur. CoolSculpting may cause a visible enlargement in the treated area which may develop two to five months after treatment and requires surgical intervention for correction.