Home > Bitching, Disturbing, Skepticism, Surgery, Weight Loss, Worry > The Time I Tried to Talk My Friend Out of Madness

The Time I Tried to Talk My Friend Out of Madness

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

This is another title that could apply to many, many times in my life.

But today, it applies to my friend Daniella. She is trying to get fat frozen off her body.

The process is known as “Coolsculpt,” by the company Zeltiq. It claims to permanently destroy fat cells by freezing them, but will leave other tissues unharmed. The website says that fat cells do not typically develop during adulthood, and so destroying the cells will reduce the amount of fat permanently. The entire procedure takes about an hour, and is non-invasive. The idea is that the frozen fat cells die, and their contents are slowly absorbed back into your body. With this methodology, patients shouldn’t lose any weight after completing the procedure, but should instead just see the fat “disappear,” though I would imagine this reabsorbed fat would reappear elsewhere on the body.

The procedure was FDA approved for fat reduction in September 2010, and was previously approved for cooling the skin. Reviews online vacillate between patients raving about the procedure to ones deriding the whole thing as a scam. Anecdotal evidence is rampant, but an online search for peer-reviewed articles has brought up little to nothing. Dr. Oz is a fan of Coolsculpting, though in the words of my doctor/nurse parents, he is “a hack.” Many medical professionals see him as nothing more than a shill who frequently gives inaccurate advice. I’ve been looking at lots of before-and-after photos of patients, and any changes seem to be extremely modest at best. $800+ to pay per fat section is lot for a change only you might notice. Sample sizes of clinical trials are very small, and none track results beyond a year. The long-term effects are currently unknown.

Results don’t appear for 2-4 months, and patients are cautioned to maintain a healthy diet and exercise in the interim. Is any reduction of flab due to the diet, or to the frozen fat cells? Correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, and I can’t help but be skeptical about this whole procedure. Though it can only be performed by dermatologists or plastic surgeons, dollar signs can erase the misgivings of many a doctor.

My friend Daniella found that all doctors she called in NYC charged a consultation fee of $250-500 that is not waived, even if you elect to undergo the treatment. She finally found one willing to forgo the fee, but only if she decided to have treatment the very same day.

Daniella has green eyes, brunette hair, and model looks. She is 5’5″, 27 years old, and only 106 pounds, which gives her a BMI of 17.6. This is decidedly below the BMI threshhold of 18.5 for being underweight. Even at my lightest, my BMI was 18.6, and people often commented on how sickly thin I looked.

My point is, Daniella is not fat. In fact, she has no fat to lose, and an attempt to freeze her skin and bone on her “love handles” for $1500 or so is going to be a waste of money. Will it hurt her? Hopefully not, except for some probable bruising and soreness 2-3 weeks after the procedure. But I predict little to no change in her physique, which is good since there is NOTHING TO LOSE anyway!

In my completely non-professional opinion, the jury is still out on Coolsculpting. The technology is still very new, and with few clinical trials, long-term results are far from guaranteed. I think the money for this procedure would be better spent on a gym membership and some healthy cooking lessons. Ah, but that wouldn’t be the American way, now would it? Why work to lose weight when you can laser, freeze, medicate, or vibrate it into submission? Let’s all just get Shake Weights and call it a day.

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