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Eyewitness News Investigates: Fat Removal

A procedure called Cool Sculpting is advertised as a non-invasive alternative to liposuction.
Eyewitness News investigates a medical procedure being advertised in the Central Valley.  It's called  Cool Sculpting, and it allegedly "freezes the fat away," but is it too good to be true?

From fad diets to surgeries, fat removal is a multi-billion dollar business.  A procedure that's non-invasive, with no recovery time may sound like a great option, but you have to be the right candidate to get it.

Billboards around Fresno say Cool Sculpting can take a pinch of fat and freeze it away.  Doctor Kathleen Behr is a board certified dermatologist who performs the procedure.

"This was invented from doctors from Harvard who noticed when kids eat popsicles, and when they hold it to their cheek, they get atrophy of the fat," said Dr. Behr.  

Julie Caldwell is a physician's assistant who works in the office.  She was brave enough to let our cameras in for her treatment on three areas of her stomach.  She didn't hold back describing what the process feels like. 

"When the first apply the applicator you feel some suctioning, and then as it starts to freeze it's a lot more uncomfortable; burning and tingling," said Caldwell.

To begin, a glycol pad is placed over the area to protect the skin.  Then this instrument sucks the fat inside.  Each treatment takes about an hour and costs anywhere from $500 to $1,500, depending on the size of the area.

"It freezes the fat cells and when those fat cells are frozen, after the Cool Sculpting machine is removed, we massage to lyse those fat cells and those fat cells are permanently gone," said Dr. Behr.

This is the part that Caldwell says it the most painful, but she's focusing on the results, typically a 20% fat reduction. 

"I wouldn't do it if it were too uncomfortable, so it's definitely worth it," said Caldwell.

A representative of Cool Sculpting thumbs through some before and after pictures.  It takes about two months to see the full difference.  The procedure is only for people with trouble spots who aren't too overweight.  Cool Sculpting was approved by the FDA in 2010.  Eyewitness News' medical corespondent says long term effects are still unknown, but early studies show it's safe. 

"The procedure is relatively new in its use in the clinical setting, so we would need more long term studies about it's long term effectiveness," said Dr. Giatri Dave.

Dr. Dave also suggests you seek a board certified physician who you're comfortable with for any cosmetic procedure.
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