What happens when you freeze your fat? That’s the question Refinery29’s Megan McIntyre set out to answer in her July 24 story about the non-surgical procedure CoolSculpting. Hundreds of RealSelf members have tried it for themselves, so we asked how their experiences aligned with McIntyre’s. Here’s what they said.

“It Hurt Like a Mother”

People were split when we asked just how much it hurt. A slight majority of respondents said the process wasn’t all that bad; 23 percent of votes fell on the “not painful” side of the spectrum. But 27 percent disagreed and cast their vote for “painful,” with 7 percent saying it was extremely so. Unfortunately, McIntyre seems to have been in that minority; she said the process “hurt like a mother.”

Does Freezing Your Fat Hurt?

The More Treatments, the Better

The more treatments someone had, the greater the chance they were happy with the results. People who had three sessions ranked as the most pleased; 52 percent felt “satisfied” with their results. People who had more than one round were also more likely to go back. Sixty-two percent of people who had three rounds of CoolSculpting said they’d go again, and 59 percent who had four or more said the same.

Can You Actually Freeze Away Your Fat?

What Happens to the Fat?

McIntyre wondered about that, too. As she wrote, “everyone’s still a bit unclear” on what happens to the frozen fat. RealSelf doctors are divided on the issue, and CoolSculpting’s manufacturer, Zeltiq, equates the fat removal to the same bodily process that breaks down fat in food. Whatever happens, it’s not a major concern of people looking to have it done; their #1 worry is that they won’t get the results they want.

Who’s Getting CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting’s still a new technology; the FDA approved if for belly fat just three years ago and for the inner thighs last year. That means even people who’ve done it are still new to it. Of the RealSelf members we surveyed, 39 percent said they’d only had one treatment, 27 percent said they’d had two, 12 percent said three, and 21 percent said four or more. (If you’re curious why those percentages don’t quite add up to 100, one woman forgot how many treatments she’d had.)

As for who these people are, 93 percent were female and 7 percent male. They tended to be between the ages of 45 to 54 (34 percent of respondents) or 35 to 44 (26 percent). Only 16 percent of respondents were younger than 34.

Interested in learning more about any of these procedures? Ask a doctor