CoolSculpting™. It sounds too good to be true. As someone who has struggled with “trouble spots” my whole life, I’ve kind of come to realize that the only real solution is to eat right, exercise, and just know that even then you’re still going to have those stubborn areas that just refuse to lose. I’m a girl who’s never going to be skinny, and after years of trying to compare my body to my skinnier counterparts, I’ve finally realized that I just need to rock what I’ve got. That being said, when I learned about the amazing benefits of CoolSculpting ™, I was definitely intrigued. Freeze away your fat?! Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever?! Where do I sign?? I’ve had the pleasure of working for Dr. Melinda Haws and Dr. Mary Gingrass at the Plastic Surgery Center of Nashville for seven years now, and every day I see women and men come in here and find themselves again. Seeing our patients rediscover their real selves is one of the best parts of our jobs here at the Plastic Surgery Center of Nashville, and I think today might be the beginning of my very own rediscovery!!  🙂

 

What Exactly is CoolSculpting™?

CoolSculpting™ is a non-surgical body contouring treatment that freezes the fat in the treated areas and eliminates it for good. You typically do an initial treatment and then have a second treatment 30 days later. It’s actually FDA approved for fat reduction, and once that fat is gone, it’s gone for good. Most patients typically start to see results around 3 weeks after their first treatment, though that can vary from person to person depending on your body’s natural metabolic cycle. The optimal results, you know…the kind that make you want to just show your BEFORE and AFTER pictures to everyone you meet, are typically seen around 3-4 months after your first treatment. It is worth mentioning that CoolSculpting™ is NOT a weight loss procedure. Most patients do see some weight loss, as is to be expected with fat reduction, but it is not for those who are looking to come in and freeze away 50lbs. The best way to find out if you are a candidate for CoolSculpting™ is to schedule a consultation with either Dr. Melinda Haws, Dr. Mary Gingrass, or Sarah Hoots, our CoolSculpting™ Team Leader. They will be very honest with you about what can be done and what your expectations should be.

 

Evaluation -Tuesday, July 29

This morning I was evaluated by Dr. Mary Gingrass and Sarah. They started by asking me which areas bothered me the most, and like most women, my stomach was the lucky winner. The thought of standing in front of two beautiful women as they pinch and evaluate your fatty areas might sound like the stuff of nightmares, but honestly Dr. Gingrass’ excitement was so contagious that after a while I felt nothing but elation. Dr. Gingrass and Sarah decided to do the larger Cool Max™ clamp on my lower abdomen area, the smaller Cool Curve™ clamp on my obliques, and the Cool Curve™ clamp on my lats (the back fat area just under your bra straps, for those of us who aren’t from the medical field). We took the oh so wonderful BEFORE pictures of all of my soon-to-be treated areas and headed to the CoolSculpt™ room.

 

Treatment – Tuesday, July 29

Dr. Gingrass and Sarah decided to treat my lower abdominal area first. Each area that you do is a one hour long cycle, (though if you do your thigh area those are actually two hours per cycle) so we had a full day ahead of us. They started by placing a thin, gel pad over the lower abdominal area, where the Cool Max™ clamp will be placed. Dr. Gingrass and Sarah explained to me that this is used to protect your skin from being damaged by the freezing treatment. They placed the Cool Max™ clamp over the area and smiled as they told me it was time. 3-2-1, suction!! As soon as the CoolSculpt™ machine was turned on, the Cool Max™ clamp pulled my skin and fat up into the clamp very quickly. This wasn’t exactly painful, though I did feel some mild discomfort for the first 5-10 minutes. It feels like someone is pinching you really hard, and though you kind of really want it to stop, rest assured that after those first few minutes that feeling does goes away and you can spend the next 50 minutes enjoying whatever book you’re reading, music you’re listening to, or take a little mid-day cat nap if you wish. I do want to mention that the level of discomfort you feel during those first few minutes while the cycle is getting started can vary depending on your pain tolerance and the area that you are treating. I’m someone who can handle pain well enough, but some of my co-workers, who also had the privilege of getting to try out the CoolSculpt™ machine, thought it was a little more painful than I did. Just to show a fair assessment of what everyone really thought about the discomfort, I decided to poll the girls in our office to see what they thought about the uncomfortableness of the clamp.

This is what they had to say:

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being no pain at all, 10 being extremely painful)

Melissa            (flank area):                                          1

Sonya              (upper abdomen):                             2

Carlene            (lower abdomen)                             4

Carlene            (upper abdomen)                            6

Sarah               (lower abdomen)                               4

Me!                  (lower abdomen)                                2

Me!                  (obliques)                                                 3

Me!                  (lats, upper back area)                     1     

 

When the hour was up, Sarah came in to remove the Cool Max™ clamp and start the post-treatment two minute massage. Listen ladies and gents, don’t let the word massage get you excited here, this isn’t the kind of massage that’s going to make you want to take a nap afterwards. When the clamp comes off the treated area, your skin is very cold and red, and the top of your skin is very numb. However, you’re not numb under the skin, and truthfully I thought the massage was the most uncomfortable part of the whole treatment. The massage feels like someone is kneading a deep bruise. It’s not excruciating, but I was definitely counting down the 120 seconds, ready for it to be over. The purpose of the massage is spread the frozen fat back out evenly among the treated area so you don’t have a weird clamp-like lump for the next few weeks. Sarah was very considerate of the fact that it was uncomfortable, and did her best to try to keep me comfortable while also still doing what needed to be done. Thank you Sarah!!

 

I used the same scale as we used above to see what everyone thought about the discomfort of the massage:

One a scale of 1-10 (1 being no pain at all, 10 being extremely painful)

Melissa            (flank area)                                          7

Sonya              (upper abdomen)                             8

Carlene            (lower abdomen)                            5

Carlene            (upper abdomen)                           5

Sarah               (lower abdomen)                              2

Me!                  (lower abdomen)                               5

Me!                  (obliques)                                                7

Me!                  (lats, upper back area)                    5

 

The next four hours followed suit as we did each side of my obliques and lats, and at the end of the day I was excited to see what the next few days held for me. The cool thing about CoolSculpting™ is that there is no downtime with this procedure. I was still able to do my usual four mile walk with my good friend that afternoon.

 

 The First Five Days Post-Treatment, July 30-Aug. 3:

The first few days after you have your CoolSculpting™ treatment are kind of difficult to put in to words. The best two words to describe this first week are sore and sensitive. Your skin on the treated areas is still very much numb on the top, but underneath you can feel the magic happening. My abdomen was sore, as if I had just completed an intense abdominal work out the day before. At times I would experience a very weird, tingling feeling that made me really want to scratch the treated areas. That’s kind of hard to do when your skin is numb though, so that could be frustrating at times.  Sometimes, instead of feeling a tingling sensation, it would feel more like a dull, pulsing pain. Fortunately this wasn’t constant, and was treated pretty easily with Ibuprofen for me, so it wasn’t too bothersome. All in all, the areas were just very sensitive. The most annoying thing for me was the swelling that came afterwards. I was so excited to be able to tell my friends and family about the opportunity I had been given, but was also a little shy about showing my treated areas because they were so swollen. It definitely didn’t look like I was getting skinnier, though Sarah and Dr. Melinda Haws (who had her CoolSculpting™ treatment done on June 23, 2014) both assured me that the swelling typically goes down in about 10 days.

 

Day 10, Thursday, August 7

Wow!! I woke up this morning and my swelling is all gone! Yay! I showed Sarah and some of the girls at our office my stomach and obliques and they were just as excited for me as I was for myself!! One of our patient coordinators, the lovely Carlene Shoulders, actually used the word tiny when she looked at my stomach. I never thought that adjective would be used to describe me, but today my friends, it was. J Keep in mind that what I’m seeing today is just the effects of the swelling going down. I won’t actually see the real results from my CoolSculpting™ treatment for another few weeks, but waking up feeling skinnier is never a bad thing.

The numbness is almost completely gone, and the pain and tingling sensations I was feeling the first week are quickly diminishing. I’m excited to see what the next few weeks hold for me. I’m doing my second treatment on Thursday, August 28, 2014, so I’ll be taking my first set of AFTER pictures that day and am excited to see the results in just four weeks’ time. I’ll keep you all posted!!

 

Wednesday, August 27th & Thursday, August 28th

I can’t believe it’s already been 30 days since I did my first treatment! I can already tell a difference in the way my clothes are fitting me and I’ve had several friends and family ask me what I’ve been doing because they can tell my tummy is getting smaller. Yay!

I did my second round of cycles on two separate days this time (strictly for scheduling purposes). I did my tummy first and have to say that the post-cycle massages were a totally different experience for me this time around. The skin on my lower abdomen area was still numb from my first session back in July, so when Sarah administered the massage after the CoolMax™ cycle on my lower abdomen, I actually didn’t feel a thing! I was definitely not looking forward to the massage portion of the cycle and was so (pleasantly) surprised that I couldn’t feel it.

Sarah used the CoolCurve™ cycle once again on my obliques, though for my second session, she actually moved the CoolCurve™ clamp a little higher up on my obliques. She explained that she wanted to change the area up just a little bit to achieve a more even contour for my final results and that it would better sculpt my abdomen. Sculpted abdomen?! ME?? Yes please! The massage after both cycles on my obliques was also quite different from my first treatment. Turns out I am very ticklish on my abdominal area and was giggling the whole time. Sorry Sarah!

 

Thursday, September 4th

I have to say, everything with this second CoolSculpting™ session has been a vastly different experience this time around. I have still had some swelling, but I don’t think I’m nearly as swollen as I was after my first session. I mentioned this to Dr. Gingrass one afternoon and she said that it was probably because my stomach has debulked over the past 30 days and there just isn’t as much to swell this time around. I’ve also observed that the pain is much less noticeable. I have still had some of the pulsing pain in my abdominal area that I felt after my first session, but only for a day or two, and not as constant as it was last time.

Now that I’m done with my two CoolSculpting™ sessions, I’m looking forward to seeing more changes in my body. I should see the optimal results around 60 days after my second session, which will be around the end of October. I’ll try to get some BEFORE and AFTER pictures posted soon, and keep you all updated on my progress!!

-Elise