What Exactly Is CoolSculpting, Anyway?
After Linda Evangelista says she was left "permanently deformed" by CoolSculpting, we take a closer look at what the fat-freezing procedure is all about.
This week, supermodel Linda Evangelista made waves on her Instagram when she announced she was suing a company named Zeltiq after a CoolSculpting procedure left her “brutally disfigured,” sending her into a cycle of depression and out of the public eye for more than five years. The non-surgical procedure is licensed to medical spas and dermatologists across Canada, as well as in over 74 other countries. While the fat-zapping treatment has been name-dropped by celebs in the past (Molly Sims, Khloe Kardashian and Deborah Messing have been open about using it), the very nature of the treatment being a body-slimming method means it’s usually discussed behind closed doors. The story has a lot of people wondering what is CoolSculpting to begin with.
So, what exactly does the CoolSculpting procedure entail? The treatments are designed to target stubborn fat cells that seem to want to stay put regardless of diet or exercise. Common places to target the treatment include abs, love handles, thighs, and even the chin. (As a rule of thumb, CoolSculpting is suggested more for body “contouring” rather than general weight loss.)
During the treatment, a cooling gel pad (which is very cold) is applied to an area of your body. At the same time, an applicator cup applied to the surface of your skin will suck up fatty tissue, creating a tugging and pinching sensation. The targeted fat literally becomes frozen, and will quickly feel numb—a feeling that can last for weeks to follow. In those weeks, your body is meant to process the now dead, frozen fat cells and eliminate them without any further effort, as if you had burned them off naturally.
The technology, also known as “cryolipolysis,” was invented in part by Richard Anderson, a Boston-based dermatologist who received his doctorate from a joint MIT-Harvard medical program. He also completed his dermatology residency at Harvard, where he later became a professor. CoolSculpting was approved by Health Canada in the early 2010s.
In general, treatments tend to start at around $750, but again, depend on how many areas and visits you’ll require in order to potentially attain the result you’re hoping for. If you’re looking to eliminate a considerable amount of fat, your practitioner will likely recommend several visits. With multiple treatment areas, the process claims to be able to reduce the number of fat cells by up to 27 percent after six months (stipulations obviously apply.)
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On her Instagram post, Evangelista speaks out about her painful personal experience, including alleging that she developed very serious side effects she was not made aware of prior to treatment, such as developing Paradoxial Adipose Hyperplasia (PAH). Reportedly, PAH is a highly rare but previously undisclosed potential side effect, which actually causes fat cells to expand, rather than be eliminated.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should always do as much research as possible when considering any procedure, non-invasive or not, and consult your physician.