Each year, 45 million Americans — many of them women — are consumed with thoughts of muffin tops, love handles and other parts of their bodies, especially as the season for beach and bathing suits looms. Figures from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that $11 billion was spent on cosmetic procedures in 2012, accounting for 1.6 million procedures.
For those seeking to battle their perceived problems, a procedure called CoolSculpting is gaining prominence because it doesn’t require pills, exercise, needles or surgery.
“I really like this procedure,” said nationally known, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon Kimberley Goh from her office in Myrtle Beach. “It tells the cell it’s time to die. [The cells] go, and they don’t come back.”
The procedure is based on Cryolipolysis (a registered trademark) and was developed by Harvard University scientists Dieter Manstein M.D. and R. Rox Anderson M.D. They discovered that cooling the skin will kill fat cells without harming the skin or tissue surrounding them.
Five years ago, Goh contacted representatives of Zeltiq Aesthetics, which manufactures the apparatus for CoolSculpting. She was satisfied with what she learned and decided to become certified and purchase the needed equipment.
Zeltiq was founded in 2005, and its CoolSculpting procedure has become the most accepted, noninvasive body-contouring method. It has sold its equipment to medical practices in more than 60 countries and reports more than 1 million treatments have been performed worldwide, 427,000 alone in 2013.
Goh is an advocate of CoolSculpting and has been offering the procedure since 2011. She emphasized that it is a body-contouring treatment, not a weight-loss method.
“It’s noninvasive,” she said, explaining that the procedure is U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved.
Audrey Grice, licensed practical nurse for 23 years and licensed esthetician for almost six years, said the four physicians in Wilmington Plastic Surgery decided in 2011 that CoolSculpting would be part of their practice. They and Grice became certified, and she has performed 1,500 treatments.
“It’s for fat that won’t leave,” she said. “Every patient has had good results.”
She has had several treatments herself, some on her upper and lower abdomen and some on her flanks. “It’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s customizing to the person’s body type.”
She emphasized that it is not an appropriate treatment for the obese because it’s not a weight-loss plan. It is appropriate for those who eat well and exercise but have “jiggling fat.”
Goh said she has interested patients contact her office for a free consultation to determine if they qualify, what their goals are and what treatment plan to pursue. Most treatments are last one hour and involve a device being placed on the problem area. Excessive fat is drawn into the device and cooled to 34-degrees Fahrenheit.
“Twenty to 25 percent of the fat cells are gone forever [after one treatment],” Goh said. “The cells go on a hunger strike and die.”
Patients resume their schedules as soon as the treatment is over. They may experience some bruising and reddening, but no scarring results. Skin is not permanently affected, and freezing does not occur because the area is not cooled to the freezing point, 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The procedure has proved to be safe, and the same area can be treated several times until a patient reaches the desired result.
“A candidate has a localized collection of fat,” Goh said. “It doesn’t work well when fat is spread evenly. After the treatment, clothes fit better, but you don’t change size. You have a moderate change.”
The procedure does not tighten skin, produce a loss in weight or require anesthesia or surgery. It does remove fat, reduce bulges and save time.
The procedure works well around the waist, hips, abdomen and thighs. Goh said she won’t do the procedure on the neck, and few people would benefit from having it on the arm because it doesn’t tighten the skin. In her experience, about 50 percent of those who have a consultation do not qualify because they need to lose a large amount of weight, have a medical condition that eliminates them or have another situation that exempts them.
Possible candidates should ask themselves if they can “pinch an inch,” if they exercise and if they are in good general health.
Kimberly Cooper, certified CoolSculpting technician, surgical technician and certified nursing assistant in Goh’s practice, said she’s had the procedure on both flanks and on her upper abdomen.
“I am very happy with it because it’s nonsurgical,” she said, “and there’s no downtime. You can have it done and go back to work. It’s an easy way to get rid of some unwanted areas that diet and exercise don’t always get.”
At Facial Aesthetic Center in Myrtle Beach, a medical spa, licensed esthetician and office manager Catherine Pelton said she took the training and began performing the CoolSculpting procedure in January 2014.
“Patients love it,” Grice said. “They come back for more and more and more. They come for CoolSculpting because it is not uncomfortable. It’s easy and there’s no surgery.
“Results often improve a patient’s self-image. Surgery is a great option, but it’s not always the best option. [CoolSculpting] is another tool in the toolbox to get patients where they want to be.”
For more information
Learn more about CoolSculping at www.coolsculpting.com.