Victoria Quezada is no stranger to beauty procedures. The 29-year-old from Sacramento would typically describe herself as a pretty girl who takes pride in her looks until, she said, a recent experience with a cryolipolysis machine left her “traumatized.”
The part-time bartender told BuzzFeed News that a “genetic” double chin had bothered her to the point that she sought out a way to get rid of it.
“We are our own biggest critics, we are the ones that have to look in the mirror every day, and we're the ones that decide if we're happy or we're not happy with what we see,” said Quezada.
After diet and exercise failed to make a difference, she said a worker at a local beauty spa recommended cryolipolysis treatment to her. Quezada declined to name the spa where she got the treatment.
In a TikTok that has now been viewed nearly a million times, Quezada shared what she said was the aftermath of the procedure, which uses a cryolipolysis machine to break down fat cells using freezing temperatures.
“If you have a weak stomach then please keep scrolling,” she warned viewers.
Rather than revealing a taut jawline, Quezada unveiled what she says was a three-day-old second-degree burn from the procedure, which swelled her chin and jaw area.
A legal representative for Quezada said that although the treatment is colloquially called “coolsculpting,” it’s performed with a cryolipolysis machine that has more than one manufacturer. Quezada is unsure if the machine used was supplied by the CoolSculpting brand, or another manufacturer. BuzzFeed News has contacted the CoolSculpting brand to enquire if they have seen this sort of reaction before.
She said she fully regrets getting the procedure, which is popular among celebrities and influencers, and that it had the complete opposite impact on her self-esteem than what she'd hoped for.
“I'm traumatized. I know I'm a pretty girl, and I take pride in my looks and keep up on my personal maintenance, so having this procedure done and then having it be really hard to look into a mirror it's been... Oh my gosh, my mental state has dramatically decreased I would say,” she shared.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Quezada's attorney Seth R. Bradley said she had been “severely burned” and would “likely have residual scarring at the least.”
Bradley made clear that he plans to file a lawsuit for “negligence and potentially other causes of action” against the salon.
“Ms. Quezada has already gone through a lot, and will continue to go through this nightmare so our plan is to get justice for her as well as keep this from happening to any other potential victims," he said.
Dr. Alan Matarasso, a New York City–based plastic surgeon who served as the president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, told BuzzFeed News that Quezada was in “for the long haul.”
“My concern when I looked at that picture is that some of it may be third degree, and third degree is scarring,” he said.
Matarasso explained that while procedures like fat freezing may be perceived as less invasive compared to traditional surgery, it is still considered a medical procedure, and therefore has risks associated when the process is done incorrectly.
“These treatments, whether they're injections or machines, are not interchangeable with surgery. They're not and it shouldn't be thought of like that,” said Matarasso.
“All medical procedures come with the potential for complications and you should be in a situation where it's properly done, properly monitored, and can be treated should there be a problem.”
The FDA-approved procedure is reported to be able to remove up to 25% of fat within a treatment area and is typically marketed as a perfect fix for spot targeting areas of fat, but Matarasso warns that “it's not a matter of just walking in and putting this machine on."
“It's just not a haircut, for lack of a better analogy. It has to be for a certain length of time. It has to be massaged afterward. If it was left too long or was improperly cared for, then, yeah, she's burned the skin,” he said. “That's a burn of the skin, and she's in for a long haul.”
Since her incident, Quezada said she has avoided leaving her home, only heading out for doctor’s appointments as she recovers, but all she wants to do is “to look in the mirror and be happy again.”
Her advice to anyone considering this or any sort of cosmetic procedure was that they should always be aware of the potential side effects beforehand.
“Do what you want to do to be happy, but make sure you do your research thoroughly before jumping into something that you've never tried before,” she said.
Quezada is not the first patient to seek to sue a spa for what they say was a botched fat-freezing procedure. In 2019, a Manhattan woman sued a spa and the makers of CoolSculpting after she claimed she suffered second- and third-degree burns on her stomach after the procedure.