Procedure claims to 'freeze' fat off body
HOUSTON Dr. Mandy Wilkinson keeps busy and in shape with a dental practice on the northwest side and long workouts at the park. But no matter how many miles this avid exerciser ran, there were still little pockets of fat she just couldn't get rid of. "After I had my son, which was really almost 11 years ago, I just had little areas around my abdomen that I just couldn't seem to, you know, reduce," Wilkinson said. With her workouts not giving her the results she wanted, she thought about liposuction surgery. "Because I was getting to the point where nothing else was working, and then Dr. Bruce said, 'Let's try this,'" she said. "This" was a new procedure called CoolSculpting. It uses extreme cold to actually kill fat cells. "So that fat layer will go down by 20 to 25 percent, which means the tummy, the love handles or the thigh -- whatever you're treating -- it's going to decrease by that amount," cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Suzanne Bruce said. The device is applied directly to the problem area. For Wilkinson, it's her stomach. "So the device is put on the tummy and there's an intense suction that pulls up the bulge into the device and then there's two cold plates, so that kind of bulge of skin is between these two cold plates," Dr. Bruce said. "It's a pretty intense sucking feeling," Wilkinson said. The whole thing takes an hour. Besides the cold, it's virtually pain-free. When the clock hits zero, the fat looks like this "frozen, almost like a stick of butter of frozen fat," Dr. Bruce said. "And now we're gonna kind of massage it and kind of smooth it down," she said. And in minutes, Wilkinson is up and walking around again. So how did it work? While we couldn't see much of a difference, Wilkinson was pleased. "My pants are looser. I just feel better. I mean it's not any kind of miraculous weight loss, but it's definitely a help and gets you going on the right path," Wilkinson said. Dr. Bruce says it typically takes three to four months to see best results. Also, the procedure is not cheap, about $1,400 for a larger area like the stomach and about $700 per side if you're doing a smaller area like love handles. Dr. Bruce says the procedure is not for those who're obese, pregnant or have a condition that makes them allergic to cold. And since it's cosmetic surgery, it's not covered by insurance.