Just picture it: you’ve been aggressively working out for over a year, putting in serious time and dedication at the gym — only to find that a few areas of your body just refuse to change. This is exactly what happened to me. Regardless of how often I trained or what fitness classes I tried, I just couldn’t slim down my abdomen and upper arms. So, last autumn, I decided to try out a round of CoolSculpting® on my abdomen and upper arms.
[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.]
This wasn’t a decision I made on a whim: I was familiar with the treatment from doing research for SpotlyteTM stories, and I’d been intrigued by the before and after images I’d seen. I thought I could be a possible candidate, so I went in for a consultation. From that point to the treatment itself and my four-month post-treatment results, I can honestly say that my experience was a 10/10, and I’d gladly get CoolSculpting again.
If you’re contemplating trying CoolSculpting, and your doctor considers you an optimal candidate (someone who has an “inch to pinch”), then I say go for it! All that said, there are some things I wish I would have known — or, at the very least, understood better — beforehand. For example, I didn’t realize that to target my lower stomach, I’d need to get my entire abdomen treated. I also didn’t realize that I should bring a book to my appointment, because it’s not an in-and-out process. Keep reading to learn from my experience, so you can have a more seamless CoolSculpting session yourself.
Find a Provider That’s Right for You
I’m never one to skimp on research before making a big commitment to something like a major aesthetic treatment. That said, I didn’t spend much time on figuring out where to go.
It turns out I was fortunate enough to find myself at a renowned location for CoolSculpting, Phoenix’s Bodify®. During my consultation (which was also part journalism interview, given the nature of my job), I learned that there are cases where poor technique is used, which can result in uneven fat reduction and unimpressive results. Moreover, the initial consultation is an important part of the treatment — that’s where your treatment plan is put together and it’s important you find someone you’re comfortable with. Moral of the story: go to a location that has loads of positive reviews to back up their claims. Chat with Spotlyte’s team of trained aesthetic specialists — they can help you find a licensed fat-freezing provider near you.
You May Need More Applicators Than You Think
The cost of your CoolSculpting treatment ultimately depends on how many applicators are required during your appointment. For example, if you’re treating the area under your chin, you may only need one small applicator since the area itself is very small. When you start talking about larger areas, though, such as your abdomen and thighs, you need larger applicators — and usually more of them.
This was in line with my experience: I only wanted to treat my lower belly pooch, but my provider informed me that we’d also need to do the upper abdomen in order to prevent uneven results. This hearkens back to my previous point, which is to make sure you’re going to a provider who knows the CoolSculpting game inside and out. Is it more expensive to get more treatments? Yes, but it’s ultimately worth it if you’re committed to getting optimal results.
Bring a Book, Because It’s Not an In-and-Out Process
You can get other aesthetic treatments on your lunch break, but CoolSculpting takes some time. Depending on which (and how many) areas you treat, you could be sitting there for up to two hours with not much to do. Most facilities provide a TV or magazines to help take your mind off the chilly treatment, but feel free to bring your current favorite novel or laptop if you’d rather stay busy that way.
There’s a Lot of Massaging Involved Afterward
CoolSculpting studies have shown that by massaging the treated area afterwards, your results may be more notable. The theory is that it helps break up more of the treated fat cells.
After the CoolSculpting techs remove the applicators, they’ll massage the area immediately afterward. This can be pretty uncomfortable for some patients, and a handful say that it’s the least pleasant part of the whole experience.
The Post-Treatment Deep Itch is Real
Speaking of discomfort . . . I wish someone had told me just how itchy the treated areas could become. After about 24 hours, an intense, deep, impossible-to-reach itching sensation started to set in, and I was not expecting it at all. As it turns out, this is a completely normal side effect of CoolSculpting, and occurs because the nerves in the treated areas are reacting to the treatment. It does go away as your body recovers and your treated fat cells die, though. For me, the itching came and went in waves, but disappeared after about two weeks.
It Can Affect Your Digestive Tract
If you get CoolSculpting on your abdomen, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll experience some digestion-related issues for the first few days. This is normal, too! That includes tummy gurgling throughout the day and more frequent bathroom breaks (if you catch my drift). Talk with your primary healthcare provider if you’re concerned about your indigestion.
You’ll Experience Volume Loss, Not Weight Loss
This point is key: Many people incorrectly think of CoolSculpting as a weight loss treatment, but it’s simply intended to sculpt the area and get rid of unwanted, stubborn fat that exercise and diet just couldn’t. With my treatment, I went in for my follow-up consultation (and to have after images taken) after two months had elapsed. Though I’d technically gained about a pound — possibly due to all the Christmas cookies I’d eaten between appointments — the areas we treated had notably decreased in size. Again, CoolSculpting isn’t about weight, but rather, just about fat.
It Takes a While to See Results
We live in a world of instant gratification, but CoolSculpting isn’t one of those aesthetic treatments that delivers on command. It works by freezing treated fat cells until they die — called apoptosis — and it takes up to six months or more for your body to process all those dead cells. I am told that I had very good results after one treatment, and was even able to see a notable difference just looking in the mirror after three to four months. Some people, however, need multiple treatments to see a significant difference in the area. Plus, the results can be so gradual that patients don’t realize how much volume loss they’ve had until they see before and after images. Still, some things are truly worth waiting for — and I can attest to that.
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.