Jason Bonney has lost 25 pounds in the past year and a half and works out twice a week at the gym, but even so, he just can't seem to lose the "love handles" on either side of his waist.
"I just wanted a kick start to get rid of them," said the 42-year-old Silver Spring Twp. man.
He found the help he needed with a new noninvasive fat reduction technique that freezes fat cells and naturally eliminates them in targeted areas such as love handles, back fat and abdominal bulges.
Known as CoolSculpting™ by ZELTIQ™, the Food and Drug Administration just approved the technique last summer.
The method is perfect for people who are trying to address their weight with proper exercise and diet but who need a little extra help, according to Dr. John Stratis of Stratis Gayner Plastic Surgery in Hampden Twp. He is the only provider in central Pennsylvania to offer the technique, according to ZELTIQ's website.
"It's not a weight loss procedure. It works best for people who are of reasonable weight in reasonable shape," he said. "When I see a patient for a consultation of any type, in the past, I would start out with talking about diet and exercise – what everyone should be doing to control weight – and then I would have to jump to liposuction because that's all we had to offer. Now there's something in between – a noninvasive technique for fat reduction."
For Bonney, who was not interested in having surgery, ZELTIQ was the perfect solution, he said. He learned about the technique while taking his wife for liposuction at Stratis Gayner.
CoolSculpting is done by applying an applicator to the skin that sucks loose skin and fat into its chamber. The skin and fat is cooled to 4 degrees Celsius for an hour.
"When you cool down fat and skin together, the fat freezes first and the skin stays alive. When the cooling stops, you basically have an area where 20 to 25 percent of the fat cells are dead," Stratis said. "The dead cells are reabsorbed into the body through a natural process."
With CoolSculpting, there are no needles or incisions and no down time after the procedure.
"It's not painful. It feels like vacuum cleaner suction," Stratis said, describing the procedure. "After you stop the suction, the skin looks like a pound of butter frozen in a lump for about a minute and then it goes back into shape," he said.
By contrast, liposuction destroys fat cells surgically by breaking them apart, which requires the body to naturally repair the area during recovery, just like with any surgical procedure.
Bonney said he answered e-mails and played games on his cell phone while having the CoolSculpting procedure done. "It was cold, but it didn't hurt at all," he said.
The results aren't evident right away because it takes the body some time to recognize that there are dead cells that need to be reabsorbed. By about four months later, patients will see 90 percent of the desired result, Stratis said.
Once the fat cells are gone, they're gone, but that doesn't mean that patients can't gain back the weight if they eat too much or don't exercise enough, he said.
The procedure, at $750 per area treated, is cheaper than liposuction; however, liposuction gets out more fat in a shorter time period, he said. For love handles, the cost is $750 per side for a total of $1,500.
"I didn't mind the cost at all. If it works, it's worth it," Bonney said.
"We've gotten a very good response to it since we began offering it in September," Stratis said. More women than men have tried it, but men like it because it can be done "under the radar" with no missed time from work for recovery, Stratis said.
The procedure is completely safe but should not be done over recent surgical areas of the body or if someone has a hernia or is taking a blood thinner, he said. Patients could experience a feeling of cramping a week or so after the procedure, which is temporary, he said.
"It's really revolutionary – that you can remove fat without surgery and with really no down time," Stratis said.
"I can already notice a difference," said Bonney, who has gone down a pant size since the procedure. "My clothes will fit better and I'll look better and feel better."