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Blog: I froze my fat and this is what I think of it

The weight loss industry is a big one, whose worth is expected to hit US$206.4 billion in 2019. There are the newly-coined exercise and diet brands – pilox, barre, paleo, acai – for health and fitness buffs craving variety and hoping to chance upon more effective methods to reach their goals. Then there are machines that some claim are able to burn, melt, dilute, or even freeze fat away without you even putting on your running shoes.

CoolSculpting fat-freezing technology by Zeltiq. Photo by Zeltiq.

So when I was given an opportunity to freeze my fat with CoolSculpting, I jumped at it. It might sound like a magic pill that dodgy beauty salons use to dupe customers into parting with thousands of dollars but this is not so. Not only has US$80 million been spent over 15 years on clinical studies and research before commercialising the technology, CoolSculpting has been tested on over 4000 patients and validated in over 60 scientific publications.

Approved by the United States Food & Drugs Administration (FDA), CoolSculpting is a non-invasive and clinically proven procedure to selectively reduce stubborn fat using a patented cooling technology. During a treatment, a non-invasive applicator is placed on the selected area, targeting the underlying fat while leaving the skin surface and surrounding tissues unaffected. When fat cells are exposed to extreme cold, they die naturally through a process called apoptosis. The dead cells are removed through the body’s lymphatic system which reduces the thickness of the fat layer.

According to Dr Calvin Chan from Calvin Chan Aesthetic & Laser I make a good candidate for CoolSculpting because:

  1. I am within/ near the acceptable weight range for my height and have pockets of fat that seem resistant to a healthy diet and exercise. (I am a size 2-4 for designer brands such as Diane Von Fursterburg and Carolina Herrera.)

  2. I exercise regularly — cardio and resistance training at least three times a week — and mostly for the post-workout serotonin boost. I also walk on average 2.5km every other day; that’s a round trip from my apartment to my gym or satellite shopping centre and back again.

  3. I strive to have a healthful diet which I consume in small portions and have dessert only once or twice every week or so.

When I was asked which area of my body I would like to target, immediately my belly came to mind. I am lucky in that when I put on weight it distributes itself evenly all over my body. However, my belly appears to capture more fat than other parts of my body; this is probably genetic too since I have had this little pouch since I was six years old and even my skinny middle sister has it.

Dr Calvin Chan is approachable and friendly. He showed me his pot belly to make me feel more comfortable about showing mine.

At Dr Calvin Chan’s practice at Wheelock Place, after revealing my pouch to the good doctor during the consultation, I was then led to a room by his clinic assistant Susanti Toh. I was told to remove my clothes, put on a bathrobe and straddle something that looked like a sundial. For the next few minutes, using the “sundial” as a guide on where to place my feet, I let the camera capture my belly fat in all its 360-degree glory. With a non-permanent marker, two areas were then marked for treatment; an oval was drawn on the left side of my belly and another on the right side; the two overlapping under my navel.

I was then put on the treatment bed. Susanti then placed a cold sheet on the right side of my belly and the applicator was then placed on top of it. My fat was then gently sucked into the applicator. It hurt for a few minutes in the way that your belly would hurt if a giant bulldog clip were to be put on it. But the area went numb very quickly as the freezing process set in. Susanti made me very comfortable. She put a pillow on the small of my back and on my lap so that I could check my emails (wifi complimentary of the clinic) which I did for a while. Then I dozed off and was dead to the world until 35 minutes lapsed and the applicator was moved to the other side.

That is what the applicator looks like when applied to the skin. No, that is not me in the photo. Photo by Zeltiq.

And dead to the world I was when Susanti came in to remove the applicator, which did not hurt, and massage the area that had just been treated, which did. She said the 10-minute massage was necessary to facilitate the breakdown of fat. A cold sheet was put on the left side of my belly and the process was repeated.

For the next few days I did not look or feel any differently, until the fifth day, when I started developing pins and needles in my belly. Most times it was a little annoying but bearable and at times it felt like there was glass in my belly; I was awakened once at 5am by a sudden onslaught of prickliness. I was given some painkillers to help with the discomfort but was told not to take them as the inflammation which caused the pins and needles were necessary for the dead fat cells to be expunged from the body. The discomfort went on for about a week for me (might vary from person to person).

I maintained my exercise and diet regimen afterwards. I was told to allow a few months for the effects to properly materialise before embarking on a second session.

A few months after my second session, my body’s side profile looked slimmer; the peak of the belly bump had gone down significantly and my clothes do not feel as snug around the belly as before. When I compared my before and after photos (of the 360-degree view of my belly), there was a significant difference in the area below my navel, before and after the treatment. I am looking to do my flanks next!

Note: This treatment is not for those who are looking to lose large amounts of weight; those who are overweight are recommended to lose the excess weight through diet and exercise before embarking on CoolSculpting treatments. As CoolSculpting permanently eliminates fat cells in the treated areas, patients who maintain a balanced diet and regular exercise can expect results from the procedures to be long-lasting and durable. Additional treatments in the same or surrounding areas can help enhance the desired aesthetic effect.

CoolSculpting treatments cost $500 per area per session at Dr Calvin Chan Aesthetic & Laser Clinic. Tel: 6732 4981

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