What Does Fat Freezing Feel Like & Does It Actually Work?
Fat freezing is a beauty treatment gaining popularity in recent years and it’s getting increasingly affordable to try.
The process of fat freezing, or cryolipolysis, is a non-surgical alternative to liposuction. It involves a controlled cooling technique which crystallises fat cells and they die off. Fat freezing is not intended for weight loss, but rather to target pockets of fat that won’t budge no matter how much your weight might fluctuate. Another plus is that it’s much more affordable than liposuction. Fat freezing costs around $600 per area, while liposuction generally costs upwards of $3k to $5k per area.
It should be said that fat freezing is not for everyone and it is absolutely not something that anyone should feel pressured to do or try. Since it became a more mainstream beauty clinic technique, I’ve wanted to try it as someone who doesn’t want to lose weight but has areas (specifically the sides of my stomach) that I’d personally prefer to look more smoothed down. It’s an area that I’ve struggled with throughout my twenties, as despite the fact that my weight goes up and down constantly, this small area of fat doesn’t decrease in size.
As an insecurity I’ve had since puberty, I’ve researched techniques to target specific fat pockets for a few years. I can’t stomach anything too invasive, so laser liposuction and traditional liposuction were out of the question for me — as both procedures involve a cannula being inserted into your skin. I have a fear of needles/hospitals/pain/basically everything, so the idea of a non-surgical way to target fat appealed to me.
After scrolling through countless before/after photos for non-invasive treatments like ultrasonic cavitation, body contouring, and fat freezing, I found that the most impressive results came from the latter. And this year, I decided to finally try it.
At the beginning of 2020 (before the world turned upside down), I booked in at Body Catalyst in South Yarra in Melbourne to start the process. (Full disclosure: I trialled this treatment for review free of charge.)
Here’s everything you need to know…
So how does it actually work? Founder and CEO of Body Catalyst, Samantha Barakat Light, told us: “Cryolipolysis (fat freezing) uses a controlled cooling technology to target fat cells. With weight loss or weight gain, what happens is that our fat cells shrink and expand. With cryolipolysis, we are able to permanently eliminate 20-30% fat cells in the treated area by freezing the fat cells to the point of cell death, at which point, the body naturally eliminates the fat cells over the course of 10-12 weeks.”
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However, it’s not for everyone as cryolipolysis targets specific areas rather than overall weight. Barakat said the ideal candidate for the treatment is, “Anyone who has stubborn pockets of fat that they just can’t shift.” Regions that can be targeted include: hips, abdomen, inner thighs, outer thighs, arms, back, chin, and men’s chests
The effects of the treatment can be long-lasting with dramatic results. “Cryolipolysis is a permanent fat reduction treatment and clients can expect cm loss in the area treated,” Barakat said, adding, “With all results, we do need to maintain our results with a healthy diet and exercise. Each treatment permanently removes 20-30%.”
My first session:
After a consultation, explanation of the process, and measurements taken, it was decided that my treatment plan was to get cryolipolysis on two areas on either side of my stomach fat and then re-treat the same areas again in four weeks. Generally, at least two sessions are recommended in order to see optimum results on any given area. From the first treatment you can expect 20 to 30% reduction of the fat cells and the second treatment can lead to a 50% fat cell reduction. Obviously, even more sessions will lead to more dramatic results.
I’m ready to roll and get my fat frozen! OK so first up, it feels weird. Like, very weird. The machine literally sucks your fat into these suction cups and it’s a very intense experience, like someone has a big handful of your fat and they’re holding it tightly in their grasp. While I found it uncomfortable at first, thankfully as the freezing set in, the area becomes mostly numb — so after about five minutes you barely feel a thing.
Once both sections are sucked into the machine and my clinician made sure I felt comfortable, then you just have to chill there (literally, heheh) and wait. As I was laying on my front with the suction cups attached to the back of my side-stomach fat, I just closed my eyes, chucked on a podcast, and the time flew by. However, if you were getting a different area — like your thighs or arms — then it might be a rather awkward way to sit for almost an hour.
Then there’s the final stage which is bloody strange. Once the area is frozen and the suction cups are removed, the treated section becomes raised, kind of like a stick of butter. This area then has to be massaged back into your body and it does hurt a bit. It’s not like a sharp pain, but it kind of feels like someone is massaging a bruise — so it’s far from pleasant.
Once the massaging is over, warm towels are applied, and then you’re done. I got dressed and went about my day. While I wasn’t in enough pain to restrict my daily routine, I did feel extremely tender for a couple of days. I was warned that the suction cups might leave bruising and the next day a subtle bruise appeared, but after two days there were no marks.
After four weeks, I could already see a subtle change:
My second session:
I found the second treatment to be significantly more uncomfortable and even painful during parts. While I was prepared for the suction stage and for lying on my stomach for an hour, in the final part when the suction cups came off and warm towels were applied to the area, I felt a fair bit of discomfort.
Going from extreme cold to extreme heat made the area super sensitive and seemed to make my whole body react. On my right side in particular, my body took awhile to stop aching/cramping, and I sat for a few minutes feeling rather ill and nauseous. My clinician assured me this was a common reaction and thankfully, after about five minutes most of the pain subsided.
There was a definite change and my side-stomach fat was noticeably reduced in size.
It definitely works. My clinician measured my stomach area at the beginning, then again at 12 weeks after my first treatment and there was a significant reduction. Measuring from my waist down to my hips, I lost an average of five centimetres between the first and final treatment — which is an extremely impressive result. I would do it again on a different area of my body and I’ve already recommended the treatment to friends.
As you may notice in the photos, I lost a little bit of weight as well on my stomach during that time period. This wasn’t intentional but I didn’t expect a global pandemic to hit while I was doing my trial. But I’ve lost weight plenty of times before and it usually has virtually no effect on the fat that sits on the side of my stomach, as that’s where my stubborn fat doesn’t budge.
Overall, I was happy with the process and the results. The pockets of fat were noticeably smaller and I can say that my silhouette has never looked so smooth — which was my ultimate aim. I wouldn’t say it’s completely painless, as I experienced mild pain, but compared to more extreme ways of targeting fat — like liposuction — it’s far more tolerable and way more affordable.