‘Fat freezing is the only FDA-cleared, non-surgical fat reduction treatment that uses controlled cooling to eliminate stubborn fat that resists all efforts through diet and exercise. The results of the fat freezing procedure are proven, noticeable, and lasting, so you’ll look great from every angle. CoolSculpting technology safely and effectively targets your fat cells underneath the skin. The treated fat cells are crystallised (frozen), then die.
You can reduce fat on different areas of your body with the CoolSculpting procedure in just one session, but further treatments may enhance your results. We will help you create an individualised treatment plan tailored just for you. Most people can typically return to normal activities immediately as the process is completely non-surgical. In the weeks and months to follow, your body naturally processes and eliminates the treated fat cells.’
The reason that none of the surrounding tissue or internal organs are affected when the fat is frozen—something that freaked me (slightly) and my mother (a lot) out—is that fat has a higher freezing point than water, so by controlling the temperature to this exact point the rest of the body remains unscathed.
CoolSculpting sounded like the perfect answer to the stubborn fat on my stomach that simply wouldn’t budge, however hard I’d been exercising or healthily (between restaurant reviews) I’d been eating. I suspect my reluctance to reduce my wine consumption had something to do with this—but hey, life’s too short for such drastic measures and if I could freeze the blubber off without sacrificing boozy pleasure, well, bring it on, I thought.
Before the procedure I had to have a consultation to see if I was a good CoolSculpting candidate (it’s not suitable if you’re seriously overweight, for example). Turns out that my wine gut was just crying out for a bit of spot reduction. First I had to stand in my knickers, with my arms above my head, for a series of ‘before’ photos, taken from different angles. I was not allowed to hold my tummy in for these, and never want to see them—let alone have them published here. Then, rather unnervingly, Kellie, the charming and reassuring therapist, grabbed chunks of belly and declared that I would need four hour-long treatments: left and right upper abdomen, left and right lower.
I approached D-Day with more than a little trepidation, as I’d been Googling CoolSculpting and reports on pain—both during and after—varied considerably. Kellie, however, put me at ease and assured me it would all be fine, as she drew lines on my tummy in marker pen.
My lower stomach was treated first—one side followed by the other. The fat was sucked into a machine attached to a tube that looked a bit like a hoover, which was a weird sensation, but not particularly unpleasant. I could feel it getting much, much colder for about a minute, then everything went numb and I could lie back and read for an hour. During this time, Kellie waited on me hand and foot, bringing me sandwiches and hot drinks, even finding a charger for my laptop.
Afterwards, my ice-cold flesh (which felt like a slab of frozen butter) was massaged back to life, to ensure there were no lumps or bumps. This was pretty uncomfortable, but I told myself it was only for two minutes and tried to think happy thoughts that may or may not have involved wine.
My upper abdomen was a different story. Ouch, that suction did hurt, and the massage was at the painful end of the uncomfortable spectrum, though thankfully the usual numbness set in for each of the hour-long cooling durations.
Afterwards, my now distended belly was strapped up (I’d been told to expect swelling), and I struggled into the Spanx I’d been assured were the best way to speed up recovery and make the next couple of weeks more comfortable—along with high doses of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen, and antihistamine (Piriton) to ease itching.
My stomach was sore and bloated for around four days, until it started itching and churning, a sign of the nerve endings coming back to life. I’d been warned about this, and also that a minority of people experience quite severe pain four or five days afterwards (it varies, with most only reporting minor discomfort). Sadly I was one of the unlucky ones, with throbbing soreness—especially around my belly button (where the four separate vacuums had converged). It only lasted a day or so and I kept it at bay with super-strength painkillers, before returning to bloated and tender for another couple of weeks, after which it was an enormous relief to take the Spanx off!
By week three, the swelling started to subside and I could see a new, leaner me underneath. By week six, my tummy was the flattest I’ve ever seen it, my belly button had shrunk (sounds weird, but looks good) and the effects of years of core work at the gym were at long last visible, having previously been shrouded under that layer of stubborn fat. Around this time, flashing my belly became my new party trick—‘Look how flat it is! Feel it!’—until I realised it wasn’t winning me any friends.
A couple of months on, I’m still thrilled with my new, streamlined midsection. Yes, it hurt more than I’d bargained for, but worth it for a trim, toned tummy (yup, I’m that vain and shallow). I’d do it again in a flash, and can’t wait for my next beach holiday, for which I’ll be packing a selection of new bikinis—no sarong required.