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      Machine kills fat cells in one treatment

      A specialized machine in the office of Columbia dermatologist Dr. Kimberly Cayce kills fat cells by making them very cold.

      â??They go through a process of natural cell death called apoptosis,â?? says Cayce.

      Unlike body contouring machines like Zerona and Vanquish, the technology used here called CoolSculpting touches the skin. You need at least an inch to pinch before the machine can gather up the skin and start the cooling process. It looks a bit like a vacuum sealing machine.

      â??It is very intense suction initially,â?? describes Cayce, who has experienced the procedure. â??To some patients it almost takes your breath away and then it starts cooling.â?? She says that is followed by a little mild burning or tingling, then the area turns numb. Most people sleep, watch TV, or use electronics while having a treatment. It takes about an hour, then the paddle is removed, the skin is massaged and the process is repeated for another hour. A two-hour session starts at $1500.

      The CoolSculpting technology can be used on several different parts of the body including the abdomen, love-handles, thighs and what some women call â??bra-fat.â??

      While the fat cells die from the cold, the skin does not suffer frostbite. But, there are other side effects. After the treatment the skin is red and can bruise where the applicator is applied. Swelling can last a few days to a couple of weeks.

      â??Then the area is a little tender to touch,â?? says Cayce. She says the area is almost always temporarily numb, a side effect that can last days or weeks.

      Results come slowly as the body rids itself of the dead cells through the lymphatic system.

      The best results can be seen in two to four months. Cayce estimates people will see a 20%-25% reduction in in fat cells in the treated area.

      Comparing the three fat reduction technologies we've profiled this week, Zerona takes 12 treatments, 72 hours apart and costs $350 on sale. Vanquish requires six treatments a week apart and is sold in Columbia for $2500. CoolSculpting requires one treatment. A two-hour session costs $1500 at Cayceâ??s office.