Freezing the Fat: Is CoolSculpting Scary Good or Just Scary?

“Can I lose 10 pounds in a week?”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever stood in front of a mirror before so-called bikini season and asked that question. (Our hand is currently raised, FYI.) The logical answer that considers our mental and physical wellness is a resolute, “No.” But the answer from YouTube, Google, and brand ambassadors for detox tea is, “Yes, of course!” Obviously, we’d prefer door number 2 since it promises a leaner, meaner body without having to do annoying stuff like “make sustainable lifestyle changes.”

What happened to Linda Evangelista? What is CoolSculpting?

Recently, Linda Evangelista’s brave story about a cosmetic procedure gone wrong reminded us why the slower road should be more traveled—even if it is lined with plié pulses. After disappearing from the public eye, the ‘90s Supermodel resurfaced to tell the world why she’s been MIA. Turns out that in 2015, she tried CoolSculpting (technically known as cryolipolysis), where a targeted area is essentially frozen until 10-25% of the fat cells are zapped away. It sounds amazing… unless you’re one of the few people like Linda who develop Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia (PAH) as a side effect.

 

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In fewer than 1% of CoolSculpting patients, the procedure causes the overgrowth of fat cells  8-24 weeks after treatment. The now enlarged areas become hardened, resembling what some clinicians describe as a “stick of butter.” Various researchers have suggested causes for this complication, including genetic predisposition, use of a large hand-tool during the application, and previous cryolipolysis sessions, but there’s no scientific consensus for why this exactly happens. (Men and Latinx patients are also more likely to develop PAH post-CoolSculpting, but the reasoning has yet to be determined.)

In some cases, PAH can be treated with liposuction—and if the abdomen was targeted, a tummy tuck—to remove the affected tissues, but Linda tried that twice with no improvement in her condition. (Can we also pause to mention how bonkers it is that liposuction—which has its own slew of risks like fat embolisms and malformed skin—is the recommended fix for a side effect from another procedure? Really, somebody drop a rap beat because that is absolutely Ludicrous.)

coolsculpting procedure cryolipolysis equipment

Does regular cryotherapy have the same risks?

Of course, CoolSculpting is just one slice of the chilling story that is cryotherapy. Other celebs like Jennifer Aniston have dabbled in the full-body version since research shows it can reduce inflammation, soothe muscles, and even treat migraines. What isn’t scientifically backed is the claim that entering the creepy chamber, getting Saweetie-level Icy for a few minutes, then repeating helps us shed inches, leading Healthline to say the potential side effects like nerve damage aren’t worth the “largely unproven benefits of weight loss.”

Linda is echoing that sentiment now that she’s publically embracing her still-beautiful body. But it’s important to note that none of this is her fault—just like it’s no one’s fault when a diet or crazy 30-day challenge goes wrong. What is wrong is how societal pressure makes us feel the need to try things like cryotherapy or 500-calorie meal plans. The worst part? We’re told to try those things now. But newsflash: Our bodies work by their own rules, not the patriarchy’s. That’s why years and years of research show that quick fitness fixes like fad diets simply don’t work long-term

cryotherapy chamber

How should I reach my health goals?

Sustainable lifestyle choices. Eye roll, we know, but it’s true.

Studies show staying regularly hydrated (the recommended fluid intake for women is 2.7 liters per day) helps you get fueled up for a workout, avoid overeating, and increase the number of calories your body burns in and out of the gym. (One study even found that women who drank 1 liter of water a day compared to those who didn’t dropped an extra 4.4 pounds over 12 months without any other changes.) Even underrated forms of exercise like walking have been proven to lower blood pressure, aid weight loss, and boost brain function.

We know advice like “drink 64 oz of water” or “take 7,000 steps a day” isn’t as sexy as “shred 6-pack abs in 12 minutes 🔥.” And while challenges are great for shaking up our routines, daily habits are what really seal the deal. So instead of saying, “I want to lose 30 pounds by June,” try, “I want to make the healthiest decisions I can until June, then love whatever body I end up with.” And if those decisions are getting rest, staying active, and maintaining a nourishing diet, odds are you’ll feel stronger and more energetic anyway. 

That reframe of fitness is what helps you appreciate the benefits of Tiktok’s “silly little walk” trend. It’ll also help you avoid the CoolSculpting, obsessive calorie counting, and the guilt following a bowl of pasta (which has been part of our balanced diet since age 3, and no one will ever change that). The bottom line: You do not need to detox or restrict or any other negatively connotated word to reclaim your confidence. Just make choices that help you feel empowered—and please, for our peace of mind, avoid any wellness scheme that writes its disclaimers in itty-bitty print.

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9 thoughts on “Freezing the Fat: Is CoolSculpting Scary Good or Just Scary?”

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  1. Luscious viv says:

    Thanks Casey for always keeping us informed with these amazing research. Enabling us to make an informed decision. Let the one who has ear hear what the spirit tell the congregation.

  2. Doria says:

    Cassey.
    I have been your follower for years, I love your philosophy of hard work and learn to love our bodies for what they can do for us and I love your articles but this one, even if I found it interesting, made me feel disturbed, for two things: first as a latin person I feel wronged for the use of an imposed sufix: latinx, it is a word made in USA for referring latin american people, that means to be inclusive? But in your language such a thing is not required and real latin american people do not abide to this expresion so I find it disturbing in relation to the next thing: patriachy, which patriachy? Why did the author not said society? Women and men alike have demanded in last times to women to be as slim as she can, it is not only men and in this age no one force any women, at least in America, to do anything she does not want. Both words are related to an ideology: feminism, an ideology that is telling women how to dress, what to think, what to aspire, how to behave and so mucho more and it is related to so much destruction and segregation in many places. I am under no mean saying that the author of this behaves like that only that she is actings biased maybe for not knowing better or because this is a policy thats is becoming mainstream, I do not know.
    I am concerned, I love your work, I love your philosophy and I love that you are the perfect example of what any woman, or man, can built by herself in this time of freedom with her effort, hard work and the support of her comunity and is this why after a long tought I decided to write this, you are an inspiration to many of us because who you are, without tags and without labels and I would love it remains like that. This place has always been a space free of tags and lebels were people of all the world and ideologies come to improve themselves taking care of their bodies and their minds and I love it.
    Thank you for that and for all the hard work you do and keep doing for us and for your team and I knoww I will keep following because you are one of my inspirations.
    Thank you for all.

    1. Natalia says:

      Clearly you don’t know anything about feminism, you should educate yourself on the topic so you don’t say foolness about “feminism dictating how to dress” and so on, when it’s exactly the opposite. And denying that society is based on the male gaze just can come from a total lack of analytical view and thinking…

    2. Dani says:

      The fact that you called feminism an ideology says a lot about why you’re seeing negatives in this article. She used “Latinx” because, to try and respect the source word, they usually say “Latina” or “Latino”, rather than “Latin”. I agree that the English word is already neutral, but it lacks the cultural element they are trying to preserve. Regarding the use of “patriarchy” rather than “society”, that is even simpler: it is patriarchal notions imbued in society’s views that pressure women – and men – to look abs behave a certain way. I suggest you read more into these topics if you are concerned, it might bring about some important considerations.

    3. Kennedy Hill says:

      Hi Doria,
      Thank you so much for reading my article and giving your honest feedback. I agree that I LOVE the Blogilates brand and how welcoming it is to everyone trying to achieve their wellness and life goals. With that in mind, I never meant for you to feel as if I was forcing the word Latinx while reading. I know there’s a lot of debate within the Latin community about its use, but based on my research and knowledge from members of the community, I personally choose to use it to be inclusive to people who don’t identify as strictly men or women. I can’t say if that choice is right or wrong since I’m not Latina myself, but it’s just what I’m most comfortable using as a writer. As for the patriarchy comment, I agree that some parts of feminism can come across as belittling or forceful, but my goal here was to just say that since men have primarily been in charge of our society, they’ve also dictated how both men and women define beauty. It’s something I’ve studied extensively, but I will definitely work to do a better job to make sure I’m clear about my intentions when writing about complicated topics like culture or gender norms. Again, thank you so much for bringing your criticisms to light. It helps me grow as a writer, and I hope you’ll see that progress in my next article!

  3. Audrey says:

    This is an unpopular opinion, but I have had a very positive experience with cool sculpting. I even found it empowering when nothing else worked. It will NEVER change the scale, I can say that after having several treatments.

    I hated my thighs for as long as I can remember, and they would NOT budge. It didn’t matter if I was nearly underweight, pulsing with pop Pilates, squatting like no other, sleeping well, swimming, jogging, and eating a diet recommended by an RD. I lived fitness to a near extreme and I loved what my body could do, but I still wasn’t happy with the mirror. Taking control with cool sculpting has made me feel more confident and focus more on my overall wellness. I felt better going to a licensed professional and knowing that this procedure IS FDA approved. That being said, my solution won’t fit for everyone, much like a certain workout or food wouldn’t work for everyone (injuries, allergies, pre-existing limitations). Much like my personal diet or fitness regimen, I wouldn’t going around advertising it to people as a one size fits all solution. It’s a choice each person has to make for him or herself.

    That being said, I am so sorry for those that have experienced the negative side effects. That has to be beyond disheartening. But no one should be shamed for their journeys or for trying a treatment. These professionals also shouldn’t be shamed for offering a solution for many others. My cool sculpting provider has always focused on informed consent and confidence and had never been opportunistic, but I’m not sure if everyone has been as lucky. I’m also not lazy, insecure, or worth any less as a person for making this choice to have cool sculpting. Neither is anyone else for a cosmetic treatment. That could range from eyelash extensions, hair color/cut, perm, Brazilian blowout, Botox, fillers, surgery, and so on. Everyone has their own journey, and it needs to be respected. I’d rather we focus on educating the public that this is a procedure, there are risks, and proceed with knowledge. That is life. We shouldn’t be shaming and then calling it the patriarchy’s fault, because my choice (like the of many others) had nothing to do with sexism. I felt that I had to keep it secret so that my coworkers, friends, and family would think less of me. Because spending on yourself is also shamed by the patriarchy.

    This blog missed the mark, but I think I know what you were trying to say. Fitness and nutrition are often lacking and there is no such thing as a quick fix. I was just disappointed with how it was carried out and had to say something.

    Again, it helped me but that doesn’t mean it will help everyone. I will not downplay that it is strictly a case by case basis. This treatment is a medical procedure!

    1. Samantha says:

      Audrey, You said you hated your legs for as long as you can remember and then you say, “I’m also not insecure…”
      Secondly, she never shamed anyone. Calling out health risks of an extreme procedure isn’t “shaming” anyone.
      Third, what about this article offended you so much if you’re so happy? If you were truly as secure in yourself as you are claiming, you wouldn’t be working so hard to defend your decision. People need to be informed and not feel pressure to change their appearance. If they do decide to, that’s their prerogative. But there are 13+ year old girls who are absorbing this information in and not need to worry about a little cellulite.

      1. Audrey says:

        I can love myself and still want to improve. People can dye their hair and still love their hair. You can try facials and feel better about your skin. This is an noninvasive FDA approved procedure. I’m not going to pick a fight with you. We can agree to disagree. I feel better because I tried something different instead of quitting. Cherry picking and quoting isn’t an attempt to understand a different view. Making an informed decision is also knowing the benefits. I happen to like myself, and it’s ok if you don’t like that I enjoyed the procedure or think I’m insecure for it. But people do shame others for even GETTING cosmetic treatments, even if it brought that person joy. People are not labeled insecure for dying their hair or building tone. Why am I being labeled insecure for a past tense feeling by a stranger on the internet?

    2. Kennedy Hill says:

      Hi Audrey,
      Thank you so much for not only reading my article, but for also taking the time to share your thoughtful responses about its message. It was never my intention to make you or anyone else feel ashamed for trying CoolSculpting or any other procedure. My aim was more to discuss how societal pressures to look a certain way have allowed potentially dangerous interventions to spread in our community, and I definitely could’ve done more to make that point crystal clear. I’m a huge advocate of doing whatever feels right for your body, so I will work hard to make sure that sentiment is loud and clear in my next works!