Banish the Bulge

Not loving your love handles? CoolsculptingĀ® may be for you.

Banish Belly Fat With Cool Sculpting

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Back in post-baby shape except for the belly bulge? Feeling and looking fit, except for one or two spots that are out of contour no matter how much you diet and exercise? Cut out muffins, but still have the muffin top? Not loving your love handles? CoolSculpting® may be your solution.

CoolSculpting® is an innovative, non-surgical way to reduce fat by freezing fat cells so they die and are then naturally expelled from your body. The FDA approved this technology in 2010, according to manufacturer Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc., in Pleasanton, Calif. More than 70,000 treatment cycles were performed from 2005 to 2010 with no reports of long-term complications, Zeltiq says. Worldwide, more than 500,000 treatment cycles have been performed, the company says.

Patients like CoolSculpting® because there’s no scarring, no downtime and none of the risks of surgery, says plastic surgeon Dr. Ben Hugo in Virginia Beach. Hugo’s practice has performed more than 1,000 treatments since September 2010. Cost is $500–$750 per treated area; patients may need more than one area treated, Hugo says.

No needles or anesthesia are used. A non-invasive applicator draws the fat tissue into a vacuum cup and delivers controlled cooling for one hour using two cooling panels, the company says in a PowerPoint presentation. The procedure causes lipids inside the fat cells to crystallize, triggering cell death. Afterward, the body slowly eliminates these dead cells through the lymphatic system.

Each treatment lasts about an hour with relatively little discomfort, says Dr. Jonathan Jacobs of Associates in Plastic Surgery in Norfolk. So far, Associates in Plastic Surgery has treated 80 percent women, 20 percent men ages 22 to 62, Jacobs says.

“Men like the idea of avoiding surgery,” says Hugo, whose practice has treated men 10–20 percent of the time. “It’s also appealing to men because there’s no down time.”

Patients can go back to work, exercise and otherwise resume normal activity immediately, the company says.

The procedure is best suited for the belly bulge, hip bulge and the so-called bra roll in back, Hugo says. Patients with body mass indexes around 30 are usually good candidates, Jacobs says.

Many patients are women in their 30s who have given birth but can’t lose that stubborn past-partum fat bulge right under the belly button, Jacobs says.

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