Aesthetic Treatments

I Got My Fat Frozen Twice — Here’s Why I’m Glad I Went Back

By Garrett Munce
Man wearing yellow jeans

Stocksy United / Nemanja Glumac

In 2011, I started seeing enticing new subway ads touting a new FDA-cleared fat-eliminating treatment called CoolSculpting®. Beyond the words “FDA-cleared” and “fat eliminating,” I barely knew anything about it — but that didn’t stop me from immediately booking an appointment to try it. After all, it sounded too good to be true. And if you’d asked me after that 2011 treatment, I’d say it was.

Despite my initial lackluster (and cold!) experience, I tried CoolSculpting again with different practitioners in 2018 — and I’m glad I did. The technology has changed a lot. Now CoolSculpting can treat additional areas of the body. Keep reading for the evolution of the treatment (including updates and targeted areas) and for my results.

Then: The Appointment

My knowledge of the procedure barely extended beyond the brief explanation I received before my appointment. I knew I would have a device — that was not unlike a frigid shop vacuum — attached to my love handles, and I would have to lie still for an hour on each side. During the treatment, the tool would cause the fat cells under my skin to freeze, then be flushed out of my body through my own natural elimination system. I was told I would see results in about three months.

Soon, I was lying face-down on a table as a technician covered one of my flanks with a huge, gooey sticker. This protected my skin from the blast of cold as she attached a rectangular suction cup to my body. The cup was part of a long tentacle leading to a groaning machine. She left the room and told me she’d be back in an hour to swap sides. Luckily, I had been told to bring a book.

Then: The Results

After the two-hour session, they wiped the goo off my body and I went home. My love handles had a pins-and-needles sensation for a few hours (and then went numb for several days) but otherwise, I resumed a normal life. I waited patiently for my fat to disappear. It didn’t — not even after three months.

Now: The Consultation

Even though CoolSculpting didn’t work well for me the first time, I still found myself in a consultation with Laura Dyer, MSHS, PA-C, physician’s assistant at Dr. Amy Weschler’s dermatology practice in NYC, talking about going through the process again after having tried it seven years ago. That’s because the technology has come a long way in those seven years. 

“CoolSculpting has now been FDA-cleared to treat nine different fat reduction zones,” says Dyer, meaning that you can now tailor the sucking attachments to specific areas of the body. It’s not just for the love handles; you can also use it on the stomach, thighs, upper arms and even a double chin.

Does Coolsculpting work
Stocksy United / Nemanja Glumac

Featured model has not been treated with CoolSculpting.

Perhaps one of the most significant differences, though, is time commitment. That hour-long treatment has been reduced down to as little as thirty-five minutes per area. “The reason we shortened the time is that we actually went one degree colder [than before],” says Dyer. “So, it's a colder treatment, but we're still getting the right amount of energy extracted in a lesser period of time, which delivers the same results.”

It’s not just the technology that’s changed, either. When CoolSculpting first hit the market, the ideal candidate was someone who was extremely fit, who worked out on a regular basis and had small pockets of fat they were not able to get rid of by diet and exercise alone. I do not fall into this “super fit” category. (I am not overweight, but I have also belonged to a gym in my neighborhood for three years and have never once set foot inside.) This is a possible reason why my first round of fat freezing didn’t do much.

Luckily for me, and for most people, the procedure has evolved with the technology. CoolSculpting is still not a weight-loss treatment, but it is best for “someone who's at or around an ideal weight,” says Dyer. “They don't have to be that super fit or super thin, just someone who's able to maintain their weight.” Maintenance is key: “As long as you can maintain your weight, you can keep the results forever,” says Dyer.

With my t-shirt pulled up around my armpits, Dyer only had to give a quick glance to tell I was part of this “not super fit” category. “You’re a perfect candidate,” she declared, even after I admitted to my ice cream addiction. She then went to work, telling me how she would attack my bulging midsection. She decided to do three rounds with two attachments at once.

Does Coolsculpting Work?
Stocksy United / Nemanja Glumac

Featured model has not been treated with CoolSculpting.

That’s a total of six areas: both my love handles, the full span of my stomach and an angled area on each side, to attempt to bring out that coveted abdominal “V” shape. “We've realized the art of CoolSculpting is the whole sculpting part,” says Dyer. “Before, we were just de-bulking or taking down fat. Now, we're actually really helping bring out people's shapes.” If this can finally get me that “V,” then I decided I will do anything she tells me.

Now: The Appointments

I came back a week later for my first session. Dyer recommended two sessions for optimal results — another change from my previous experience with fat freezing. I was shown to a treatment room which consisted of a dentist-style chair flanked by two huge machines similar to the one I had seen before, but more modern-looking. I changed into a pair of paper culottes and climbed aboard. Dyer and her assistant affixed the same gel pads to my body, attached the two attachments the same way as before and, after supporting it with little pillows, left me with my laptop. Yes — instead of lying still like I had to during my previous treatment, I was able to get some work done during my appointment. 

The initial feeling under the attachments was not comfortable — like exposing a very specific part of your skin to a Minnesota blizzard — but it lasted about a minute before they went completely numb. I was even able to forget they were there.

Dyer came in after each session to remove the attachments, apply the gel pads to new places, and re-attach the machine. Immediately after removing them, she gave me a vigorous massage to help stimulate the blood flow back to the freezing area. This sensation was uncomfortable, like when you walk in from a blizzard and the blood rushes back to your frosty hands: prickly and hot.

Does Coolsculpting work?
Stocksy United / Nemanja Glumac

Featured model has not been treated with CoolSculpting.

Once my three rounds were done, and I left the office feeling only mildly stickier and colder, I went back to my normal life. Like I had after my previous experience, I had some numbness. I walked around the rest of the day feeling like I had an inner tube around my middle, the numbness wrapped around me like a cocoon. It continued for a couple of days and gradually went away, though I did experience some brief shots of numbness and a pins-and-needles-like sensation at odd times. (This was also normal.) I had no bruising or swelling, though some people do experience those side effects. 

The second session went down exactly the same as the first. The only difference was that I almost immediately fell asleep and snoozed through most of the treatment. What had previously been a highly productive morning turned out to be an expensive naptime.

Now: The Results

I’m now two months past my second treatment. Do I see a difference? Maybe. I resigned myself a long time ago to the fact that I’ll never have a six-pack, so my expectations are not so high. But I do feel different. My clothes fit slightly better; my pants feel looser and I’m a little more comfortable wearing a t-shirt. Perhaps the biggest difference is that I’m more aware of my body. Not only that, but I’m more aware of what I’m doing to my body. I don’t want to do anything to mess up the possibility of optimal results, so I’m more aware of what I eat. I can’t say I’ve visited my neighborhood gym yet, though — maybe I will after the third fat freezing appointment. 

Interested in learning more about CoolSculpting? Chat now with our trained aesthetic specialists, who can also help you find providers in your area.

CoolSculpting® Treatment Important Information

The CoolSculpting procedure is FDA-cleared for the treatment of visible fat bulges in the submental area, thigh, abdomen and flank, 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.

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 a submental area treatment. Rare side effects may also occur. 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. The CoolSculpting procedure is not a treatment for obesity. Ask your doctor if CoolSculpting is right for you. To learn more about what to expect, visit the CoolSculpting website.

Products may have been gifted to the author for the purpose of writing this article.

Laura Dyer is a paid Allergan consultant.

CoolSculpting is an Allergan-owned, non-invasive, fat reduction treatment.

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