I Tried A Fat-Melting Treatment And It Was Awful, But It Did Make Me Rethink My Relationship With My Thighs

I have never been set on fire, but I imagine that pain to be slightly less than what I felt immediately.
Publish date:
December 6, 2013
body acceptance, thighs, cellulite

I have a hook-up at an aesthetic medical spa and I also have an ongoing hate-hate relationship with my thighs, so when I heard that the medspa was considering purchasing a “fat melting” machine and needed volunteers to try it out gratis, I leapt at the chance. The machine had been through tests already, of course, since it was now commercially available for use, but the facility had to see it in action.

First, I had to have my thighs evaluated by the rep for the company. He had happened to drop by the medspa on a day that I was there, so, without having mentally prepared for such a horror and with no regard for what panties I was wearing that day, I dropped trou in a treatment room so that he could poke and prod at my meaty thighs.

With the exception of anyone who catches a glimpse as I change in the gym locker room, exactly one person has seen me bottomless in over two years and it isn’t something I take lightly. But I told myself that if this is what it takes to end up on a table with my fat being melted, then Mike, the company’s rep, can pinch and measure all the livelong day.

The first thing he said was that my thighs are “not nearly as big” as I seem to think they are. Fine. I am making some major strides on the long road to body acceptance but I admit that I’m still struggling with accepting the particular girth of the flesh surrounding my femurs. Sweet thing for Mike to say and, yes, he’s probably right and WHATEVER DUDE GET ON WITH THE MELTING ALREADY!

I was, in fact, a good candidate, having “a good amount” of “dissolvable mass” but also “not too much.” For the uninitiated, therein lies the rub of many available weight loss alternatives; one can easily be deemed a poor candidate for being too large. Nice to know that people seeking certain procedures can not only NOT get them, but are also handed a giant “fuck you” for even trying sometimes. But my big-but-not-too-big-and-also-not-as-big-as-I-think-they-are-but-definitely-fat-melting-machine-worthy thighs had cleared phase one of the process. Yay! I was told to come back the next day when the machine would be there and they’d start the trial sessions.

I got a brochure on the specific machine and I got to Googling and saw lots of gross pictures of pig flesh with reduced fatty layers. “Before” and “After” comparisons certainly showed improvement, but can they really be trusted? Who knows?

I also learned that the treatment should be done a minimum of 4-6 times, ideally with a week in between sessions. I didn’t know if I would have the opportunity beyond my initial appointment, but I was all in even if it was just the one session.

On Fat Melting Day, I could hardly contain my excitement. When I got there, I saw the person who had gone in before me heading out the door. I asked her how it had gone and she didn’t say anything. Not a good sign. I assumed she didn’t hear me, so I asked again. She looked down at the floor and just shook her head solemnly.

The thought crossed my mind that something terribly untoward had gone on in the room, but she was gone before I could inquire further. Then it was my turn.

I was still excited, but suddenly also very concerned that in about an hour I, too, would be shuffling out the door, somehow stricken speechless and unable to make eye contact. I had to consent to being photographed (!) and I barely managed to act my age and not freak the eff out as Mike took extreme close-ups of my thighs from every angle.

Mike was very professional and made polite conversation, which I appreciated as I climbed onto the table in my panties and a T-shirt. The first thing he did was apply an electricity conductor pad to my butt. It needs a fleshy area to adhere to, and my body happily provides that there. I was having my inner thighs treated, so I bent my legs in such a way as to give him access and he applied the tool, which looked like an old-school phone receiver, and pressed some buttons on the large machine it was connected to.

I have never been set on fire, but I imagine that pain to be slightly less than what I felt immediately. It was a pain like nothing I can recall, and I’ve had an ACL tear, foot surgeries, twisted ankles, a slipped disc in my back -- not to brag, but I know from pain.

I also have a pretty high tolerance for pain, which is why I was all the more shocked that I was in such immediate agony. I lost all sense of decorum and shouted, “Son of a BITCH!” and Mike picked the wand up off of my thigh.

“Are you OK?”

“NO!!! Is it supposed to burn this much?”

“There is some discomfort, yes.”

“Some discomfort.” Not in the loosest use of language could this feeling be described as “some discomfort.” And the best part is that Mike said the wand shouldn’t lose contact with my skin once we’ve started or it would compromise my results, so I had to choose right then -- was I in or out? He seemed to switch into crisis mode, suggesting I “just see how much I can tolerate.”

I was in. Mike told me to tell him when it became unbearable, at which point he would push a different button on the machine and I’d feel a cool blast for a few seconds. Nice of the machine’s inventor to throw that feature on the Device of BurningFirePain.

Logic soothes me, so I simply reminded myself that A) I had chosen to be here doing this and could also stop it and leave if I chose, and B) if this thing is really penetrating my flesh to melt my fat, it’s gonna burn. Once I accepted those truths, I went to a special place in my brain. The place where Tyler Durden won’t let himself go in Fight Club, the place of polar bears and penguins in cool igloos and happy little trees to take my mind off of my burning leg meat. And not only did it burn, but it required pressure to work, so Mike was leaning into me and pressing on the wand with all of his sturdy adult male weight. Pain on pain on pain.

After a few minutes spent suppressing my body’s very basic urge to vomit from the hurting happening, I did kind of zone out. Words weren’t coming easily so I would point at my leg when I wanted a cool blast and then try to return to the happy place. I was able to make it through the entire 30 minutes for the first leg, and of course I considered just skipping the other leg and getting the hell out of there. But no, I figured I should at least try, on the off chance that it works -- I wouldn’t want to be uneven, right?

Afterward, as I stared at my inner thighs glowing red like a branding iron, Mike triumphantly told me that I was the first person he’d been able to successfully treat all day. Apparently no one else had been able to take the pain, and now I had a better idea of what might have gone on with the woman before me. Mike declared me his champion and said I was the best kind of patient because I’m “highly motivated.”

That phrase really struck me -- like people who don’t subject themselves to this kind of torture for thinner thighs are somehow not highly motivated? Also, in a world rife with actual, non-voluntary suffering, I’m not sure I should be praised for choosing cosmetically motivated torture. Maybe I’m just “highly crazy.”

Or maybe it comes down to access. I happened to have had access to this, free of charge, and I made a choice to do it and see it through. This treatment is available for roughly $500 a session, as are many other treatments with devices most people have not heard of that are happening behind closed doors in Beverly Hills (where I was) and other chic zip codes every day.

You just never know what lengths someone has gone to or how much burning of their flesh they’ve tolerated to look a certain way, so I urge us all, myself included, to stop comparing our bodies to those of others. Especially the proverbial rich and famous. Let’s do better for ourselves.

I didn't end up having a second treatment, and I actually do think I would have seen a small result if I could have had the full course. But literally no one else could take the pain, so the medspa ended up not buying the machine and I can’t afford to pay to go somewhere. Even if I did have that kind of money, I can think of lots of better uses for it so I’d probably stick to taking an awesome spin class whenever I can manage it.

I’m grateful for my fat-melting experience. It took something that physically painful to help me turn the volume down another notch on the emotional pain I inflict on myself every time I bash my body. I’ve still got a long ways to go to reach body acceptance, but this was another step. Step by step, right?

I tweet about my thighs (and other things): @PiaGlenn.