“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.)
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.
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.