My mom was utterly silent on the phone. It was unnatural.
“You're getting what?" she finally answered.
I sighed exasperatedly.
“Lipo. It's lipo."
She made a noise as if she were about to say something, but I cut her off.
“It's totally noninvasive,” I promised. “It's done with a laser. They're not cutting into anything. I won't feel it."
We'd spent the last 20 minutes yelling about how I should just exercise and stop eating Pizza Pringles if I really wanted to shed a couple of pounds. To my mom, doing something because it's “cool” or because “it'll make a great story” isn't reason enough to actually go through with it.
The thing is, strawberry laser lipo actually seemed way more than just cool. Strawberry lasers are FDA-cleared and promise to be entirely painless while eliminating inches and contouring the body. They're cold lasers, which means they don't penetrate skin as deeply. As for the name, it's because the machine that performs the procedure is shaped like a strawberry. Science!
Unlike regular liposuction, the strawberry kind doesn't physically remove and kill your fat cells. Instead, the multiple low-level lasers pull the triglycerides from the fat cells, shrinking them and leaving them unharmed. Basically, it's like lipo for commitment-phobes.
At $200 and up for each treatment, it's way cheaper than Plain Jane lipo. I was offered the first session gratis, for the experience (and, potentially, for a story).
That's what I tried to explain to my mom, anyway. Like all moms, she just wasn't having it.
The next morning, I sat waiting in the immaculate reception area of MedSpa 44, a humble hideaway on the second floor of an office building in Midtown. While filling out my medical information, I met with my aesthetician, Carmen Fernandez, who talked me through the process.
First, I had to throw away my coffee. Water will be easier to flush out of my system, she explained.
Next, I was instructed to take my top off. Pro tip: Be sure to wear a sports bra or you'll be playing peek-a-boob during the last part of the procedure. Fernandez measured below my boobs, my waist, my stomach and right above my hips. If you're planning on getting the procedure, I highly recommend dousing yourself in deodorant beforehand. Otherwise, you're forcing an innocent person get up close and personal with your BO.
While you can get the treatment on just about anywhere on your body, I opted for my stomach. The treatment could have harmed the tattoos I had on my arms, I'm not too concerned about my back fat and I kind of like my thunder thighs.
As I laid down on the treatment table, Fernandez placed warm laser paddles on my stomach and two smaller probes over my lymphatic glands, at my hip area.
Then, I got sleepy and took a brief nap. I zoned out for all of 10 minutes until Fernandez came back and adjusted the laser paddles, moving them lower on my body. Apparently I carry most of my weight in my lower stomach. Who knew?
Another 10 minutes passed, and I took another rapid-fire nap. Any method of weight loss that allows me to nap is the best method ever.
Fernandez removed the paddles from my body, which was so sweaty it seemed as if I'd just run a marathon. However, I didn't feel tired or particularly overheated, just pleasantly warm.
Next, Fernandez instructed me to step on a whole-body vibration machine, which looked eerily like one of those massive scales they use at the gym. I was terrified.
She told me to bend down in a semi-squat, and hold on to the bars on either side of me. True to its name, the machine started shaking, forcing my entire body to vibrate.
“Ten minutes,” she said with a smile before closing the door. I was tired after two.
I had to stretch my legs out after every minute or so, because I was getting so exhausted. The machine was supposed to simulate exercise and I feeling the burn.
The vibrating machine, used in conjunction with the laser, is meant to help drain the lymphatic system 300 to 400 times faster than normal liposuction. It helps drain the fat melted away during the laser treatment. But, mostly, I it made me really need to pee.
By the time Fernandez came back and turned the machine off, I was panting. Seriously, when did I get so out of shape?
According to my final measurements, I'd lost a total of three-and-a-half cumulative inches around my abdomen. It might not be reason enough to buy a whole new wardrobe, but I sure felt significantly lighter. I kind of looked it, too.
The thing is, Strawberry Laser Lipo won't work if you don't exercise. It's meant to act as a kickstart to your fitness routine and help you lose those stubborn few inches, not replace exercise and eating healthy altogether.
Would I do it again? Sure. Any excuse for my jeans to fit a little bit better is reason enough for me.