Love muffins, but hate your muffin top? Help is at hand with the latest cool treatment to freeze your flab. Fiona Adams froze on your behalf
February looms and the New Year’s resolutions to get fit and lose weight are already beginning to droop. Iron-clad will is the preserve of the few, while the rest of us try really hard for a week, before sliding slothlike back to the sofa and that bargain box of house red from the supermarket (Ah, you too).
If you are sticking at it, however, and still seeing no obvious results, it can be nothing short of depressing – and if there’s one thing we do not need on top of all that self-denial, it is a full-blown case of winter blues.
Last November, to head off my inevitable January panic, I decided to boost my chances of success by trying CoolSculpting, a permanent fat removal treatment ideal for tackling those stubborn pockets that exercise and diet so often fail to banish.
You can have the treatment in a number of areas – basically anywhere you can squidge a good wedge of flesh, including your inner thighs, back, belly and flanks. I plumped (sorry) for the latter two options, though I confess that prior to my appointment I had thought that only horses had flanks…
CoolSculpting is a cryolipolysis treatment. It uses extreme cold to freeze fat cells to a temperature that destroys them. One then metabolises and naturally excretes the dead cells over the next two to three months. The cells are permanently removed and the body manufactures no more on the treated area (the ones retained expand and contract depending on weight gained or lost). Typically, the treatment will remove 25-30% of fat cells.
The CoolSculpting machine was invented in the US, where it is approved by the Department of Health and Human Services. As you can imagine, it has proved massively popular across the pond and has been used hundreds of thousands of times. Here it is fairly new (though much copied) and, as a medical treatment, is only available in doctor-led clinics. I went to Light Touch in Guildford, into the expert hands of Dr Natalie Blakely.
After a consultation about what I wanted to lose and where, I was photographed and the offending areas distinguished with permanent marker. I’d agreed to three, hour-long sessions: one for each flank, to improve my silhouette, and one for my tummy.
The treatment itself involves the application of a cold gel patch, to protect your skin from frostbite, and then the suction applicator. This is rather like a very cold Hoover, which sucks up spare flab and stays in place for an hour. For the first 10 minutes, it feels as if you’re being pinched very hard, but then numbness sets in and there is virtually no sensation.
At the end of the session, the applicator is removed to leave a solid (yes, solid) bar of flesh, like a pat of butter. This is then massaged back to normal. I had three sessions on one day, though it is usually recommended that you have one at a time.
CoolSculpting purports to require no downtime, but in the days after my treatment there were moments of agony, though they didn’t disrupt my routine. Dr Natalie had warned me of possible bruising, swelling, redness, numbness and, definitely, soreness – all of which I had.
The bruising on my sides went down within about five days. I had no bruising on my stomach, but I experienced swelling for about a week and there were times when I felt as if a small animal were trapped inside me, trying to dig its way out with a knitting needle. The clinic kept in touch, however, to reassure me that what I was experiencing was normal.
Two months on and, despite the intervening festivities, my stomach is a lot flatter and my flanks (horse fanciers, take note) seem more streamlined. It took about five weeks to see any difference, but it is now very obvious (to me, at least).
In the first few days after my appointment, wild horses would not have dragged me back. Yet now the discomfort is a distant memory.
CoolSculpting is not for drastic weight loss; results are small and incremental and only you may notice. But then, you are the only one who really counts.
Do’s and don’ts
• Make sure you are having a CoolSculpting treatment and not a copy-cat that claims to freeze your fat. There are countless horror stories of frostbite from unapproved machines
• Take a book or kindle to keep you occupied and take your mind off the sensation
• Wear loose, comfy clothing
• Take the next day off work if you’re having your tummy treated
• Invest in a pair of Bridget Jones party pants to support your tender belly (you will thank me later)
• Attempt to drink hot (or any kind of) drinks while in a supine position. I choked on mine and, with the CoolSculpting machine clamped to my belly, saw my life flash before me
• Expect to feel fighting fit the next day; there will be tenderness and discomfort
• Be too impatient. It takes about five days for bruising or swelling to recede and results will be visible only after four or five weeks
CoolSculpting costs £800 per area. Light Touch Clinic, Guildford. Tel: (01483) 568013 or visit: lighttouchclinic.co.uk