Sculpt a ‘Cool’ New You

Is there really a painless, effective way to lose fat? We give a new non-invasive fat-loss procedure a test drive
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It’s the most common complaint I hear from my over-40-year-old female friends: “I work out, watch what I eat and still I can’t get rid of this muffin top.” That “muffin top” — also known as the pooch, spare tire or love handles — is the extra stomach, hip and back fat around the belly button that hangs over the top of the waistband. Many women are obsessed with getting rid of this stubborn and unwelcome layer of blubber.

Surgery is an option, but for those who want a less invasive solution, Aqua Medical Spa at Gulf Coast Dermatology, headquartered in Panama City with new medical spas in Niceville, Santa Rosa Beach, Tallahassee, Dothan and Jacksonville, offers a “cool” alternative*.

CoolSculpting, or Cryolipolysis, made by Zeltiq, is a non-invasive procedure targeting fat in specific areas of the body — mostly the upper or lower abdomen, the back and love handles — using a special cooling technique, that doesn’t damage neighboring tissues. Gradually, the fat cells are naturally flushed out of the body over a two to four month period. There is no surgery or anesthesia, and no needles or cuts. There is no down time, you can even go back to work or exercise the same day as the procedure. There’s no need for pain medication afterward.

 Photo By (After Shot of Wendy Dixon)

Dr. Jon Ward, medical director for Aqua Medical Spa, says CoolSculpting is a fat-loss procedure that results in an average of 25 percent reduction of fat. The ideal candidates are those who are in good physical shape, but just can’t get rid of unwanted fat. “(This procedure) is for someone within 20 pounds of their ideal body weight with loose, pinch-able pockets of fat that don’t respond to diet and exercise,” he says. “This is not a weight-loss solution, nor does it achieve the results one could expect from large-volume liposuction, but it is the best solution for permanent fat reduction.” The medical spa offers a free consultation for prospective clients.

Being an ideal candidate, I gave it a try. The procedure begins by placing an applicator cup to the area of fat, then using gentle vacuum pressure to draw the bulge up between two cooling panels. When Aqua Medical Spa’s Harmony Church, P.A., first applies the applicator, I feel an uncomfortable pulling sensation. It nearly takes my breath away, but the medical spa’s Ginger Francis tells me to relax and breathe, and soon the feeling goes away as my lower abdomen becomes numb from the cold.

Francis starts the timer on the device, counting down from one hour. In my private room with the lights dimmed, I read a book, flip channels on the TV and watch that timer count down to zero minutes (which seems to take forever when I’ve got a vacuum on me). The staff at the spa makes sure I’m as comfortable as possible, so the procedure is quite tolerable. After the hour is up, Francis removes the suction, revealing my red, swollen belly. She smoothes the lump on my abdomen that resembles a cold stick of butter, then I am able to leave. I feel tenderness and a numbing sensation in the area for several days afterward. By week five, I notice a flatter belly (even after a night of pizza — thrilling!). By week eight, I’m ecstatic with the results — a stomach pooch I’d worked for years to take off but never could, is now flat.

 The Upside:
It’s non-invasive, requiring no surgery
It targets specific areas of the body that don’t respond to diet and exercise
There is no recovery time
There is little pain or discomfort
There is no neighboring tissue damage

The Downside:
There may be some soreness, redness or bruising in the area for a few days

The Cost:
$600–$1,200, depending on the area of the body being treated. Usually one treatment is sufficient, thought additional procedures may be done if a patient wants to have further fat reduction.