Bellis’s Bio Cupping Body Detox treatment ($310) uses elements of Ayurveda, aromatherapy, and endermologie (a suctionkneading device) to reduce both cellulite and fat buildup. After applying essential oils to my skin, she went over it with a dry body brush to activate circulation and give toxins an exit plan. She then picked up a contraption called a Biodraineur, which combines light therapy and machine-powered cupping and walked the flashing glass domes up and down my legs, arms, stomach, and buttocks. I was worried that my entire body would end up looking like Gwyneth Paltrow’s bruised postcupping back in those infamous photos but was reassured by the gentle suction, which felt like third-grade back-of-hand kissing practice.
Bellis sees the Bio Cupping procedure as a kick start, not a quick fix. She finished the treatment by rubbing caffeine-infused Gel Thermo Amincissant by biochemist Joëlle Ciocco (under whom she trained) into my target spots and then sent me off with a new alkaline-diet regimen, a box of German herbal tea, and a bottle of Ciocco’s slimming gel, which I was to apply twice daily for at least eight weeks. Bellis also suggested rest, no alcohol or caffeine, and that I “manage internal stress”—deep breathing, meditation, moving to Provence. Easier said than done, of course. But if I had the time for the recommended 6 to 12 treatments, I’d do them in a heartbeat. My relaxed state, which lasted almost a week, found me focusing on feeling “whole” in a vague kind of way. What I really wanted, though, was to be as glowing and slim as the ultra-natural Bellis.
While it’s all too easy to repeat the mantra of “diet and exercise” until its lessons are somehow internalized, it’s key to understand that fat is a stubborn substance much trickier to reach than, say, muscle. (Witness the struggle that even the very fit have with shedding those last few extra pounds, like the rock-hard-yet-soft-in-the-middle power moms in my spinning class.) As a result, the cosmetic-device industry has increasingly been aiming its energy beams and lasers at body fat.
The Manhattan aesthetician Ildi Pekar has a veritable showroom of body-slimming contraptions—everything from sweat blankets to radio frequency waves—in her little penthouse lair on Madison Avenue. After assessing my needs, she proclaimed, “Beam!” in her Hungarian accent. I thought something had been lost in translation, until Pekar told me that BEAM is the acronym for Bio Electrical Acceleration Management ($200 per treatment). “It’s a muscle stimulator,” she explained as she stuck several pads onto my belly, EKG-style, then hooked them to cords attached to the machine. Every few seconds, electrical pulses vibrated and pulled over the area. “This mimics the body’s own bioelectric process to tighten your stomach muscles,” Pekar explained. “It’s doing sit-ups for you—and when the muscles are tighter and shorter, you get rid of excess toxins, water, and fat.” “Where will the fat go?” I asked. “Urination,” she said. Pekar promised that the results would last at least a week. She was right: The skinny jeans I’d just bought had a very flattering honeymoon period.