Melissa Todd: ‘My figure confuses people’

Goodbye to the pot belly

Who wouldn’t want their fat frozen off, eh? What a dream, what a coup! Alright, only a tiny bit of fat (around 30% of the already quite tiny area you choose), but all the same, huzzah for science!

I have a belly. I became anorexic in my teens, dropped below 6 stone, and still had a belly. I became an aerobics instructor, taught five classes a day, and still the belly budged not. I was a fat child, and there’s some research to suggest the fat cells you lay down as a child just won’t shift, no matter what you do. I’m a good weight for my height now – 5 ft 7, 10 stone, with lean, shapely arms and legs, and a gut that looks five months pregnant. It’s grotesquely disproportionate to the rest of me, so much so that I’m very regularly asked when I’m due. “Oh, I’m not pregnant, just fat!” I trill merrily, but the truth is I’m not fat anywhere else, which is I why my figure easily confuses people.

I’m not pregnant, I’m not fat, I’m just unlucky. Not unlucky like a Syrian refugee, I admit, or indeed 95% of the world’s population, but still, it bothers me, clothes won’t hang right, and since the technology exists, I shall damn well make use of it.

The clinic I choose is not well thought of locally. (“You’re going where? Are you nuts?” my beautician says. “For Gawd’s sake, take a friend!”). The doctor who runs it was struck off for prescribing illegal slimming pills. Well, that’s no crime in my book: surely the world would turn a lot more efficiently if the chubby among us were forever speeding off their gazungas. But it does mean he’s had to diversify substantially to make a living.

The day I visited, the waiting room was packed with chubby middle aged men, most glumly clutching pots of urine; hardly what you expect at a beauty parlour. It transpired they were receiving medical certificates to allow them to acquire HGV licenses.The doctor barked “Next!”, brusquely and regularly, from a cupboard under the stairs. My appointment had to wait, the receptionist needing to rush out to buy a new blood pressure monitor, someone’s chubby arm having broken the first. Finally, I was seen.

“You are good candidate”, said the therapist, scraping up handfuls of my lardy self between her manicured fingers. “Not fat, but here problem.” She was Polish, with a slight Northern Irish lilt. She took her time drawing on my gut, then lay me down and came at me with a space age sucking device.

I had read this would hurt. It didn’t hurt. I found it quite pleasant, in fact. A little cold at first, and the room wasn’t too warm either: it was chilly outside, and lying still for three hours with my clothes off wasn’t a whole lot of fun. A freezing cold damp paper pad was applied to my stomach, then the machine was clamped upon it. A great fold of fat was sucked up within its cavernous mouth, which then began to chew at it delicately.

The therapist was immensely pleased at how much lard was being devoured, which in turn pleased me. I read, listened to the radio and dreamt about bikinis. The time whizzed past. When she removed the device my stomach had been frozen solid into a huge, hard, red peak. It was extraordinary. I entertained brief fantasies of hacking it off on the spot. All that fat, in one handy, numb lump! Instead she massaged it back to something approaching normality – still red, but more obviously part of me. Still it didn’t hurt. It felt a bit numb and tingly, that was all, and the redness faded in a couple of hours.

I’m writing this ten days later, and my tummy still feels a bit odd – a little painful and tingly to the touch, slightly numb still. Apparently that’s normal, and might take up to three months to fade. The dreadful pains I was warned about still haven’t materialised.I’m almost disappointed – I rather wanted to prove my commitment to my new, lean self by suffering untold agonies. There has been no change to my pot belly yet.

You should start to see some change about three weeks afterwards, they say, and the process should be completed by three months. It’s no quick fix, but then, I’ve waited decades. Patience I can do. There have been a few unmentionable, well documented side effects.

It cost £800. If it works, I would cheerfully have paid ten times that, and indeed I might go back and have another go at my problem spot sometime. If it works, maybe there’ll even be pictures for the follow up column. And if it doesn’t work – well, it made for an interesting day out, and I’ll start saving again for lipo.

Either way, me and this belly are parting company.