The brand new year is the perfect time to finally get rid of excess baggage with CoolSculpting, especially when the sedentary past months have resulted in unsightly bulges or you have been working out to absolutely no avail.
Fat freezing may sound like a complicated, time-consuming and painful procedure until you actually try it. And by it, we mean the current treatment of choice, CoolSculpting by Allergan. While it has always been touted as a non-invasive, non-surgical and needle-free alternative to liposuction, the idea that fat cells can be killed via a machine may still deter some people as a rather startling concept.
The fact is, it is as simple as lying down for a whole afternoon. Pain level is honestly low. My minor reservations about this popular procedure quickly dissipated during the first cycle of the treatment at Dr Kevin Chua Medical & Aesthetics. My goal is to trim down my jiggly arms and rediscover my waistline, which had expanded inordinately since the Circuit Breaker.
To be sure, CoolSculpting is not a weight loss treatment but a fat reduction one that can contour and shape the body. My weight is healthy and I exercise regularly, but I am a good candidate because the stubborn pockets of fat remained despite exercising twice to three times weekly. I admit, I only do moderate cardio workouts and zero weight or core training.
Dr Chua first measures and marks out parts of my tummy and arms using a series of acrylic measuring plates, and after a short photography session, I am good to go. Thanks to the fact that the clinic has two CoolSculpting machines, I am able to achieve more during one visit. Each machine has one suction applicator, so with two machines, I can have two applicators on me at once, essentially halving my treatment time.
After wiping down the area to be treated and smoothing a wet gel sheet over it, the nurse places the suction applicator over the marked out segment. I have six segments marked out on my tummy, and four on the underside of my upper arms. During each cycle, there is a mild and very tolerable freezing discomfort (much like holding an ice cube to your skin) within the first five to 10 minutes, after which numbness sets in and you’d probably reach for your phone to pass the time. Each segment will only be treated for one cycle, and a full cycle runs for 35 to 45 minutes.
Upon the conclusion of each cycle, the nurse rubs out the segment that resembles a block of butter. It is probably only during these two minutes of vigorous massage (to help break down the dead fat cells) that you’d feel some tenderness and pain. The cycle repeats for me numerous times until all 10 segments are treated, and I leave nearly four hours later. I depart the clinic quite sore but feeling amazed that it is so easy and non-traumatic.
The recovery is the phase that is trickier, but since we are right in the middle of a pandemic, it’s actually the perfect time to attempt such treatments. My belly and arms feel swollen, tender and spongey over the next three days. After that, as the swelling begins to resolve, I experience random and sudden short bursts of tingliness, zapping pain and itching due to the regeneration of nerve endings. I am told to self-massage for five days post-treatment, which is hard due to the tenderness, but a battery-operated scalp massager does the trick nicely.
There are also very faint bruise marks and reddish striations that disappeared by around Day 6. At this point, bouncing or jiggling would hurt. By Day 7, I can suck in my stomach fully without pain, and on Day 12, I can play tennis again. There are also small lumps that come and go.
You can apparently achieve 20 to 25 per cent of fat reduction in the treated areas after your body naturally eliminates the dead fat cells in around one to three months. For me, two months post-treatment is when I start to see the results. My waist dropped half a size, while my arms look slimmer. There are actually depressions on the flabby part of my arms that follow the contours of the suction applicator– the fatty mass there is essentially gone!
It is unbelievable to me that fat freezing, or cryolipolysis, can be achieved so quickly and without fuss. The result is supposed to be long-term if you keep up a healthy diet and disciplined exercise regimen. I learn that the number of fat cells is set during childhood and adolescence, and varies little during adulthood. And Coolsculpting is FDA-cleared to eliminate unwanted fat in these areas: under the chin, flanks, abdomen, outer thighs, inner thighs, above the knees, the bra fat section right over the shoulder blades, upper arms, and underneath the buttocks.
If you’re somewhat a fitness warrior and still struggling with stubborn fat, or need to cut that bulge pronto for an important event, what are you waiting for?
Dr Kevin Chua Medical & Aesthetics, #03-05 International Building, 360 Orchard Road, Singapore 238869, +65 6694 6700.
(All images: Dr Kevin Chua Medical & Aesthetics)