ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Imagine a non-surgical fat reduction procedure that costs a fraction of what most treatments cost, is permanent, and tackles those tough spots like love handles and belly fat. It exists!
Kathy Korb, 53, hired a personal trainer earlier this year. She works out three times a week, but despite dropping 13 pounds and eating healthier, one area of Kathy's body stays the same. "I'm having a real difficult time getting rid of the belly fat," she says. "It's not going away. You have that bulge there and nothing is happening."
Kathy will make it happen by turning to a cosmetic procedure called Cool Sculpting, the FDA's first fat reduction technology.
Dermatologist Alexandria Kongsiri of Visage Dermatology says, "Cool Sculpting is a non-invasive way of permanently removing fat cells from the treatment area. We freeze the fat cells to the point that they die."
First, Kongsiri maps out the area to be treated. She then places a gel pack on Kathy's upper abdomen to protect her skin from freezing temperatures. Kathy says the gel pack feels cold and wet.
The applicator comes next. "The applicator goes on the area, has a very strong suction," says Kongsiri. "Feels like a vacuum sucking it up, slowly freezing it. It's not that bad."
Once the applicator is placed, Kongsiri tells Kathy, "You can relax and take nap."
Within 10 minutes, the cooling action makes the area numb for the hour-long treatment. While Kathy reads, Cool Sculpting goes to work. Full results are seen in 90 days; that's long enough for the body to eliminate the dead fat cells.
"You can expect up to about 25 percent fat loss in that area," Kongsiri tells Kathy.
Before and after pictures show a slimming effect in both women and men, and Kongsiri says results are permanent. Kongsiri has pictures of a patient who had Cool Sculpting done to his love handles on one side, gained 20 pounds, and the side treated remained smaller because there were fewer fat cells.
Kongsiri says, "I always tell my patients this is not a means for weight loss. If you've been working out and are having a very hard time with very resistant fat pockets, it's pinchable, you can usually treat that area."
Unlike liposuction, Kongsiri says with Cool Scuplting there's no anesthesia, no surgery, no long lasting side effects such as bruising or hardening of the skin, and no downtime. She says, "You can go back to the gym, back to the office."
Kathy's treatment is done and the suction is released. "Oh, my gosh, it does look like a red stick of butter," she laughs.
As the skin is massaged and warmed, the swelling goes down. "It'll feel numb for the next two days," Kongsiri tells Kathy.
"Definitely worth it, every bit of it. NNow I'm anticipating a flatter stomach. I'm excited," says Kathy.
Kathy kept a video diary the first week. She says her symptoms range from numbness in the treated area to a pins and needles sensation, but after a week she says normal sensation returned.
Before offering the Cool Sculpting at her practice, Kongsiri tried the procedure herself on her abdomen and it worked. She admits it worked so well she's used it four times. Will she repeat the procedure? "Yes, I would like to," she says.
Kathy may go back for another round of cool sculpting. She says, "You want to feel good about yourself than I think you should do what you need to do to feel good about yourself."
Cool Sculpting is more affordable than many surgical procedures, costing about $600 per cycle or application. Love handles would require two applications, one on each side. The cost would be $1,200. The procedure can be repeated after 90 days.