Cool option: Cool Sculpting freezes fat, destroys it

SOUTH TAMPA, Fla. - South Tampa Dermatology is one of a handful of places in the bay area giving patients the option to "cool sculpt." The process, more specifically the device, used in cool sculpting was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration this year for the abdomen, waist, hips and thighs.

"We are literally chilling the fat cells in the applicator," said Certified Physician Assistant at South Tampa Dermatology, Loralee Koontz.

The applicator acts like a vacuum. It sucks up pinchable, fatty areas of the body, holds it and chills it. "The fat cells die, and over the next few weeks the body finds the dead fat cells and naturally eliminates them through the body," Koontz said. She pointed out there is no cutting and no anesthesia. Results are supposed to be permanent, and there is little to no down time.

Kathleen Thaxton of Tampa was cool sculpted about one year ago, before FDA clearance. She said, "The first two to three minutes, it's an intense pain, but nothing you can't breathe through. Once you're numb, there's no pain at all. I left, went about my day and wasn't sore at all. I loved the results."

Patients are asked to lay down for about one hour while the cool sculpting process takes place. Once the vacuum is removed from the skin, a firm and frozen area of the skin is left behind. It has to be quickly massaged and smoothed out.

Koontz said it takes four to eight weeks to see full results. She said, "This is not something where you will see a weight change on the scale. This is bulge reduction. As long as you maintain your same weight and lifestyle, the results are permanent."

Learn more about Cool Sculpting by visiting the following websites:

Koontz said the ideal candidate for cool sculpting is already at their ideal weight within five pounds and maintains a healthy lifestyle. People without pinchable, fatty areas of the body are not likely candidates.

Treatments start at about $600 and are considered "per area," like one love handle, one inner-thigh area or one portion of the abdomen.

Koontz said the "muffin top" is the most in-demand area for women to have cool sculpted, while men target their chest. She said about 90 percent of her patients are satisfied with results.

A search of FDA public, online records revealed one negative review of the process citing, "I was in so much pain I thought I was going to pass out," according to one, unnamed person. An FDA representative said because the process is so new, it's possible other reviews have not been registered.

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