CoolSculpting: Can you get rid of unwanted fat without going under the knife?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — What if you could freeze your fat away? A cosmetic procedure is exploding in popularity, and it doesn’t involve surgery.

It’s called CoolSculpting -- and it’s exactly how it sounds. To put it simply, the procedure freezes fat cells in certain areas of your body and then gets rid of them permanently.

Mother of two Lisa Garrett isn’t feeling the burn -- rather, she’s feeling the freeze. She says it worked for her.

“No anesthesia, no getting cut open, no more scars. I’ve had two C-sections. I had two babies one after the other. An idea of not having to get cut open again and not having to get a tummy tuck and liposuction, it’s like a Godsend,” she said.

Dr. Patrick Basille, a board-certified plastic surgeon, explains.

“More and more patients are looking for non-surgical options, either because they don’t have the time to be able to take off, or don’t want the discomfort or the recovery with the surgery,” he said.

Basille said fat-freezing technology has transformed the industry.

“Up until recently, there was never anything that was predictable and reliable to get rid of fat, especially non-surgically,” he said.

There is also zero recovery time, which was the deal-sealer for Garrett.

“I have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old that I have to chase them around, I have to carry them around; there’s just no time for that,” she said.

Four months ago, she had her stomach “CoolSculpted” and loved the results.

“As the weeks went on, I kid you not, I could see my stomach getting flatter and flatter and flatter, and it was an amazing thing to see,” she said.

Garrett let the cameras in to watch her second procedure, targeting what she calls her love handles. The process starts with the registered nurse applying a gel to protect the skin from the freezing, then the machine goes to work.

During the procedure, Garrett said, “Right now it’s very cold, it’s almost starting to be uncomfortably cold.”

After 20 to 30 minutes, the nurse performs a two-minute massage on the treated area, and that’s it. The treatment does have risks, including a rare side effect where instead of fat leaving the body, it hardens.

“What you’re referring to is Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia, which is a very, very rare adverse outcome which I think affects, of all people who have had cool sculpting, 0.025%,” Basille said.

As CoolSculpting skyrockets in popularity, companies are coming up with over-the-counter fat-freezing devices that aren’t FDA-approved.

“What we’ve seen from those DIYs is that they just don’t work,” explained Basille. “Also, what we see when people really try DIY and put ice packs and stuff is, they’re getting frostbite and things like this and damaging their own skin.”

He said it’s an absolute waste of money. But Garrett said freezing the fat away professionally has been a life-changer.

Since going on this journey, she said it’s brought her confidence back.

“I can put on a bathing suit again and not feel embarrassed, take my shirt off at the gym, which sounds like a very childish thing to care about. But it’s nice to just not worry about what you’re looking like and fitting in old clothes from 15 years ago,” she said.

The price of CoolScultping can vary based on how many areas of the body are being treated, and how many sessions it takes to see results. Patients can end up paying anywhere from $750 to $5,000.