The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new, non-invasive procedure that freezes the fat cells, which die off slowly over a period of six weeks.
The procedure, known as Zeltiq, is for patients who want to shed only a few pounds.
"I've always been thin. I've never had a problem with my weight," said Barbara Knuth, a patient who had the procedure done. "And then, all of a sudden, this belly fat started to appear."
The procedure takes about an hour with no knife or anesthesia involved.
"It's like a vacuum," Knuth said. "But once it's been on for a couple of minutes, you really don't feel anything."
"It's incredibly popular," said Dr. Debrea Jaliman, who performs the procedure. "First of all, when people first hear about it, they think it's too good to be true. They can't even believe it."
"It's a gradual change because it went over about six weeks," Knuth added. "And I kept on looking and looking and said, 'I don't see anything. I don't see anything.' But you're not going to see anything, because you're seeing yourself every day. It wasn't till I saw the pictures, that I realized how much belly fat was gone."
Dr. Rox Anderson invented Zeltiq after noticing infants who sucked on popsicles too long lost the fat in their cheeks, and also after observing that butter fat freezes more quickly than skin.
"So people who are in good shape, who have a healthy diet, they're exercising and they have body fat distributions and are still not happy with the results. They are the ideal candidates for this," Anderson said.
The price for the fat-freezing procedure runs around $750.
* Originally published Feb.10, 2011.