I won’t sugarcoat it: CoolSculpting hurts. The bonafide fat freezing treatment goes from ‘mildly uncomfortable’ to ‘total agony’ – but it also works, at least in my experience. If you’re game to give it a crack, then read on.

First: what the hell is CoolSculpting? It’s a non-invasive, non-surgical medical procedure that claims to literally melt fat, permanently. If you’ve walked past a Laser Clinics Australia outpost, you’ve probably seen it advertised – they’re one of the biggest providers of the treatment in Australia.

Disclaimer: reviewing a fat reduction treatment isn’t to say that all bodies aren’t beautiful – they are! But if you’re thinking about the procedure, here’s everything you need to know.

So how does CoolSculpting actually work?

The CoolSculpting tech, which is TGA approved, uses controlled cooling to literally freeze your fat cells and let your body eliminate them via its ‘natural processes’ (a.k.a. you pee it out).

The most common areas people treat are their bellies, thighs, chins, arms and backs – essentially, anywhere you store fat. LCA’s CoolSculpting genius Paris described it to me with these immortal words: “If you can pinch it, you can treat it.”

And does it reduce fat? What does the research say?

It’s not a cure for obesity, but yes, it absolutely works. CoolSculpting is designed to move those stubborn bits of fat that diet and exercise don’t seem to budge, rather than significantly change your size / weight.

On average, CoolSculpting reduces fat by 20%. A 2015 review of 19 studies found fat reduction ranged from 14.67% to 28.5%, making CoolSculpting a “promising procedure for non-surgical fat reduction and body contouring”. It’s an alternative to liposuction, but without the risks (and costs) of a full-on surgery.

The review found one case of “paradoxical adipose hyperplasia”, which is when a patient finds excess fat recurrence in the areas treated. This is a known side effect, but a very, very rare one. Outside of that, studies into the safety of CoolSculpting have found that complications are rare, and in most cases, resolve with time.

Okay. So what’s the pain factor?

The bulk of the treatment isn’t too painful. It’s not comfortable, but it’s not agony.

A gel pad and an applicator will be strapped to your chosen area (I picked my arms for this test run), which will then cool your squishy bits down to -11 degrees. As it turns out, fat is more temperature-sensitive than your skin, meaning fat experiences cell death before your skin does.

You’ll have to keep these pads on for about 30 minutes, and while it’s a bit uncomfortable, it’s perfectly manageable. I chose to treat my arms one at a time (rather than both at once), which definitely helped with the pain factor. Also bonus: I kept one hand free to use my phone.

Now here’s where it gets… tougher. After your pads are removed, your therapist will ‘massage’ the treated area. I put ‘massage’ in inverted commas because it feels more like your flesh is being pulverised from the inside. Okay, maybe that’s dramatic, but it hurts like billy-o. (Does anyone aside from my dad use that phrase? Anyone? Okay, moving on.)

Unfortunately, it’s a crucial step in the CoolSculpting process, but luckily it only lasts two minutes. I had a few quiet moments of “oh god oh god what have I done” rattling around in my brain, but after that, fine! Your treatment area might feel numb for a couple weeks after that, but it’s otherwise pain free.

How long does it take to work?

12 weeks, baby. Technically, you’ll see results after two to six months, with your body continuing to remove the destroyed fat cells for up to four to six months, but since my final photos were taken at 12 weeks, that’s what I’m going with!

Some people might need (or want!) more than one treatment, so that’s another 12 weeks. It’s also worth noting that you can actually swell up a little bit in the week or two after treatment, so if you’re planning it for a big event, plan a few months earlier, ya know?

Can I see a CoolSculpting before and after?

Oh, go on, then. Here’s mine:

coolsculpting before and after

Worked. A. Treat.

It’s a minor change, for sure, but it’s not nothing and it’s also NOT minor to me.

How much does it cost?

It’s not cheap. (And full disclosure, LCA comped my procedure.)

The cost will depend on where you get the treatment, how many treatments you need, and how many applicator pads you need. (I had two pads on each arm.)

One chin treatment will set you back $650, for example. But here’s a pro-tip: keep an eye on LCA’s sales, because if they do one for CoolSculpting, then you’ve got yourself a bargain.

Anything else I need to know?

Yes! Wear long clothing, so you don’t have to get home with visible permanent marker circles all over your body. Learn from my mistakes: I wore a singlet to the appointment. That was an awkward walk home.

It’s also a good idea if you take it easy the night before and have something to eat before your treatment. You might feel a bit delicate afterwards. I did, at least. Plan something chill like eating a pizza while watching Netflix for afterwards.

It might not be for everyone, but I can honestly say I have zero regrets about the treatment… and I’m already saving up for the next one. Head to LCA’s website if you want to find out more.