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Zap It or Freeze It: The Truth Behind the Bizarre Weight Loss Ads

Don’t go into any drastic fat loss procedure without doing your homework

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They are hard to miss. Creeping from the sides, jiggling and wiggling for your attention, promising to vacuum, zap or chill your fat and give you a body like Giselle Bundchen without diet or exercise.

Don’t go into any drastic fat loss procedure without doing your homework
Don’t be seduced by the illusion of transformation in such newspaper ads. If you want to go for any weight loss procedure, do your homework well (Photo: The Quint)

These crudely designed web and print advertisements which claim a cream inspired by lobster hormones or a magical pill to strip calories to newer techniques that “freeze” stubborn fat, always seemed unconvincingly weird and obvious scams to me, like one of those Nigerian prince scams. But the illusion of transformation which these ads promise is tempting - personally, I am uncomfortable with any sort of unconventional way to tone the saggy tums and bouncy bums, so I decided to dig in these marketing campaigns:

Don’t Sweat It, Freeze It!

Don’t go into any drastic fat loss procedure without doing your homework
Fat freezing is the new weapon in the battle of the bulge. It has been given the green signal by the US FDA to target fat and love handles (Photo: iStock altered by The Quint)

If you can’t diet or exercise, you can freeze your fat.

The procedure is called Zeltiq and the machine it uses is called the CoolSculpting device. For starters, this is not a new procedure - it was introduced in the latter half of 2010 and approved by the US FDA in 2013.

How Does It Work?

To simplify the sciency bit, the sub-zero temperatures of the CoolSculpting device cause the fat cells to self-destruct and be re-absorbed into the body and flushed away over the next few months.

Who Can Go For It?

This treatment will show results only if you are the right candidate. Be very clear that fat freezing is no weight loss method. If you look like this (below), don’t waste your time and money on Zeltiq:

Don’t go into any drastic fat loss procedure without doing your homework
Fat freezing is not for obese or overweight people (Photo courtesy: Tumblr/pokemon)

However, if you have a little nagging pouch of fat somewhere, this technique is far less invasive and effective than liposuction.

Don’t go into any drastic fat loss procedure without doing your homework
Yup, fat freezing targets stubborn fat bumps (Photo courtesy: Tumblr/MRW)

What Exactly Happens?

The machine uses a gel patch on the target area to create suction and then uses controlled cooling to drop the temperature of the skin so that the fat cells die. Over two months, the body gets rid of these fat cells and the flab disappears.

Side-Effects

Uneven fat removal. This technique does not need a skilled expert, since the machine does all the sucking and freezing, so there is a huge risk of uneven removal. Long-term side-effects are not known since the procedure is fairly new.

Price and Pain

Costs a bomb, anywhere upwards of Rs 50,000 for a sitting at a good center in India. One session is never enough and these treatments are often sold in packages.

I’ve spoken to some people who have used it, they describe the four-hour-long procedure as “uncomfortable” but not “unbearable”.

Verdict

Till now this procedure has been deemed safe by doctors, it works on lumps and bumps but won’t make a fat person look thin. For a more dramatic result, spend money on a gym membership instead.

Diet Drugs: The Mother Of All Scams!

Long lasting dream bods take years of hard work and dedication. If a pill or a powder offers you a body like the Brazilian model in Garcinia’s ad in Rs 1500 for a month’s course - it’s a fraud.

Don’t go into any drastic fat loss procedure without doing your homework
(Photo courtesy: garciniacambogia)

Garcinia Cambogia is a pumpkin-shaped fruit and the so-called “magic pills” are made from its extract. The Federal Trade Commission in the US cracked down on these bogus ads saying there is no scientific evidence that this works and before hopping on this latest frenzy, talk to your doctor about the contents of this pill.

Sensa

Don’t go into any drastic fat loss procedure without doing your homework
(Photo courtesy: FTC)

This isn’t a diet, it’s a product that you sprinkle on your food to feel full and lose weight. According to experts, Sensa’s safety is not an issue, but the product doesn’t work and its ads have been completely misleading. Last year, the company had to cough up more than $26.5 million to the Federal Trade Commission in US for false advertising.

Sensa is still selling its products. It is one of the biggest diet scams of this decade; in US alone, the company made more than $365 million between 2008 and 2012.

Verdict

If a weight loss procedure sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So far, none of the weight-loss treatments seems to be a magic pill. Some have serious side-effects and we can’t stress more: pills and lasers are never meant to replace old-fashioned diet and exercise.

Related Read: Fat Nation- Rising Obesity Surgeries In the Land of Starvation

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