This post was done in partnership with Allergan. But as always, all opinions and thoughts are 100% my own.
Self-love and self-improvement are not mutually exclusive.
It took me a while to reconcile those two concepts. With all the competing messages we’re constantly bombarded with, it can be hard to know what to believe. I am 100% in support of the wave of body positivity that has been ushered in in recent years and am so happy to see diverse body types finally being represented in a real way. But I’ve also felt conflicted because, if we’re encouraged to “love ourselves as we are” and “own our bodies”, then wouldn’t it be wrong or anti-body positive to want to lose weight or change something about our body? It’s a paradox!
After much reflection, there are 3 truths I believe: (1) loving yourself is a PROCESS (and if you’re like me, a lifelong one); (2) you can still love yourself and want to improve things about your body; and (3) regardless of your stance, you don’t have the right to judge what someone else does with his or her body.
It’s been a few weeks since I first opened up about one of my biggest insecurities about my body: my upper arms. The size of my upper arms has been an insecurity I’ve had for most of my life and I’d always said that if I had the means or the right opportunity came along, I’d do something about them. Before this year and learning about CoolSculpting®, other than through diet and exercise (which have been virtually impossible to manage consistently over the last 3 years – more on that below), there was no viable option for me. Quite frankly, I didn’t consider my upper arms to be that big of a ‘problem’ that I’d ever go under the knife, and no other means seemed permanent.
And, I do love myself …for the most part. (I’d be lying if I said I love everything about myself because no one does!)
What is CoolSculpting®?
CoolSculpting® (cryolipolysis) is a Canadian-licensed non-surgical body contouring treatment used to permanently remove excess fat from your body. It essentially freezes your fat cells, so they break down and then are expelled through your body’s natural processes (“cryo” means freeze and “lipolysis” means the breakdown of fats and lipids to release fatty acids).
While that’s the technical definition of what CoolSculpting® IS, I actually think it’s even more helpful to explain what CoolSculpting® IS NOT.
- A replacement for good diet and exercise – there is no question that, if you want to be fit, you have to put in the work
- Surgical or invasive – and as a result, there is no recovery time and you can resume normal activity right after
- A fad or fly-by-night procedure
- For everybody – as with any type of cosmetic or medical procedure, you should always consult a qualified physician first to ensure it’s right for you
If you are thinking about getting CoolSculpting® done, you should speak to a provider in your area.
The Lowdown on CoolSculpting®
Prior to sharing this post, I canvassed my audience on Instagram for their questions about CoolSculpting®. Because I consider it my responsibility to be completely truthful with my audience, I wanted to address several questions, based on the responses that I received.
To some of you, CoolSculpting® may sound too good to be true, or you might be wondering “what’s the catch?”. Well, as with any other cosmetic or medical procedure, it’s best to have a thorough understanding of what it is.
- Pain – Does it hurt? Well, the short answer is: it depends. Everyone’s pain tolerance is different. Some people may feel discomfort during the procedure or afterwards. Right after treatment, there is a 2-minute massage to help lymphatic drainage and improve results. During this massage, while the treatment site is still cool, it is common to experience sensations of pulling, tugging, and mild pinching, intense cold, tingling, stinging, aching, or cramping. These sensations subside as the area warms back up. I can honestly say that I did not feel any pain during the treatment (it felt cool, but not painful). I did feel discomfort (not pain) during the massage because, well, my arm was basically thawing out while the technician was rubbing it vigorously. I plan to share videos of the treatment and results with you on my IGTV in the near future, so you can see for yourselves.
- Effectiveness – Does it work? Well, individual results vary. On average, there is a 27% reduction in the fat layer that has been treated, and it can take anywhere from 3 weeks to up to 6 months to see the final results.[i] You may also need to do more than one round of treatment to see a change. That being said, it’s important to note that it’s not just up to CoolSculpting® for you to see results. You also have to put in the work to achieve the best results for your body, by drinking lots of water, exercising, and eating well.
- Side Effects – Is it safe? CoolSculpting® is generally considered safe and low-risk. There have been over 6 million successful cycles delivered worldwide.[ii] Any common side effects have been shown to be typically mild, not permanent and quick to heal.[iii] Common symptoms 1-2 weeks after a treatment can include redness, bruising, swelling, tenderness or cramping. I did not experience any side effects or symptoms after treatment. It is important to note that a qualified physician will go over any potential risks with you in more detail.
- Cost – How much is it? Well, treatment costs vary so much, so it’s not possible to say precisely how much it would cost you. You should speak to a provider in your area to determine the exact cost and to design a treatment plan that works for you.
Why I Decided to Get CoolSculpting®
So, why did I decide to get CoolSculpting®? Well, truthfully, due to timing.
First and foremost, I think it’s important to disclose that this post is as a result of a partnership. But, as with any of my other partnerships, and as with any organic content that I share on my blog and social channels, I would never serve anything to my audience that is dishonest. Doing so would affect my credibility and your confidence in me, which I take very seriously.
CoolSculpting® is something I’d been considering, and in this case, I decided to act on it. However, that does not, in any way, detract from the truthfulness of this post. I am not required to give CoolSculpting® a glowing endorsement. I am not telling you to go out and get CoolSculpting®. I am merely sharing MY experience, and I am committed to doing so fully and transparently. I elected to do CoolSculpting® because it was the right fit for me and I felt comfortable, after doing my research. Prior to now, I’ve never done anything to cosmetically alter myself.
I don’t need to go into my whole life story. But I can tell you that my weight has fluctuated my whole life. I think it’s pretty normal to have that +/- 10-lb. variance (for me, closer to 5-15 lbs.). I’ve always thought my upper arms are big for my petite frame, and this has been exaggerated when I’ve gained weight (hence my insecurity). Over time, my insecurity has gotten worse, as my body has changed. Since I started blogging in 2016, I’ve gained a noticeable amount of weight – an amount of weight that I’m not happy with (this doesn’t mean I don’t still love myself). The weight-gain has been incredibly difficult to counteract because I am constantly going to events, traveling, have an unpredictable schedule, and therefore can’t always be in a groove of exercising and eating well.
Apart from the things I may be able to control (i.e. diet and exercise), there are things I can’t control, like age and genetics. For as much as I didn’t want to believe that “once you hit 30 or 35, it’s downhill from there”, guys, it’s kinda true! From the age of 35 on, there’s been a considerable shift in my body. My metabolism has slowed, it’s tougher for me to lose weight, and it’s so much easier for me to gain weight. I am thankful to have a youthful appearance. But I’ve noticed that the signs of aging for the women in my family appear on the body – specifically, in the form of weight-gain.
I can do my best to exercise, but even exercise does not target specific areas of the body. Exercise can’t spot-treat stubborn fat areas. CoolSculpting® is the only thing that I’ve been able to find (that I feel comfortable doing) that does.
My Experience with CoolSculpting®
I visited Compass Dermatology, where I was assessed to be an eligible candidate for CoolSculpting®. I met with Dr. Julia Carroll and her 2 technicians, who are well-trained in administering CoolSculpting®. At the same time, and perhaps more importantly, I wanted to ensure I felt comfortable and this clinic was the right fit for me.
During the initial consultation, I identified my target areas, the treatment process was explained, and my arms were measured to determine which size applicator would be used on me.
Once the consultation was over and 2 rounds of treatment per arm were recommended for me, I booked my first appointment for another day to begin my CoolSculpting®. Overall, it was pretty seamless and I felt confident in my decision to proceed.
I returned for 2 rounds of CoolSculpting® over the course of a couple months (which I described above). After another couple months and a follow-up appointment, I am planning to go back in for a third and final round of treatment.
So, What’s Next?
I know you must be dying to know what my results have been; and I’m sorry the purpose of this post was not for that. I wanted to tell my story, in case some of you out there could relate.
I’m in the process of completing my CoolSculpting®, and I plan to share the rest with you soon (including the final results)! You can follow my CoolSculpting® journey on Instagram HERE.
CoolSculpting® or not, I also plan to continue along this windy road of self-love and self-improvement. I know I’ve come a long way, but there is still work to be done on both the outside and inside! Overall, there is no replacement for being mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy.
I would love it if you participated in the discussion – whether about CoolSculpting®, cosmetic treatments in general, or self-love! I am always curious to hear your thoughts and am open to addressing any of your comments, questions, or concerns. Feel free to leave a comment below or DM me on Instagram. If you have an experience with CoolSculpting®, I’d love to hear about it as well!
Photography by: Laura Clarke Photography
[i] Sasaki GH, et al. Aesthetic Surgery Journal 2014;34:420– 431.
[iii] User Manual CoolSculpting System, BRZ-101-TUM-EN4-H.