Pimp My Bod

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I think that is crazy. Although this is just a hypothetical surgery situation, I can't imagine anyone agreeing to pay for surgery before they even get to meet the doctor.

I leave the office knowing two things for sure. One: I will never, ever get implants, if only for the sheer fact that I look bizarre with big boobs. Two: I want my dignity back.

Unfortunately, I've got much lower to go.

A couple of days later, I pull up outside the Fig Center, again in north Scottsdale. I am here to learn how injecting a soy-based protein into my thighs can dissolve fat. The Fig Center is the only place in town that offers the treatment. Since it came out in 2005, Lipodissolve has been marketed as a way to slim down without surgery or dieting. The compound is injected into the chosen area, where it absorbs the fat cells, breaks them down, and then gets rid of them like normal human waste.

It sounds too good to be true.

It kind of is. First, the compound is not FDA-approved, and some surgeons argue that without proper clinical trials there's no way to prove that it works. Lipodissolve's creators say there's no reason to assume it's unsafe. After all, it's been available for more than a decade in Europe.

Enticed by the free consultation, I decided to pay a visit and find out for myself. At the clinic, I meet with a nurse who looks like pre-surgery Cher. I like her immediately because of that and because of the fact that when she weighs me, she informs me I am an "excellent weight."

We go into a consultation room and I'm relieved when no one asks me to change into embarrassing paper clothing. No body parts will be exposed today. No pictures taken. I like it here.

"Cher" asks me what I want done and I tell her I'd like to have thinner thighs. I'm sad to find out I can get the injections only in the inner and outer sides of my thighs, not in the back (where I think they really need it) because there's a risk they'd inject muscle and not fat.

For a second, I'm a little disappointed until I remember I'm not actually going through with the procedure.

She gives me the rundown about how it works and what I can realistically expect. She explains that there are side effects. Mostly, there's a lot of swelling for "three to four days" following the injections.

One surgeon I spoke to, who doesn't perform Lipodissolve, says the swelling lasts much longer than that.

After we run through the side effects, "Cher" drops a bombshell on me: The procedure usually takes about nine treatments to see results. Each treatment consists of 14 "micro-shots" into the area. That's 126 injections. And about 18 weeks of pain (the shots are administered every two weeks).

I learn something else unsettling. The doctor listed on the Web site as the person in charge isn't the one who actually does the injections. He's simply the medical director who stops by a few times a week; nurses and physician's assistants administer the shots.

I guess this doesn't bother many people because the center treats about 100 to 125 people per day.

She informs me that the procedure works so well because we have only a certain number of fat cells in our bodies. The number never increases. She goes on to talk about something else, but I miss it. I'm way too excited at the thought of not being able to produce new fat cells. I think "Cher" can tell I'm not listening anymore. She finishes her sales pitch and shakes my hand.

"It should be a very good result," she tells me. "You have tons of collagen and you're not above your ideal weight."

I like how she keeps reassuring me I'm not fat.

She leaves the room and sends someone in to talk finances. Before I find out how much it's going to cost, I'm actually considering the procedure. Never mind the fact that I could achieve the same results at the gym, or the fact that I'm already in debt and can't afford to pay someone to dissolve my fat for me. I want this! I need this!

Then I hear the price. The center is running a "sale" for the month of August, so I can get it done for around $3,500 for both thighs. Or $317.54 per month. Thighs are usually $2,200 each.

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Megan Irwin
Contact: Megan Irwin