Tired of killing it in the gym and getting nowhere? I get it — totally. Being a long-distance runner and a healthy food eater with a low BMI (if you believe in that stuff), nothing sucks more than looking down at my belly folding over my undies when I sit down. So not sexy!
I've done liposuction in the past — that double chin had to go! I'm not willing to do it again, though, especially for something no one sees but me and my wonderful husband, who obviously overlooks it. So, what's a girl to do?
There is some body fat that is almost impossible to get rid of, no matter what you do or how old you are.
Take my double chin, for example, which was handed down in our family from one generation to another like Wedgwood china. It didn't matter how much weight I lost, it never budged. While I was somewhat used to the comments throughout my life, the last one (in 2003) was the final straw. I was having my wedding gown fitted, and the seamstress was complaining I had lost weight between fittings but "too bad you still have a fat neck!" I wanted to just walk out, but my wedding was in a week, so I cried to my sister instead. She knew exactly how I felt — she had one, too.
Later that year, I made an appointment with a well-known surgeon to have my double chin removed via liposuction. I was ecstatic with the results. It was finally gone!
By my mid 40s, I started getting a perimenopausal tummy. While I thought about it a few times, the risks and complications for having it removed with liposuction would have been much higher than that for my double chin. It also seemed a bit frivolous — no one really saw it but me.
Unwilling to do nothing, I took advantage of the non-invasive fat shrinking treatments at the med spa where I worked. (I love the perks of my job!!)
Using our radio-frequency equipment — specifically, VelaShape and Accent XL — I could keep my "issue" in check by shrinking my fat cells, as long as I maintained my healthy lifestyle and weight. While I enjoyed the results of both treatments, the VelaShape has a suction/rolling/heating feeling to it, and sometimes I'd be left with a small bruise. The Accent XL, on the other hand, is warm and gentle as it glides across the skin. Both procedures are considered temporary, as they don't actually destroy the fat cells, but this was the non-invasive route I was looking for, and I very pleased with the results.
Around that time, a neighboring surgeon had just purchased a CoolSculpting machine and offered me a free treatment. New on the scene, with promises of actually destroying the fat cells and still being non-invasive, CoolSculpting was about to make its mark as the only FDA-approved cryolipolysis treatment in the U.S. Unfortunately, Cryolipolysis — a fancy term for freezing fat cells to death — received a couple negative reviews citing possible nerve damage. Whether true or false, the rumor was out there, so I gave the free treatment to my girlfriend and went along for moral support.
As the tech placed a paddle-looking device on her stomach, it slowly sucked her belly into the CoolSculpting applicator, where it remained for about an hour. "Cold, tingly and with a snug grip" is how my friend described it as we chatted during her treatment. Once the tech removed the paddle, my girlfriend's tummy sat there looking like a frozen pound of butter!! This was completely different from anything we had ever seen, and it was downright gross! But then once the area was gently massaged and warmed, her tummy "melted" back into place — thank goodness!
CoolSculpting doesn't offer instant gratification like radio frequency. You don't jump off the table and admire your tightened abs or thighs. Instead, you're sent home to wait a few weeks until the frozen cells are broken down by your body. Since my friend is already built like a supermodel, it was difficult to see a noticeable difference, but she was thankful for the treatment just the same.
A couple of years after CoolSculpting's debut, UltraShape made it to the United States. Utilizing ultrasound, UltraShape would damage fat cells in a targeted area, which were then moved through the lymphatic system to the liver. The liver would break down the waste just like it would food. It sounded simple enough, but would it work?
Parent company Syneron Candela placed only a few of the newly FDA-approved devices in key clinics around the country for its initial launch. I was lucky enough to be working at one of those clinics and couldn't wait to be trained — and treated!
The treatments are virtually painless, with most taking up to an hour. I was able to have three treatments for my stubborn tummy and saw reasonable results — yay! That being said, I still had to maintain my healthy lifestyle (even though the fat cells in that area had been destroyed) since neighboring fat cells would increase in size if given the chance. And increase they did, eight months later when my mother underwent brain surgery. Living on vending machine and hospital cafeteria food (shouldn't hospitals only have healthy choices?), carbs were my solace while coffee and diet soda were my energy.
It's taken me four months to get that stubborn tummy back under control — and those neighboring fat cells back in their own yard! Having returned to my "normal" weight, I can honestly say the results from the UltraShape treatments still exist.
Looking back, I ask myself if I would have these treatments all over again? Yes, I would. I'm aware that with anything there is a risk, and frankly, I'm more afraid of falling on an icy sidewalk than I am of non-invasive fat removal. But that's me, and it's what I do. I'm a fat-melting, skin-tightening, wrinkle-removing expert — and love every minute of it!
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