5 min


We attended an info session and cocktail party for the futuristic procedure

Shantelle demonstrates CoolSculpting procedures on Stan. Credit: Rolyn Chambers

Some days you just want to lie back, strip off your jeans and get the fat frozen out of you. No? It may sound like science fiction, but according to New You, an all-encompassing anti-aging and beautification spa that does everything from teeth whitening to Botox, CoolSculpting, a new procedure designed to get rid of “stubborn” fat in problem areas, does exactly that. I decide to investigate. To separate the science from the fiction. As best as I can.

As my friend and I take the elevator up to the 64th-floor suite of the private residences at the Shangri-La Hotel, where the New You head offices are located, we tell ourselves, our gorgeously thin selves, to have an open mind. Actually, we’ve come with open mouths. They’ve promised an open bar and nibbles. And we’re hungry.

The pristine white suite of New You is buzzing with well-dressed guests browsing brochures, sipping drinks on white leather sofas and admiring the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook downtown Toronto and the lake. Leading the presentation is Shantelle Koonar, a brunette in a skintight black mini-dress and heels as high as her derriere. Originally from New York, she recently moved to Toronto to help launch the procedure in New You’s Toronto locations, which include a brand-new spa now open in Yorkville.

“I had the procedure first done about two years ago. And then again about a year ago,” she says. “I would never, ever purchase a machine without trying it myself. There are about three other systems within this price range, but this was the one that worked the best. My mom also tried it.”

It may not be apple pie, but if it’s good enough for Mom . . .

“Unlike other treatments, you don’t need to take any pills, eat any certain foods or drink a certain amount of water. It just really, really works.”

Yeah, but what does it do?

“The CoolSculpting machine targets 30 percent of the fat cells in a designated area and then freezes it.”

Yeah, but then what?

“The body simply absorbs and gets rid of the frozen fat cells.”

Yeah, but how?

“Through your immune system.”

Yeah, but how?

“Through the lymph nodes.”

Hmmmm . . .

“There are no side effects. But you have to be the right candidate.”

Who is that?

“We do a consultation beforehand. It’s for people who have a bulge or muffin-top. Someone who has problem areas. Most people do two treatments on multiple areas.”

So, someone like Rob Ford?

“He would need many treatments.”

How long does it take?

“It takes about an hour per procedure, so you can lie back and read a book or work on your iPad.”

Or cruise skinny guys on Grindr.

How much does it cost?

“Around $750 an area.”

With discounts and package deals, each procedure comes to about $750. But a single procedure can cost up to $1,000. So it may cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 to get rid of your love handles.

“It’s FDA approved for the flanks and the lower abdomen.”

Is it Health Canada approved?

“I only just found out what that meant recently.”

Hmmmm . . .

“Is it okay on the arms?” someone asks.

“Yes, sure.”

But as Shantelle stated earlier, it’s FDA approved only for the flanks and lower abdomen, so if you want to get it done there, it seems like they’ll do it, but you’ll be taking your chances.

Bruising? Side effects?

“Well, if you’re a bruiser, then there may be a bit of bruising. Typically it will last two to three days only.”

A few questions are asked one too many times, and you can tell Shantelle is getting irritated. Pay attention, people. This isn’t a cocktail party . . . yet. Sipping our recently freshened champagne, we watch on a large-screen TV as Stan, a robust man, lies on a white leather massage-like table. He’s shirtless and has what looks like a plastic square pump attached to his midsection. This is a different type of rub and tug. Shantelle explains that we are watching a live procedure taking place in the adjoining room. Let’s go!  A play is so much better than a movie. As we sneak over to the next room, the Veuve Clicquot kicks in and I start to hope that Stan will sing. A musical would be even better. But he doesn’t. Stan does, however, go on to explain a bit about his large self and why he’s now lying here shirtless and exposed.

“I heard about this procedure through friends,” he says, with some European accent. “And they’re not charging me for this.”

The device attached to one side of Stan’s hated love handles is a small rectangular box with a hose coming out of it that flows into a larger machine. His stomach is marked with small black lines, all operation-like, to ensure proper placement of the cooling, fat-killing machine. Proper placement is ensured after a consultation during which the potential patient is viewed sitting and standing. Very scientific.

It seems to me that the area being targeted by the 10-by-20-centimetre wonder machine seems kind of small (especially if only 30 percent of that is reduced). Multiple treatments would be needed to properly treat Stan (as stated in New You’s brochure), so the actual cost to work out his love handles and stomach will be be way more than $1,500. Perhaps more like $5,000. How much is gym membership again?

The procedure was developed by Harvard scientists Dieter Manstein and R Rox Anderson, “who noticed that some children got dimples when eating popsicles.” But don’t the dimples then disappear? (And if you eat too many popsicles without brushing, can’t you get cavities?)

According to Stan, the procedure felt cool at first, but now, 30 minutes into his one-hour treatment, he doesn’t feel much of anything.

A week later I chat with Stan.

“I definitely notice a decrease in the size of my left side,” he says. “If you touch it, there is a bit of discomfort but not much.”

I choose not to touch. But visually, it does look smaller. And lop-sided, since he’s done only one side. He is still waiting for round two. Maybe three, four or many more.

And . . . the name itself, CoolSculpting, sounds odd. I’m also not sure exactly how much sculpting can really be done. It isn’t like fat is a block of chunky ice that you can carve into Michelangelo’s ab-gifted David. I would think you might have to work out a bit after to get the shape you want. But then again, I’m not all that scientific. I’m just lucky to have good genes. Diesel. Size 32.