My First Time: Does CoolSculpting Really Work?
- Written By:Anjali Kumar
In her column for Just Bobbi, author, advisor and attorney Anjali Kumar is willing to try anything in the name of wellness (at least once).
"Yes. It totally works."
This was the unequivocal conclusion of one of my most knowledgeable friends on all things worth knowing over cocktails two years ago. We were discussing her recent experience with CoolSculpting which uses controlled cooling to target and kill fat cells which your body then naturally processes and eliminates (translation: it freezes your fat cells and then you pee it out over the course of several months). It was something she had quietly done as a present to herself for a big birthday. She looked even better than usual and good friend that she was, she was letting me in on her secret.
"Really? Come on. Don't I just need to exercise and eat better?" I asked while tucking into another french fry from her plate and holding a glass of red wine.
"Possibly. But this will take care of the part that no amount of crunches or kale will. Trust me. It hurts like &$^#% but it totally works. Try it."
So you could say I'd been "CoolSculpting Curious" for a few years. But honestly, I kept thinking this was a ridiculous shortcut to be contemplating when really what I needed to do was get my lazy butt to the gym on a regular basis and cut back on some of my more problematic food choices (I'm talking to you Levain chocolate chip cookies and The Odeon french fries). And also, I'm a bit conflicted because I love my body just the way it is and am grateful for the jiggly bits. They are a sign of a life well lived if you ask me.
But could I benefit from a bit of tightening up of said jiggly bits? Well, probably. Admittedly, my vanity sometimes hits right up against my self love mantras of "Who cares about the jiggly bits!? Leave them be! Let them jiggle freely!"
And this is how I found myself wading through racks of gorgeous and very expensive clothes at Saks Fifth Avenue in their now defunct downtown location to Skinney Medspa for a CoolSculpting appointment last winter. I'd been working out (somewhat irregularly) for a couple of months and with another birthday quickly approaching, I decided to find out what the fuss was about.
I was greeted by Zasha who was doing my procedure. After a quick explanation of how it worked, I changed into a pair of paper shorts and a paper bra top that I couldn’t quite figure out the mechanics of (it just slings over your shoulders like a normal bra in case you’re wondering) and Zasha took a few “before” photos and weighed me in. I am not sure why we did a weigh in as Zasha later explained that the procedure doesn't result in weight loss, although often people do lose weight after based on exercise and dietary changes (I flashbacked to my friend’s comment as I took another fry off her plate: “You can’t CoolSculpt your way out of a bad diet.” Noted.)
Zasha brought in the CoolSculpting machine which looked like a giant computer from an 80s rom-com movie with a long tube leading to a VR headset. This contraption is not an actual VR headset of course, but it is the thing that will be suctioned onto parts of my body to freeze fat cells over a 35 minute period.
Zasha put some gel and a protective sheet that looks like a face sheet mask on the targeted areas ("to protect your skin from freezer burn") and we got started. The “not a VR headset” was placed over the targeted areas (my belly) and I felt strong suction and a frightful cold. Imagine your belly got caught as you rolled up your car window driving down a ski mountain in the middle of a winter storm. I don't know when this scenario might play out in real life, but if it did, I suspect it would feel similar to CoolSculpting. It doesn't hurt per se, but you are left thinking "Maybe I should pull my belly out of this rolled up car window".
But within a few minutes the discomfort passed and I didn’t feel much of anything. I spent the next 30 minutes catching up on Netflix shows (giving a whole new meaning to “Netflix and Chill”, sorry I couldn’t help myself) when Zasha came by to check on me and move the “not a VR headset” to the other side of my abdomen where we repeated the whole process. She did a light massage for a few minutes after each section was finished and I was done. I felt a little numb in the treated areas for a day or two after, but nothing more than that.
But then I had to wait four to 12 weeks.
The results? Honestly, kind of amazing. It wasn’t dramatic (likely because I hadn’t been all that diligent about working out or eating particularly well during the months leading up to the procedure, nor in the months that followed), but my clothes definitely fit better and a few friends even asked “Have you been working out more?” (No). Since the number on the scale hadn’t gone down at all (like Zasha said, this isn’t a weight loss thing), I could only conclude that CoolSculpting was the reason.
When I went in for a follow up appointment a few months later, I was surprised to see photographic evidence of the results. It was undeniable that I had lost a touch of belly where the CoolSculpting “not a VR headset” had once been.
So now, I just have to cut down on the french fries.
The Verdict: If you are in pretty good shape and have some stubborn areas you can’t get rid of with exercise, you will likely be happy with the results from CoolSculpting. If you are like me and not the most disciplined gym goer to begin with, you may not see dramatic results, but it still helps your jeans fit better.
Skinney Medspa, 125 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10003