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EV reviews… CoolSculpting, celebrity endorsed fat reduction

This FDA-approved aesthetic procedure claims a reduction in fat of up to 25 per cent after just one treatment. How does it work and is it safe?

I’ve always been curious about CoolSculpting, as most of the feedback I’ve heard has been very positive.
CoolSculpting, for those who aren't familiar with the treatment, is FDA-approved, endorsed by many A-listers and the most popular brand of non invasive fat reduction technology on the market today.

Using a process called cryolipolysis or fat freezing, it freezes and kills fat cells with no downtime involved – and studies have shown that it works. It is effective at reducing fat, some people only need one treatment and results are permanent, as long as you maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.  

Your clinician can choose from a range of applicator sizes depending on the area to be treated – larger applicators can be used to reduce fat, with smaller ones employed for use under the chin or contouring further down the line.

You can look to achieve a 20-25 per cent reduction after a single treatment – according to RealSelf which reports a 'worth it' rating of 73 per cent, inner thigh treatments have the highest satisfaction levels, while abdominal area results were least impressive.

I’ve always been a steady weight and have never dieted in my life, but following a hormonal issue a few years ago, my upper body filled out and despite maintaining a BMI of 23, I’ve not been able to shift the added inches gathering around my bra strap and on the backs of my upper arms.

When it comes to a procedure such as CoolSculpting, it's vital to consult with an expert and not risk dodgy DIY methods such as ice packs or cubes; I headed to body contouring specialists Light Touch Clinic in Surrey to try it for myself.

After a thorough consultation, photographs were taken from a number of angles for the fairly standard before and after comparisons. It was then decided that my upper arms and back/bra 'chub' would be suitable areas to treat.

Each area takes 35 minutes plus a two minute massage, so in my case the total treatment time was around 2.5 hours for four cycles/applicators, excluding consultation time.

Senior aesthetician Sammy began by drawing on my skin – this is to help her place the applicator in the correct area. She then laid a protective gel pad on the area before applying the applicator which attached comfortably onto the skin, sucking in the fat.

Applicator placement, size and orientation is critical to avoid 'drop off' – an area which shows where the applicator was placed and the fat removed. There is also some aesthetic sculpting required which your clinician should have an eye for.

As your skin and tissue lowers to a temperature of -10C, the first 10 minutes feels quite cold and uncomfortable, but then the area goes numb and these sensations subside. You can watch TV or work, however you need to keep the treated area as still as possible so the applicator doesn’t ‘pop off.’

The worst part by far is the last 40 or so seconds of the vigorous two minute massage performed after each cycle, which is pretty painful as your skin warms back up to its core temperature, but thankfully short lived. This is done to help kick-start your body’s natural process of excreting the dead skin cells, and can help improve fat volume reduction tenfold.

Sammy advised firing up the lymphatic system by marching on the spot for a couple of minutes a day for two weeks; this helps with the elimination of fat cells from the body. I also tried to increase my activity levels and work out a bit more than normal. Drinking plenty of water is also a good idea.

Tip: Make sure you go to the toilet before your treatment, as I literally had to run to the bathroom at the end of mine.

Who does CoolSculpting best suit?

CoolSculpting is not a weight loss solution and won't give you the dramatic results of liposuction, therefore it’s best for people with a BMI of less than 25, and who are within 20 pounds of their ideal weight. Ideal candidates may be fit and active but struggle with resistant fat pockets that won’t shift through diet and exercise alone. You'll need to have pinchable fat for the applicator to be able to ‘suck’ onto your skin like a vacuum.

How many sessions are required?

This depends on the amount of fat to be treated and the desired results – one treatment can be enough to see a 20-25 per cent reduction in fat. If you decide on another round, it's recommended that you schedule an appointment within 60 days. With each subsequent treatment, you’ll get a further reduction in fat.

What do I need to do after the treatment?

Recovery varies from person to person, but you’ll be able to carry on with your day as normal. Your skin will almost certainly be red after your treatment, while bruising, swelling, tenderness, numbness, tingling, cramping and itchiness may also be experienced. Sammy warned me I might feel tender or achy for a while afterwards, but I seemed to get off lightly with some light bruising on my arms only, which lasted just under a week. I also had some minor loss of feeling/numbness on the underside of my arms for a few weeks.

Are there any risks?

We want to emphasise that no aesthetic treatment or medical procedure is without risk. You may have seen recent headlines reporting that a former supermodel had been left unrecognisable by CoolSculpting. Cryolipolysis does carry a small, little-known risk called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), which is an increase in fatty tissue at the treatment site caused by fat cells reacting to extreme cold. This is a rare side effect (it’s believed the rate of incidence is 0.0051 per cent out of the 1.5million CoolSculpting procedures performed across the globe) that seems to affect more men than women, and which can be corrected. The CoolSculpting website reads, "Rare side effects may also occur. CoolSculpting and CoolSculpting Elite may cause a visible enlargement in the treated area, which may develop 2 to 5 months after treatment and requires surgical intervention for correction."

When will I see results?

Results are not immediate because the fat has to be metabolised and then eliminated by the body; the rate this happens varies from person to person. Sammy advised that I might start seeing results around the three-week mark; I didn't notice much difference until week five. At my follow up appointment seven weeks post treatment I noticed that my arms were definitely looking more like they used to; Sammy agreed and took some more pictures in order to compare. Results are permanent as fat cells removed are permanently gone – but only if you control your weight. If you gain weight, fat cells that remain in the treated areas will expand; you could also develop contour irregularities.  

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