What Is CoolSculpting And Does Fat Freezing Actually Work?
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What Is CoolSculpting And Does Fat Freezing Actually Work?

Apr 05, 2023

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Body contouring, but make it freezing.

One of the few ‘body contouring’ treatments that has stood the test of time, CoolSculpting is a non-surgical, non-invasive (e.g. no scalpels, no needles, no breaking of the skin) medical treatment that targets stubborn pockets of fat on the body. So effective is the treatment that ye olde procedures for fat removal, such as liposuction, are barely spoken of anymore.

In under an hour, with barely any pain (for most people), you could sculpt your waist, skim inches off of your thighs, or rid yourself of a double-chin. For Cosmetic Cosmetic Doctor Dr Sophie Shotter, it's one of the best treatments for tackling unwanted excess fat. ‘You can achieve beautiful reductions in fat pockets and a more sculpted shape’ she says, ‘and there's minimal - if any - downtimes, for permanent results.’

It sounds almost too good to be true, so how exactly does this 'fat freezing' work?

Dr Galyna Selezneva, a cosmetic doctor and body contouring expert (if there's a new machine, she's heard of it. If it's a good machine, she's tried it), explains: ‘The machine uses technology known as cryolipolysis: controlled cooling applied safely onto the area you want treated that causes underlying fat to freeze and be destroyed.’

The best way Dr Selezneva described it to us is to think of your fat cells as grapes or raisins (bear with us here…). You don't create or multiply them to gain fat, they just get plumper (grapes). With CoolSculpting, the freezing process kills the targeted cells, so the cell can't become plump anymore and deflates (raisin). Therefore, the fat in the area treated by CoolSculpting is lessened and will reduce in size (raisin!).

Our bodies naturally eliminate the frozen dead fat cells, ‘basically, you pee it out’ says Selezneva. The results are permanent as your body cannot restore the killed/broken fat cells.

Depending on the area being treated and your pain threshold, CoolSculpting is really comfortable but with a few peaks of ouchyness. The machine (sort of like a hoover), with a specifically-sized nozzle attached to it depending on the area is strapped to you, and the fat is slightly sucked up into it.

It then starts the freezing process, which can feel a bit weird and throbbing, but shouldn't be painful. You’ll be attached for around 30-45 minutes, and more than one nozzle can be attached at once (one to each leg, for example).

When the area is frozen it goes numb, however it then needs to ‘defrost’ again. When ELLE Beauty Editor Jennifer George tried the treatment (on a stubborn pocket of fat on her lower abdomen) this is where the brief but potent pain occurred. Feeling like the nerves are waking up again, there was a strong, almost stinging sensation, like an ice burn. However, this only lasted for about 15 seconds, and the doctor used clever distraction methods (cold towels on the shins to deflect the pain receptors) to make it more bearable. No pain no gain people.

Post-procedure, the area might feel tender for a few days like it's bruised. Comfy trousers instead of tight jeans are recommended!

Some other ‘fat busting’ treatments claim to melt, laser or massage fat away. CoolSculpting is one of the only ones that permanently destroys the affected cells.

The area that CoolSculpting is most often used for is the stomach. Both Dr Shotter and Dr Selezneva have the lower abdomen requested the most, closely followed by the pesky double-chin. It's great for areas that you find even the strictest of diet and exercise regimes can't shift, and that muscle tone can't reach through. The arms, love-handles and flanks are also popular.

‘Sometimes you can spend hours sweating in the gym and weeks dieting and you still can't get rid of that resistant pillow on your tummy’ says Galyna. ‘With CoolSculpting, you can get rid of it whilst scrolling on your phone, in less that an hour, with barely any downtime and minimal risk to your health!’

Post-treatment, you could see changes after about three weeks, with full results showing at around three months. For ELLE Beauty Editor, Jennifer George, she noticed her jeans suddenly zipping up more easily and skirts sitting lower within three months. 12 months later, her stomach remains flatter than it ever was pre-Coolsculpting.

One point to remember is that even though the affected fat cells are permanently destroyed, others in the surrounding areas won't be. So if your diet and exercise is shoddy, don't be surprised if your jeans stop fitting again, as those other cells (near the frozen area or even hidden behind it) expand.

Firstly, CoolSculpting is pricey, more of an ‘investment’ treatment for sure (prices with Dr Shotter start from £550, with Dr Selezneva from £895). Expensive for a spontaneous treat, aesthetic doctors often see patients working the procedure price into wedding budgets, to help fit into the dream dress.

Also it's important to note that, due to the fact that your body reacts unpredictably, the results when treating symmetrical areas (such as the inner thighs, arms or love-handles) can sometimes end up… unsymmetrical. ‘It's an art form and if done badly can lead to uneven results’ warns Dr Shotter, who recommends doing thorough research into your practitioner and their expertise before signing up.

However, with over 5 million people treated with CoolSculpting worldwide, it's an almost unbeatable procedure for body contouring, especially when you take into account the pain factor (minimal) and downtime (even more so).

But no aesthetic treatment is without it's risks: ‘There are of course possible side effects’ says Galyna, ‘like bruising, soreness. Some can be more serious, like lumps, burning or numbness. Hence why it is CRUCIAL to go to a reputable clinic and see a medical doctor… choose wisely!’

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