Nowadays, it's like a bad '90s sci-fi movie when you walk into a spa.
Every imperfection you have can be fixed with lasers. There's laser hair removal, laser scar reduction, laser fungus removal and even laser beam eye installments.
OK, that last one isn't real, but I would totally get that done. Imagine all the catcallers I could scare off with the bat of an eye.
But, my most recent experience with futuristic spa treatments is laser fat reduction.
Why I tried it
Everyone has an addiction at some point, and from 2012 to 2014, mine was Groupon. I was the modern-day crazy coupon lady.
At the time, I was buying a spa treatment for just about anything, so when laser fat removal, Zerona, popped up as a suggestion, I immediately clicked on it.
Also, I was particularly insecure in that moment because I felt a little cushy from the holidays, and trips to the gym were inconsistent.
But before buying it, I read a few reviews about Zerona.
It was mixed, but Dr. Oz said it was a "miracle" procedure, so that seemed promising. This was before he was called out for peddling products that haven't been proven to work, and I still did my own research and read up on the science of how the laser worked.
The Zerona website has a really long, scientific explanation, so I've narrowed it down a little.
Simply put, the Zerona laser slowly punctures fat cells until they shrink. The cells themselves aren't removed; they just get smaller.
Then, your body clears out the fatty acids, glycerol and water, which is released from the cells into your interstitial fluid, through the lymphatic system.
I had a B in high school science, which doesn't say much, but this looked legit enough to me.
So, I decided it was worth trying, even though that money might have been better spent on way more valuable things like yoga classes.
The Groupon was $200 for six treatments, making it more than half the price of the original $480 that you would buy directly from the spa.
Basically, you would be paying $480 to lie on a table while lasers swirl around your “problem areas” for an hour.
When I get to the spa, they explain to me that the six treatments I bought would barely show any results, and if I wanted big results, I should go up to 18 times.
I thought, “What? Are you telling me I have to spend $1,440 to shrink my extra skin an inch?”
And of course, there was no guarantee because “results may vary.” I politely declined buying more treatments before even going in for the first one.
She also suggested that during the next two weeks, I should try to exercise on the days I have treatments and drink lots of water because this helps the contents of the fat cells pass through the body quicker.
That seemed reasonable.
The woman led me into a small room with calming music, told me to strip down to my undies and lie down.
Then, she started pushing this weird octopus-looking machine to hover over my body.
She explained I could take this time to meditate or talk on the phone, but I shouldn't move my body or touch the lasers because she was strategically placing them to hit my problem areas.
She dimmed the lights and left, and then I was lying on my back for 20 minutes going back and forth on whether or not I should post a picture of it and convince people I'm half robot.
Suddenly, the machine turned off. She came back into the room told me to turn over, moved the arms a bit more, turned on the machine and left again for another 20 minutes.
This time I fell asleep because that's usually what happens when I don't move for five minutes. I woke up to her opening the door and turning the lights back on.
That was just the beginning because I had to make two more appointments for the first week and set up my three appointments for the following week because each treatment had to be done within 72 hours of each other.
After every visit, the technician would point at my "problem areas" and try to convince me to buy other types of treatments.
This was the most humiliating part of the process, and it made me feel really uncomfortable.
But, this experience is only a reflection of this particular spa and its employees.
How it felt
I had a little tingling sensation on my legs when the lasers were swirling around, and my stomach started gurgling a bit afterward.
The website says you shouldn't feel much, but since your fat cells are shrinking and their contents are leaving your body, you may feel a little light-headed or tired if you don't drink enough water before having the procedure.
After the treatment was over, they told me to wait a week or so as the content of the fat cells cleared away before comparing my "before and after."
I'll admit I saw a slight difference in my thighs and belly pouch. I had to put into consideration that I was working out after each visit — three days for two weeks — and continued to afterward.
If anything, it got me back into a routine, which is great, but that makes it harder for me to determine whether it was my habits changing or the lasers that caused the results.
Results are small, especially for anyone looking to lose a few pounds.
Even the people who endorse the treatment say it's not for major weight loss, but for minimal fat reduction.
It's really only targeting extra fat deposits.
Having to make appointments and knowing I spent a good amount of money on them forced me to commit to working out and drinking water, so that was great.
On the other hand, in two weeks, I spent 240 minutes lying on a table!
That time could have been better spent planning and cooking healthy meals, running on the treadmill or learning the dance routine to "Thriller."
If you want to spend thousands of dollars to get some alone time while feeling like a science project, this might be for you.
If you want to lose weight and reach healthy, long-term fitness goals, I suggest testing out a few techniques to help yourself commit to working out three to four times a week.