No needle. No scalpel. No scars. But can you really freeze off fat in an instant?
As the effects of the festive feeding frenzy become all too evident on our waistlines, many of us are on the lookout for a quick fix to tone those tummies, lose our love handles and tame troublesome thighs.
The new procedure that's causing a buzz is CoolSculpting, a non- invasive, no needle, no scalpel, no scar alternative to liposuction.
Demand for the procedure that sucks up fat and freezes it to death was reported to be at an all-time high in the U.S. last week.
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Leah Hardy tried new procedure CoolSculpting, a non- invasive alternative to liposuction
Tracy Mountford, cosmetic doctor and founder of the Cosmetic Skin Clinics in London and Buckinghamshire, says it's the same in Britain.
'Phones rang off the hook in the run-up to the festivities with inquiries about CoolSculpting,' she says. 'It's not just women who are booking in, men are also keen on the procedure.'
CoolSculpting was launched two years ago, and I was the very first British journalist to try it (not, I should add, with Dr Mountford).
Because it was so new, I researched the procedure thoroughly before putting myself through it. It had been extensively tested before being approved by the notoriously tough Food and Drug Administration in the U.S.
'The ideal candidate is within two stone of their ideal body weight and has pockets of pinchable soft fat on muffin tops, flanks, back fat, abdomen and inner thighs'
It works by cryolipolysis, which means fat cells are cooled to near freezing, crystallise, shatter and die. I was worried that all this dead fat would get into my bloodstream and raise my blood fats or put my liver under strain, but the studies show dead fat cells are digested by white blood cells in the immune system.
The studies also showed the treatment wouldn't damage my skin or nerves, and that a single one-hour procedure could shrink the fat in the area being treated by an average of 20 to 25 per cent.
Sounds impressive, but in reality, this equates to a reduction in fat depth of just four millimetres - though you can repeat the treatment as often as you like (or can afford). However, in studies the fat loss from follow-up treatments tended to be less drastic.
When I had my treatment, I was disappointed to find that the CoolSculpting machine could vacuum up only an area roughly the size of a pack of butter at any one time, so to target my muffin top, I needed two treatments.
At £800 a time, it's not exactly pocket money.
The machine is about the size of a smallish fridge, and is on wheels. The wand, which is attached to the body of the machine, looks like an oblong-shaped metal frame.
Fat freezes at a higher temperature than other tissue, so you can freeze body fat without damaging skin
A gel sheet is placed over the top before it is put over the area to be treated, and as the machine is switched on, a strong vacuum effect pulls your wobbly bits into the machine.
It wasn't painful for me, but others I've spoken to have said differently, especially on treatments on the abdomen.
Afterwards, I was horrified to find that the area of skin and fat that had been treated was frozen solid, just like a pack of lard from the freezer. I was assured this would quickly melt down again, and within just ten minutes it did. There was no bruising or soreness.
Dr Mountford points out that CoolSculpting isn't a weight loss treatment because it removes only small areas of fat. However, the company has launched better, larger applicators that treat bigger areas, such as the abdomen.
'The ideal candidate is within two stone of their ideal body weight and has pockets of pinchable soft fat on muffin tops, flanks, back fat, abdomen and inner thighs,' she says.
Results aren't instant either. Effects are visible in around three weeks, but vastly improve after around to 12 to 14 weeks.
I saw a subtle reduction in the pesky fat that crept over the waistband of my jeans and returned for treatments on my bingo wings.
I shouldn't have bothered, as I didn't see any improvement in them at all.
My verdict? CoolSculpting is safe, fast and works on lumps and bumps - but won't make a fat person look thin. In fact, the only person who will really notice the results is you.
For a dramatic change in your body, spend the £1,600 on a personal trainer instead.
VIDEO: A preview of the "Coolscultping" procedure:
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