I’d happily sign up for a facial or a deep tissue massage every other day — but when it comes to slightly more involved procedures, I tend to be more reluctant. So, when an opportunity to have CoolSculpting® done at Phoenix’s Bodify® presented itself, I was equal parts enticed by the idea and hesitant to actually go for it.
Ultimately, I decided that it couldn’t hurt to at least go in for a consult, especially since I’d been feeling frustrated with stubborn fat on my upper arms and abdomen even with consistent, intense exercise. Also, having written about fat freezing extensively, I was already aware of what the process entailed and what the results may be like. I felt comfortable in Bodify’s hands since CoolSculpting is literally the only procedure performed by their practitioners.
[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 a licensed provider to see if it’s right for you.]
However, because many people need more than one round of fat freezing to see results, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to write about the treatment from a firsthand perspective. Afterall, the full results can take months to see. So, I kept a writer’s diary starting from the very beginning to document my journey. And that, friends, is what you’ll read below.
[Editor’s note: Individual experiences and results may vary.]
Day One: Consultation & Treatment
Before walking in for my appointment today, I knew what to expect from all my own reporting on the topic, and had realistic expectations for my results. I had even talked to a handful of people about their personal experiences with CoolSculpting. Still, nothing can prepare you for experiencing the actual treatment. I sat down with Melissa Mickelson (who co-founded Bodify with her sister, Jessica Stellwagen) and she spent about 45 minutes examining me, answering all my questions, and showing me before-and-after pictures.
She then dove into treatment on my upper and lower abdomen and a small section under each of my upper arms, using six-various sized applicators, which “sucked” my skin into them to freeze the fat. Surprisingly, this sensation wasn’t painful or uncomfortable. However, once the cooling sensation began, I experienced some discomfort. For my abs, this lasted for about five to 10 minutes, and then tapered away once the area became numb. It felt like a “so cold it’s hot” sensation, with some tingling and period-like cramping. For my upper arms, it seemed as though the pain only dissipated slightly.
After the treatment was done (it took about 90 minutes in total), specialists removed the applicators and massaged each of the treated areas for about two minutes. As I began to warm up, I experienced some more cramping and tingling but, for me, the massaging helped relieve that (apparently the massaging can be uncomfortable for some people). The treated areas were red, puffy, and tender at this point.
I took my time getting dressed, got the rundown on what else I could expect and what I should and shouldn’t do, then headed home to take a shower. My abdomen, specifically, was still slightly numb, sensitive to the touch, and swollen that evening. But, I was able to go to Pure Barre® that night, and exercise as usual. When I got home, sleep came easily but, anytime I repositioned myself, I was reminded of my tender upper arms and belly.
Day Two: Some Noteworthy Swelling
When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was just how swollen my belly was. It definitely felt larger than usual, so I opted for stretchy pants. It also still felt kind of numb, and both my stomach and upper arms felt bruised (but weren’t visibly so). I drank tons of water, massaged each area three times for about two minutes as prescribed, and felt extremely tired throughout the day. Toward the end of the evening, I started to get an itchy sensation in my upper arms, which were becoming less tender. My abdomen, however, was still swollen and tender by the time I went to bed.
Day Three: Bloat Improved!
I woke up this morning feeling less swollen and generally less fatigued. I even decided to put on a pair of jeans instead of leggings. The biggest thing I’m experiencing is — and this is so not sexy — some gurgling in my tummy. I consulted my at-home care paperwork and saw that gastrointestinal upset can be a symptom.
The team at Bodify called me this morning, and we talked through some of my current symptoms, which I was told were all normal. My abdomen was still slightly numb, but less tender. My upper arms felt like I got a really great workout that happened to target the areas I’m most concerned with.
Day Four: Gurgles Abound
My stomach was still gurgling today, which was pretty annoying. I was also still a bit swollen, but there was no pain unless I pressed against the treated areas (like during my thrice-daily massages). I had a great workout in the early evening and wasn’t really bothered by anything.
Day Five: Bring on the Itching
The itching on my abdomen has officially set in. It feels like I’m being tickled underneath the surface, but the outside is still somewhat numb so I can’t sate the itch. And, yes, I’m still swollen.
Day Seven: More Deep Itching
The numbness has pretty much completely subsided. I get deep itching sensations in the evening, and now I almost look forward to those daily self-massages — despite the discomfort — because they help to satisfy the itch. Most of the inflammation and swelling has gone down, so now I feel more like myself.
Day 10: Status Quo
Not much of a change over the last few days, just more intense itching in the evenings. I’m hoping I can completely forget about any “side effects” soon.
Day 11: Ran a 5K
I finished a 5K race today and didn’t even remember that I had CoolSculpting done. I didn’t feel bloated, itchy, numb, or sore.
Week Four: One Month Check-In
I haven’t updated this because, well, not much has happened. However, today marks exactly one month post-treatment. Apparently, a certain percentage of patients start to notice a fat reduction change at this point in the game. I don’t think I’m in that percent. Maybe my tummy appears slightly flatter, but it could just seem that way since the inflammation made everything so swollen and puffy for a while. I’m really hoping that I start to notice more of a difference in the next month.
Week Six: It’s Happening!
I have my follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks, and I’m feeling pretty good about my results so far. I can definitely tell that my stomach looks like it has flattened out a bit in the treated area. That stubborn little bulge that was annoying me anytime I put on jeans or my yoga pants has decreased. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a night and day difference, but it’s one that I notice. My upper arms look a little better, too.
Week 8: Two Month Follow-Up Appointment
Today was my two month follow-up appointment. I was so nervous to go in because I knew I’d have to look at before-and-after images, and it’s never easy to confront some of your biggest insecurities. I went in and the women at Bodify were so kind, as always. I disrobed, and we got to taking pictures right away. Even though I could feel changes in the treated areas, I still worried that I had gained weight, gotten bigger, that it didn’t work, etc. — especially since I’d been indulging in treats over the holidays.
However, when they brought me in to look at the side-by-side images they’d taken, I was truly impressed with the difference. From the front view of my stomach, there wasn’t a huge shift, but there was a noticeable one where I was treated. The side view, however, was the most dramatic. If it weren’t for the fact that I was wearing the same bra and that my back curvature was the same, it honestly looked like it could have been a different person. I’m sure that working out consistently to build muscle underneath helped the look of my results, but to see such a change in two months was incredibly motivating.
As for my upper arms — which I’ve always been so self-conscious about — there were some subtle changes where they were treated, as well. I have these stubborn little pockets of fat that jiggle and make my upper arms appear wide when pressed against my side. There was noticeable slimming, and a definitive (though small) decrease in the treated fat pockets. I’m curious to see what two more months and continued exercise will do!
Week 12: More Improvements Abound
Now that the holidays are officially over and all those cookies are gone, I feel like I can focus more on diet in addition to exercise. I’ll often stop and check out my treated areas in the mirror, and I cannot deny the slight differences. Again, it’s not a huge change and probably only noticeable to me, but my tummy appears flatter, my upper arms are less wobbly, and I just like how my clothes look on me.
Week 16: Final Follow-Up Appointment
Today, I went into Bodify for my second and final follow-up appointment. I had those same feelings of nervousness, but disrobed with confidence and got my pictures taken. The localized reduction of treated fat in my abdomen and upper arms was very noticeable when looking at before-and-after images — to the point that I was shocked! It’s so hard to see how dramatic the change is until it’s right in front of you.
Even the Bodify staff were really pumped about my results, which proved that they were visible. That said, they made it clear to me that my body was beautiful before I ever started the CoolSculpting process, which I truly appreciated. I was never made to feel like I was correcting “problems.”
Despite the initial discomfort of the treatment, which really didn’t last long in retrospect, I would totally recommend CoolSculpting to anyone who is a candidate and has stubborn areas of fat that regular diet and exercise isn’t addressing. I’m 100 percent glad I had it done — and I’d happily go back for more.
Complimentary treatment was provided to the author, which became the basis of this article.
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 doctor 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.