Pressing the Flesh: New Treatments Promise to Melt Excess Fat Like Butter

Sandra Ballentine, W Mag

April 22, 2016

“I became determined to lose the bacchanalia-related bulges. Diet, exercise, exorcism—nothing worked. I was about to resign myself to a life of Lycra when a friend tipped me off to the Manhattan-based body whisperer Jeannel Astarita.

“Having curves isn’t a bad thing,” says Astarita, a former interior designer. “It’s about creating the best proportions.” She does this with a highly customized cocktail of the latest contouring technology, like CoolSculpting (a fat-freezing procedure that is the mack daddy of noninvasive fat removal), and BTL Vanquish ME (which destroys fat cells over broad areas via carefully controlled heat). She also sprinkles in BTL Exilis Elite (a radio frequency treatment designed to reduce fat and tighten skin), ZWave Pro (a small “acoustic shock therapy” device that helps flush out dead fat cells), and Futura Fit (a machine that aims to tone muscles with ultrasound energy and electrical current). And like a lot of people in the business, she’s intrigued by SculpSure, a new fat-melting laser that’s being touted as a game changer.

No matter the approach, you will surely need multiple sessions, which can be tedious, not to mention expensive. But for the squeamish, it’s still a more appealing option than liposuction. The machines are not, however, one size fits all. During my consultation with Astarita, she declared my fat too firm for CoolSculpting, which is more effective on pinchable fat. (I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or annoyed by this news.) “I think you’re more of a Vanquish girl,” she said. And, sure enough, after five 45-minute sessions (which felt kind of like being microwaved without actually being cooked), any skepticism I might have had melted away along with some of that firm fat. My abs looked slightly more defined, and my flanks a tad trimmer. I could even button my favorite jeans again.

Of course, not everyone is convinced. “You can burn only so much garbage in your backyard before you have to cart it out,” says the New York cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank. “I do a lot of SmartLipo Triplex,” he says, referring to a form of laser lipo that melts fat and tightens skin. “I’m the person to see for those extra 10 to 15 pounds. I’m for areas that are resistant to diet and exercise, not people who are resistant to diet and exercise.”

Still, at least until I get over my lipophobia, I’m sticking with Astarita. Always available for a pep talk or text, she keeps clients on track with nutrition and fitness advice. She cautions, however, that the relationship has to be a partnership. “If we don’t work together, it won’t work.” I silently swear to never eat frites again.

Unless, of course, I’m in Paris.”