Does getting your fat frozen off really work?

Cold woman in togs
Can the power of freezing cold really turn me into the size of this woman? Photo credit: Getty.

Stripped down to my underwear in front of a full-length mirror, having my fattiest parts noted down in the cold, hard light of day, I had to question the places this job has taken me.

In this case, it was the very lovely Prescription Skin Care clinic in Ponsonby, where I was being assessed for Coolsculpt - the latest and greatest in fat removal technology.

CoolSculpt, or cryolipolysis, is a cosmetic treatment to remove areas of body fat. It's done with a large, fat-freezing machine, which delivers controlled cooling to target fat cells under the skin. 

The treated fat cells are crystallised and die off, meaning the body processes the fat and excretes it as waste (take that mental image how you will).  Don't worry, it's not all in one hit - it happens gradually over the course of several months, leaving - hopefully - more sculpted, leaner limbs. 

It's part of the growing trend of non-invasive cosmetic procedures, for those who want results without going under the knife.

I've never been unhappy to the point of seeking out surgery but like many mid-twenties women, there are lots of little lumps and bumps on my body I wish weren't there, although I'm getting better at accepting them as I get older. 

But the idea of having my fat blasted away like a verruca? I have to admit, I was bloody tempted. 

Even a person with the most hardened self-esteem probably couldn't love the appraisal session, where Prescription Skin Care nurse Asia sized me up in front of a full-length mirror. 

"I'd do a round here, could go two rounds here, maybe a round on each of these," she noted dispassionately grabbing parts of body I thought were acceptable, if not Emily Ratajkowski-level aesthetically pleasing. 

In the end, Asia decided she could have done about 10 rounds on various parts of my body, if money was no object (and for many of her clients, it isn't). We eventually decided on arms - a problem area for me since I was about 18, and had the horrific realisation such previously innocuous places could be problem areas. 

Lying there in the comfortable bed, I was surprised at how much it was a pleasant place to spend an hour - far more so than surgery would be. Each course on my arms took about 45 minutes, and I took the opportunity to watch Netflix on my phone - Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2, if you're interested. (A sequel which holds up in my opinion.) 

Happy as a clam during the freezing process.
Happy as a clam during the freezing process. Photo credit: Newshub.

Now and then Asia popped her head in to check up on me, but mostly it was a chance to do nothing and relax, which as we all know, is worth every penny you pay for it. 

The CoolSculpt machine suctions to your fat like a little vacuum cleaner - there are smaller heads for small bits of fat (chin, arms) and big ones for bigger bits (tummy, thighs). It feels a bit cold, but it's definitely not painful - more like when you hold a bag of frozen peas to an injury. 

It must be noted though that non-invasive doesn't mean totally pain-free. The climax of the treatment was a massage where Asia vigorously rubbed my frozen fat to break up the cells and get them flowing out of my body nicely (or something like that). It was very painful - so much so I felt a bit sick - but it only lasted two minutes and she distracted me with some tactical conversation. 

And that's it! You're out the door and straight back to the office or home - something which makes it a far more favourable option than the long recovery time of surgery. I was back to my pilates class the next day.

There is some post-procedure discomfort; an ache along the underside of my arms persisted for about eight weeks, and was particularly sensitive if I was grabbed. Even a gentle hug from behind from my partner was met with a screech of "ow my arms!" for the first two months. 

But now, almost three months down the track there's no doubt the results are impressive. My arms are notably more streamlined, and far less inclined to flap against my body when I go for a run. 

If you're looking to cut down on those pesky areas that even the most hardened diet and exercise regime won't shift, I would highly recommend. The price is a little eye-watering - about NZ$1000 for each area - but no more so than surgery, and with far less time off work afterwards. 

If you see me out and about flashing my arms this summer, you'll know why!

Our lifestyle editor had a free session of CoolSculpt and a follow up treatment, courtesy of Prescription Skin Care. 



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