Debra Messing is part of the star-studded cast in the forthcoming ABC-remake of "Dirty Dancing." But as Baby's mom, the actress won't have to prance around in a leotard — and that's a good thing, because the 48-year-old has recently sworn off all kinds of squeezing, irksome shapewear.
"You know, the kind of undergarments that make you feel like you're a sausage and make you really uncomfortable and that remind you need smoothing out," she says, laughing.
Most of us have come to give daily thanks to the belly-smoothing shapewear that helps bolster our confidence in a tight dress at work or for a night out, but the "Will & Grace" alum has a different, less constricting approach to scoring that smooth look: The actress swears by CoolSculpting, a non-surgical treatment that uses controlled cooling to zap unwanted fat cells.
Skeptical? Yep, we were too. So we decided to investigate.
What Is CoolSculpting?
Approved by the FDA in 2010, CoolSculpting identifies itself as a "body contouring" system, meaning the treatment can smooth you out without invasive surgery. It's meant for small changes, like mild cellulite, not major fat removal like liposuction. In fact, Messing equates the ease of her single 35-minute session to having a facial.
"I go into a facial and they work on my skin, and when I walk out, I feel more confident and a little more beautiful," she says. "But the difference is facials don't last very long."
CoolSculpting involves moving a vacuum cup over the skin and applying cryolipolysis, also known as "fat freezing." Cryolipolysis utilizes cold temperatures to trigger the death of certain cells called adipocytes that specialize in storing fat. The treatment takes about 35 minutes and can be applied to your upper arms, bra, back, neck, thighs, abdomen, and butt. You don't see changes immediately (Messing had her treatment six weeks ago), but rather over the following three months as the inflammation-fighting process sets in.
Does It Work?
Well, it was developed by a researcher from Harvard and is currently the only FDA-approved cold-based, non-surgical body contouring treatment — so those are definitely two pros in our book.
Plus, there is actually a bit of research to back the process up. A June 2014 study in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology found that in patients who underwent a cryolipolysis treatment, 86 percent saw improvements.
Similarly, a June 2015 study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery concluded that cryolipolysis offered a "compelling alternative to liposuction and other, more invasive methods." (Although it's worth noting one of the five researchers is a consultant for CoolSculpting's parent company.)
A few of the participants in the June 2014 study did report temporary side effects, including erythema (reddening of the skin), bruises, and transient numbness, but these all resolved within 14 days of treatment. And another study published in August 2013 in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that, among 528 patients who got cryolipolysis treatment, three also experienced the side effect of mild to moderate nerve pain, but they all resolved within four days of treatment.
Overall, these researchers deemed the procedure not only safe and effective, but delivering an overall high patient satisfaction rate.
And in fact, the June 2014 study authors (who stated they had no conflicting interests in the disclaimers) went so far as to say, "Although no procedure has been accepted as the gold standard for noninvasive body contouring as yet, cryolipolysis is considered to be both safe and efficient with a high patient satisfaction rate."
Who Should Use It?
CoolSculpting is marketed as a non-surgical alternative to liposuction, but it isn't for people who are obese. Instead, it's targeted at people who have "noticeable bulges in certain areas they'd like to get rid of," as its website states.
Messing got the treatment to tackle that all-too-familiar (and natural!) post-baby belly. "I had a baby [her son, Roman Walker Zelman, turns 13 this week], and parts of my body were a little lumpy — not as smooth as I like it to be — and this addressed that exact thing," she says.
Messing notes that even though she's always on-the-go and eats "really clean," this procedure helped to eliminate the bulges that diet and exercise couldn't diminish.
"The thing that I responded to in terms of this technology and the whole message behind it is that it's not about becoming perfect and it's not about trying to completely change who you are," Messing explains. "This is about liking exactly who you are and just making a slightly better version of yourself."