'Jesus, my eyes!' / 'What...just...What? Why are you sending us this? What have I done wrong?' / 'I can't work out what it is I'm looking at here. I'm pretty sure I don't want to know.' These aren't the most flattering reactions I've ever had from sending a selfie to a WhatsApp group. But the first rule of Skin Clinic seems to be 'don't take selfies at Skin Clinic.' And you can guess the second rule.
Maybe I shouldn't have sent my friends photos of myself mid-way through having my fat frozen (officially called cryolipolysis), when I looked like a cow with freakishly large udders being milked. (Although screw that, it was funny.)
When I was offered the chance to try cryolipolysis at the skin clinic co-owned by The Apprentice's Leah Totton and Lord Sugar, I initially had visions of myself looking less like a cow, and more like Gigi Hadid. The procedure promises to reduce stubborn fat pockets - think tummy rolls, saddlebags and even double chins - by around 10-30% per session.
I eventually plumped (lol) to have my upper and lower abdomen treated, where the fat that sits there laughs in the face of planks, crunches, and the TV-watching I do instead of either of those things.
SIDE-EFFECTS INCLUDE 'FREEZER BURN' IF I TRY TO WARM MYSELF UP TOO QUICKLY POST-PROCEDURE
Back when I was at my fitness peak, the fat in those areas wouldn't budge. And now that I'm in a fitness trough - one filled with delicious pizza and ice cream - those problem areas are even more glaringly problematic. An issue brought grossly to life as I watch said fat being sucked into two giant vacuum attachments that are, cruelly, see-through. Which means I've got a front-row seat at a horror show no-one in the world would buy tickets for.
Before the (very lovely) clinician begins my treatment, I'm taken through an assessment that includes warnings of the possible side effects. These are minor (redness, bruising), but include the risk of 'freezer burn' if I try to warm myself up too quickly post-procedure. "Some people aren't keen on being cold, so they use a hairdryer to try and warm the treated area up faster. Just... Don't," I'm warned. Noted.
Then, after signing the requisite waivers, I'm hooked up to the machine. It's pretty chilly in there, but doesn't hurt.
"You're braver than I am," Leah tells me when she pops her head round the door to say hello. "I've had it done, and thought it was quite painful." Seeing as it involves cooling your skin (and fat) to around 4 degrees Celsius, I'm not surprised people with less amazing pain thresholds than mine can find it a bit uncomfortable.
But as I spend the next 45 minutes taking photos and sending them to my revolted friends, I'm perfectly happy. Afterwards, my skin's chilly, but the fat underneath isn't frozen solid, as used to happen with older versions of cryolipolysis.
By the time I get home, clutching instructions to drink at least 3-4 litres of water a day and to hit the gym to flush the dead fat cells through my lymphatic system, I'm back to normal. Although a bit worried about how I'll make it through my daily commute without wetting myself.
Whether it works is another matter – it takes four months for the effects to kick in, after which I'll be back at the clinic for a set of 'after' photos. Which I'm hoping are a bit more flattering than the 'before' ones. Watch this space...