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YOUR HEALTH: CoolSculpting to lose weight

HAGERSTOWN, Maryland – You've heard it from friends, family, maybe you've even said it yourself:  I've tried everything and I just can't get rid of the extra fat.

Traditionally, some people turn to "tummy tucks", the surgical removal of fat. But others are now turning to a cheaper alternative called CoolSculpting.

CoolSculpting is a freezing treatment that works like a vacuum cleaner. While the canisters suck in fat, the tissue chills to 39 degrees, causing it to crystallize.

"They found a way to cool the fat, but not kill the skin," said plastic surgeon Dr. Salvadore DiMercurio.

Jerra Feaga was treated on her thighs and stomach.

"It's like a numbing feeling that continues to get colder and colder to the point of probably what hypothermia feels like," she explained.

The pain generally lasts about seven minutes of the hour-long treatment.

"Even though we have some good results four to eight weeks post treatment, we find that if we treat that area again, we get better results," said Dr. DiMercurio.

"It's only up to a 30 percent decrease, so it`s not going to be a wow factor," said Feaga.

For more dramatic results, some patients consider the tummy tuck sometimes called the yummy mummy surgery.

"Typically it's the woman who's had children; she goes to the gym five days a week, she doesn't understand why she can't remove this loose flabby skin," said plastic surgeon Dr. Henry Garazo.

Like Christine, a mom, who after two C-sections, still had overhanging skin.  But she says after surgery, she physically improved by 90 percent.

"Everything isn't going to be perfect, but it's better than it was," explained Christine Rosenthal.  "That's how I viewed it."

"It's transformational. For women when they walk in the office, you can literally see them at the front desk walking down the hall and they're a completely new person," said Dr. Garazo.

Neither procedure is covered by insurance. CoolSculpting costs about $2000 to $3000 and tummy tucks from $5000 on up.

COOLSCULPTING: CoolSculpting, or cryolipolysis, is a procedure that selectively damages subcutaneous fat cells by freezing them. The body eliminates the dead fat cells, which results in a more sculpted appearance. There is no damage to the overlying skin which makes this a generally safe and non-invasive fat removal procedure. The treatment includes the application of a gel pad and applicator, which delivers controlled cooling to the targeted fat. Typically it takes anywhere from one to three months to see results and often requires several procedures.  Source: (http://coolsculptinghcp.com/fat-freezing-science/cryolipolysis/)

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.