CoolSculpting: A Patient Perspective
by Mariah Althoff
About a year ago I remember reading an article in Cosmo about a girl who had CoolSculpting done because Khloe Kardashian had recently gotten it done, too. (Because what better reason does one need to freeze off their fat than following suit of a Kardashian, am I right?) The point is, she wrote all about her treatment so that readers could get an inside scoop on the procedure. Immediately, I was hooked and had to figure out where I could have this done too.
Once I realized that Premier Dermatology (already my favorite place in all of Bentonville) offered this treatment, it was a done deal. A few months ago I had the procedure done so that today I can also be the wannabe-Khloe, Cosmo journalist of the Premier Blog because I too am letting you in on all the juicy details of my CoolSculpting treatment – the good, the bad and the in-between. Now, you too can have a better picture of what this procedure is like and what you can expect if you choose to have the treatment done!
For those of you who don’t know, CoolSculpting is a revolutionary non-surgical body contouring treatment that freezes stubborn fat, which is then naturally eliminated from your body. No needles, no special diets, no supplements, no surgery, no scars and no downtime. It’s safe, FDA approved, effective, and does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Nine out of ten people have an undeniable reduction of fat after just one treatment.
Essentially it’s amazing and although there is real science behind it (which you can learn about here), I’m pretty sure it’s just magic.
Before we get into the details of my journey, you should know that this treatment seriously works. I lost 10 pounds and several inches without doing any extra dieting or exercise. Just a few weeks ago I had to buy new jeans because I went down an entire size. I’m realizing every day when I go through my closet that it’s time to get serious about replacing more of my clothes because they’re all too big on me! I literally stare at myself in the mirror every morning because I’m so excited by my results. Can you say HELLO bikini bod?!
The point is, if you’re stuck in a weight loss rut like I was, this is the perfect treatment for you. Sometimes the scariest thing about doing something new is not knowing what to expect. My goal today is to demystify this whole process so that you can make your complimentary CoolSculpting consultation today and confidently know what you’re getting yourself into.
My First Round of Treatment
I started my CoolScuplting journey with a consultation with Lindsey – a real CoolSculpting MVP, might I add. We began my appointment by first checking to make sure I was a good candidate – someone who is within 20 pounds of their ideal weight and needing to get rid of some trouble spots. I already knew I fit this bill because I had spent weeks looking at other's before and after pictures, but Lindsey reaffirmed that for me. I talked to her about the problem areas I wanted to be treated and she poked around at for a minute in order to assess my belly flab situation. We decided to treat both my lower abdomen (the area around my belly button) and my flanks (the fat on the sides of my waist) in order to get rid of all of my stubborn stomach fat that I can never seem to get rid of. She then talked me through the procedure making sure I knew exactly what to expect from the process and answered any questions I had. Just like that, I had my first CoolSculpting appointment scheduled and I was coming back in a few weeks!
In-between appointments I ate a huge Thanksgiving meal knowing full well that any fat I gained over the holiday was getting frozen right off a week later – (CoolSculpting might be the best way to follow every holiday, to be honest). I arrived at my first appointment far too excited, knowing that I was one step closer to getting back my hot college bod.
My appointment began with taking my “Before” photos so that we could keep track of the progress I’d make. Next, Lindsey did some measuring and marking on the areas of my torso I was getting treated, then set me up in the big comfy chair, where I arranged my laptop, phone, and water. Just like that, I was ready to go.
We started by treating the right side of my lower abdomen, which Lindsey first covered in a gooey, wet, cold sheet (think super goopy wet wipe) that covers the area that goes into the applicator. This protects the skin during the cooling process. With the goop in place, Lindsey took the applicator and gently put it against my abdomen, which swiftly sucked up my fat like a vacuum. I was really worried about the initial suction, but I actually found it happily underwhelming. In that moment, I thought to myself, “Hey! This isn’t so bad!”
That thought, however, passed just as quickly as it came once my belly started freezing.
I’m not going to lie, the first five minutes of the treatment sucked (literally – see what I did there?). As I’d been warned, it’s super cold and uncomfortable feeling. Lindsey set the timer, made sure I was as comfy as I could be (given my belly was being frozen off), set me up with my work then let me be, making sure I knew that she was only a button push away if I needed anything. The moment she left I thought to myself, “Holy crap Mariah, WHAT did you get yourself into?!” It was this same moment that I remembered that I’m usually a total wimp and that there was nooo way I was going to be able to sit in pain like that for a couple hours.
However, I’m here to tell you that after those first five minutes it gets SO much better. The freezing ends up numbing the area, the pain goes away and you begin to regain your cognitive thinking. Hallelujah!
The remaining time actually went by like very quickly. Between scrolling through Facebook and designing a powerpoint for work, it was like any other Wednesday morning. Lindsey came back with a few minutes left on the clock and just when I thought I was used to this whole CoolSculpting thing, I remembered the hard part wasn’t over.
Once the clock hit 0, she removed the applicator from my abdomen and pulled off the goopy sheet. Underneath it, the fat that had been sucked up was still in this strange, long block shape that mimicked the shape of the applicator. It seriously looked like a stick of butter was underneath my skin! I died laughing and made sure to snap a pic for my friends. The laughing, however, was also fleeting because Lindsey then had to massage out the stick of fat in order to break down the frozen fat cells (which would also increase my results). This part was definitely not fun, however, to me felt a lot like menstrual cramps, so it wasn't too bad. I was expecting it to hurt much worse, so cramping I was totally cool with.
I then repeated this same process on the left side of my abdomen, which was much easier now that I knew what to expect. After another round of freezing my fat while I worked, it was time to treat my flanks. Premier is extra amazing because they have not just one – but TWO fancy CoolSculpting machines. This meant that both of my flanks could be treated at the same time! This was way more convenient and meant it took half the amount of time that my abdomen did. Score!
Although the double suction was slightly less comfortable than doing one side at a time, it was well worth it because it only took half the time to treat! I was able to finish my work project while I sat there, and once the hour was up I was ready to get these things off of me and get this show on the road. Little did I know that massaging the block of fat on my flanks would be much more painful than my abdomen. No more were the icky cramping feelings – this time it was full-on tender pain. I did, however, make it through the two-minute massage and I was officially done for the day.
After the First Treatment
I will say that I was sorer than I thought I would be that evening. I definitely recommend wearing comfortable clothes, because my whole torso was pretty tender and swollen. Nonetheless, I was able to move around enough and drove myself home to Fayetteville without any problems.
Once I was home I went straight to the couch. It was pretty uncomfortable to move my torso that night, so laying down and not moving around much really helped (plus my boyfriend made me dinner while I caught up on New Girl, so it was a win-win). I also put a heating pad on my abdomen, which also helped make things more comfortable.
The next day I woke up doing much better. I was still careful not to make too big of movements because I was still pretty tender, but overall I could go about my day pretty normally. Lindsey had mentioned that patients often liked compression on the treated areas and I agreed. The weirdest part of the recovery period was that my belly fat felt a lot heavier like it weight a lot more as it hung off of my stomach. I have no idea why. It didn’t hurt but it felt super strange, so compressing the area did make this feeling way better. Needless to say, I stuck to wearing tighter tops for the next few days.
The tenderness only lasted about a week and got better and better each day. The only real side effects after the tenderness went away was numbness. However, the numbness fully went away within a few weeks and I was good as new!
Typically, CoolSculpting will take several weeks to see any progress and typically anywhere from four to six weeks to see full results. Even though I knew all of this right from the get-go, once the fourth week rolled around and I was convinced my body was all out of whack and I was going to be the one person that CoolSculpting didn’t work for.
I kept my fingers crossed though and literally in a blink of an eye, week 5 came around and my fat literally melted before my eyes!!
It was wild. I was so excited and could not wait to go back and show Lindsey the magic she had already worked! When I went back after the sixth week to get my second treatment, she too was thrilled to see my results. So thrilled, in fact, that she suggested we skip treating my flanks again because she was worried I wouldn’t even have a waist if we treated it a second time! I was EXTRA excited to hear this because that meant I didn’t have to sit there with my fat sucked up for as long as I anticipated. Woohoo!
We still treated my lower abdomen for a second time, and it was MUCH easier than the first time around. Not only did I fully know what to expect this time, but I also had no pain or discomfort after the treatment like I did the first time. Best. Day. Ever.
A month went by after this second round, and I was again convinced I wasn’t going to get any more results. I figured all of my good luck came and went after my first round treatment and that was all for me. This, by the way, is pretty uncommon because the majority of patients see the biggest change after their second round of treatments. Luckily, I was wrong (again) and lost even more!
I literally could not wait to go back to Premier for my after photos because I was so excited to see the progress I made! Ten pounds later and I’m feeling 100x more confident than I was just a few months ago. I’m seriously SO happy I went through with it. It’s not everyday you stick your belly fat into a freezing machine, but when you do, you won’t regret it!