Oct 18 2013

My Coolsculpting Experience--as told by a nurse. Part I

CoolSculpting Fat Reduction Connecticut

Every woman has an area (or areas!)  on their body that they would like to change; mine is my lower abdominal belly pouch.  I feel like it has been there all my life,  and we have been able to figure out how to live in harmony together--me and my belly.  Although, I have to say in the past eight years or so it has gotten a ‘little less friendly’ as it has grown a bit following  two  pregnancies and one C-Section.  So when I was offered the chance to try CoolSculpting, a non-invasive fat reduction treatment, of course, I jumped at the chance.
 
The ads are fancy and the literature promises improvement with little pain and no down time.  Well, as a Registered Nurse (RN), I know full well that no procedure truly has no side effects.  Every person’s body reacts differently and what one person loves another person may think is torture.  But never the less, I was willing to try and see what my experience would be like. Not to mention, I am a CoolSculpting RN myself, so I wanted to know what my patients where experiencing so that I could best help them move through their unique CoolSculpting process.

The CoolSculpting Consultation

During the consultation we talked about exactly what areas I wanted treated and what were my treatment goals. Was I a good candidate for the CoolSculpting treatment?  Dr. Duke and the nurse were very straightforward about what the device can, and cannot, do. We reviewed how the procedure works, realistic expectations, and then developed a treatment plan for my specific sites. The  treatment plan is designed to give me the best results using different applicator shapes and numbers. I would need a four cycle (each cycle being a one hour session) treatment with four yellow applicators on the different quadrants of my abdomen (two on the top and two on the bottom).  I would need an additional two cycles (or another two hour session) to treat my side flanks with two purple applicators (one for each side flank).

The CoolSculpting Treatment Plan

Now,  there are several different shapes and types of applicators so that a treatment plan can fit and sculpt different body shapes and bulges.  In general, the smaller purple ones  ‘sculpt’ and the larger yellow applicators ‘debulk’ the treatment site.  So by the choice of applicators, I guess I really needed some debulking before I could sculpt! 

After this initial treatment, it was planned that I would need at least four purple applicators in the same area at least 3 months later to ultimately get the final results I was looking for. Some patients just need one session--other patients need more than one session. It depends on how much tissue there is to be treated, where the tissue is on your body, how well the tissue draws into the applicators, and how the tissue responds to the treatment. Twelve total sessions--ah!--that sounded a bit daunting. But we are trying to change my body here. One step at a time. So here we go with treatment session one. 

What actually happens during a CoolSculpting Treatment?

On the day of my treatment, I showed up in my comfy black pants and proudly showed my belly for a series of photos.  Not my proudest moment, but I was hopeful that three months later, I would be showing off a different abdomen for my post CoolSculpting photos.   After a quick stop in the bathroom, it was off to the treatment room where I was to spend the next four hours having my fat frozen in a vacuum box.  Yes, you heard that right, I got comfortable in the chair and the nurse proceeded to expose my belly and place a cold, wet pad on it.  I was told this would protect my skin from frostbite, while my fat cells were being frozen so that they would carefully shrivel up and go away over the next three months. 

coolsculpting pre and postThen came the vacuum.  The loud noise coming from the giant bowl like device that would hold my fat was a little unnerving. Then, like a flash I felt my flesh get sucked into the bowl.  OUCH!!!!  For a brief second, I felt like my skin was going to be sucked right off my belly.  But as fast as it started the pain subsided.  All that was left was a gentle tugging sensation on my abdomen.  I got used to that.

Then the nurse turned on the cold that would freeze all those fat cells in the bulge of tissue that was now safely sucked up into the high tech freeze machine that was an applicator cup.  The initial sensation was cold and then freezing and then that numb sensation you get after playing outside with wet gloves for a few hours.  All of that lasted only minutes and I found myself resting back in the chair and looking forward to an hour of playing Words with friends and catching up on Facebook.

Does a CoolSculpting Treatment hurt?

At that point, the nurse turned on the cold that would freeze all those fat cells in the bulge of tissue that was now safely sucked up into the high tech freeze machine that was an applicator cup.  The initial sensation was cold and then freezing and then that numb sensation you get after playing outside with wet gloves for a few hours.  All of that lasted only minutes and I found myself resting back in the chair and looking forward to an hour of playing Words with friends and catching up on Facebook.
 

What does a CoolSculpting Treatment feel like? 


how coolsculpting worksAfter about an hour, the nurse returned to remove the vacuum and prepare to debulk the other side of my abdomen of fat.  To detach the applicator from my first treatment site, she reached under the applicator bowl and popped off the suction.  Under the cup lay a large frozen almost brick-like looking bulge of my belly.  The nurse massaged the frozen blob until is melted back into reddened but soft-not-frozen flesh.  Although she warned it might be painful, I felt nothing but slight pressure and a little ticklish when she was outside the frozen area.
 
This process repeated itself three more times (three more hours) as we debulked my lower and upper abdomen.  Each session played out almost exactly the same each time; cold gel pad, intense vacuum, frostbite and a pleasant massage of my frozen, lardy flesh. 

After fours hours of resting in the chair and catching up with friends on my phone, I was antsy to be done.  When my four cycles were complete and it was time to leave the office, my entire belly was numb, with some small red spots and a little bruising.

What does it feel like after a CoolSculpting treatment: that night

That first evening at home, I noticed the bruising began to spread and my flesh felt sore. It was a weird sensation; not like I had done too many sit ups but almost like I had to gently carry my aching belly. That night, I found a use for my old over the belly maternity pants in the back of the closet again. I took Motrin every five hours or so,  and sleeping was a challenge that second night. But the bruising, swelling and soreness seemed to reach a peak about 48 hours after the CoolSculpting treatment, and then began to decrease.

What does it feel like after a CoolSculpting treatment: the next day

My lower abdomen, where the largest amount tissue was sucked into the vacuumed applicator,  was more bruised than my upper abdomen. There was also some swelling and bloating; I looked like I had gained about ten pounds all in my belly area. 

As a CoolSculpting nurse, I have recognized and come to expect that the sensations patients feel both during and after the treatment is quite varied, like people’s reaction to all treatments. Most patients report not a big deal during and after. Everyone reports some sensations, mostly graded as mild to moderate. Most patients I have called two days post CoolSculpting treatment as a follow up don’t seem to report as much pain or bruising as I had, maybe I am just the oddball (as usual). I also had four hours of treatment with the largest applicators available--so it might be related to the amount of tissue treated at one go with the big applicators.

What does it feel like after a CoolSculpting treatment: the first week

coolsculpting pre and post I am currently at  Day Three from my treatments. The soreness in the treatment site has continued since my four cycle session, though has either plateaued or is diminished in the different areas. I can even see and feel differences between the four applicator cup sites--so each is a bit varied in how much bruising and soreness. 
The bruises are beginning to fade to yellow and I am beginning to have sensations of pins and needles in my skin instead of being completely numb.  600mg of Motrin takes the edge off the sore sensation, but I still have to watch how I lie in bed at night (on my back) and that my kids don’t jump on my midsection. 

Did I take time off from work or working out after a CoolSculpting treatment?

I did not take time off from work and did fine.  Some patients even work out the day afer their treatment. Overall, I am still sore and slightly swollen, so I am anxious to see what the healing process brings and what my long term results will be.

 

CoolSculpting Experience: Part I

I hope the above description helps you envision what the treatment is like, feels like, and what to expect after your treatment. I can see that all patients are a bit different. I would say the actual treatment has some discomfort and painful moments, but can be done. After the treatment, expect some discomfort, pain, bloating, swelling, and bruising, though it all fades away. Some patients it is more; some patients it is less. We are all different. Check back in the upcoming months as I update my CoolSculpting experience.

Click on the icon below to learn more about this procedure to determine if it is right for you:

coolsculpting logo

 

 

To: Coastal Dermatology: Daniella Duke, MD
or

Dear Dr. Duke,
interested in learning more about .
Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Expand to Personalize Your Message

Coastal Dermatology: Daniella Duke, MD

Phone: (860) 245-0000
Fax: (860) 245-0610