This mum turned 50, had a minor stroke and lost her body confidence... now thanks to fat freezing she has never felt better
When Co Antrim mum-of-two Irene Leahey had a milestone birthday, she felt frumpy rather than fabulous. She tells Helen Carson about the £1,000 beauty treatment package that gave her a new lease of life
When Irene Leahey from Templepatrick celebrated turning 50 with family and friends, she felt the time was right to kickstart her body confidence, having suffered a minor stroke 18 months previously.
Now, after discovering an effective, non-invasive treatment, the busy mum has lost 10 inches in 10 weeks and says she is well on her way to enjoying "the best years of her life".
Prior to being ill, the sales agent, who is married to David (49) and has two children - Annika (29), a dance teacher, and 19-year-old Queen's University student Jack - had been a regular at her gym three times a week, lifting weights to stay in shape.
However, the minor stroke left her feeling tired and she ended up spending a lot of time having a series of scans and MRIs in hospital.
But the milestone birthday proved an opportune moment for Irene to get her fitness mojo back.
"I'd hit a speed bump in the road," she says.
"I celebrated my 50th birthday with my wonderful husband and two brilliant children.
"I had a great career that saw me travel all over Europe. I had a big group of friends and a good social life.
"But something was missing. I had zero confidence, I had put on weight, my diet was rubbish, the change of life was looming and, as a result, I could feel my mood was very low."
Irene learned about fat freezing through social media, which in turn led her to the Cinch Clinic in Holywood - a fat-loss and skin rejuvenation clinic.
"I knew it was time for me to take action, and reaching this milestone seemed as good a time as any," she says.
The procedure, which is a favourite of former Strictly Come Dancing dancer Kristina Rihanoff, is non-invasive.
This was important to Irene, because she didn't want to go under the knife.
"Surgery is not an option for me. In fact, I wouldn't even consider it," she says. "The treatment has to be non-invasive.
"Like many women reaching middle age, I was a bit worried about the therapist seeing all my lumps and bumps, but Kim at Cinch Clinic put me at ease straight away.
"I was impressed by the clinic's realistic and holistic approach to helping clients lose fat and getting desired results.
"The therapist was a similar age to me, had been in exactly the same boat and had had fantastic results with the combination of treatments.
"She put me at my ease straight away and I felt a weight lift off my shoulders during our first chat.
"The clinic gave me a very detailed treatment plan, which started off with being treated in my stubborn fat areas with cryolipolysis."
Cryolipolysis is the latest fat-loss treatment of choice, and uses temperatures of between -3C and -10C to freeze fat.
A large 'cup' is placed on the treatment area, on top of an anti-freeze membrane.
Suction is then applied, which sees the client's skin sucked up into the cup area and cooled to between -3C and -10C for 45 minutes.
Over a period of 12 weeks, the process can kill off up to 40% of fat cells, which the body disposes of through the lymphatic system.
Irene was happy the treatment was non-invasive and came with no downtime.
The procedure itself felt, she explains, "a bit unusual but not painful".
In her first few treatments, spaced out over two to three weeks, Irene had her stomach, flanks, inner thighs and upper and lower abdomen treated with cryolipolysis.
She also had ultrasound cavitation on her arms and laser lipo on her legs.
"I started to really enjoy my time at the clinic - it was me-time," she says.
"I'd had a bad year and I wanted to do something for myself. I knew I was doing something positive for my body that would help me look and feel healthier and better.
"After about three weeks, I started to notice brilliant results.
"My arms, which had always bothered me in the past, didn't seem so large and flabby.
"My stomach was flatter, my trousers became a little looser and I was starting to get compliments from family and friends. For the first time in many years, I could wear my top tucked into my jeans.
"I went back for a further eight consecutive weeks to have ultrasound cavitation sessions on all of the treated areas, which helps to speed up the fat-loss by zapping the fat cells."
Cavitation is hailed as a pain-free alternative to surgery that uses ultrasound to destroy fat cells in specific parts of the body. The treatment is straightforward and easy to undergo.
A specially designed gel is applied to the area being targeted, then an ultrasound device, similar to the ones used in pregnancy scans, is applied to the skin. The device transmits concentrated ultrasonic energy that targets and destroys subcutaneous fat cells in the fat cell membrane. The fat is then dispersed into surrounding cells and recycled into proteins and glycerol.
Laser lipo, meanwhile, utilises the latest low-level cold laser technology to reduce girth and fat over almost all areas of the body without surgery, downtime or redness.
A typical 40-minute treatment can reduce an individual by half to three quarters of an inch, while a full course of eight treatments usually results in multiple inch loss.
A cardio session of at least 20 minutes is recommended immediately following the treatment.
Irene says: "As part of my body transformation journey, I started back at the gym and wore my Cinch corset daily - this was something which I was already a huge fan of.
"It not only holds in all of your lumps and bumps, which makes you feel more confident, but it also reminds you to eat less, improves your posture and gets rid of bloating - something I was suffering more and more from with age."
Cinch corsets is a sister brand to the clinic and a home-grown shape-wear firm, created and developed by Co Down women Angela Hunter and Nicola McIlhagger, who spotted a gap in the market for an excellent quality shape-wear item that would give dramatic results without harming the body.
The hand-stitched, waist-slimming corsets are made from quality, breathable fabric and are designed to support the back, whilst cinching in the waist, creating curves and a flat tummy.
The product is also a slimming tool. The longer the wearer uses the corset, the better the results - they can actually reduce inches off their waist.
Both Kim and Khloe Kardashian have worn similar corsets to achieve a whittled-in waist.
"I wore my corset for my working day, five days a week, and worked out regularly," says Irene.
"I am 10 weeks into my fat-loss journey and am delighted to say that I've been very impressed by the results.
"As we get older it is so hard to lose weight, and this has just given me a much-needed incentive and boost to my overall health regime.
"I have a waistline for the first time in years - my waist went from 32 inches to 29 inches.
"My thighs are two inches smaller. And, as a result of the fat loss, I look a whole lot leaner all over and it has kickstarted me to go back to the gym two to three times a week.
"I can feel my body confidence coming back and am looking forward to seeing the full results of the treatments (which can be seen after 12 weeks).
"As per the treatment plan recommendations, I now drink over two litres of water a day (water is essential in helping flush out the fat cells through the lymphatic system) which means my skin is brighter.
"I also have more energy and I have started to watch my diet a lot more.
"I can honestly say that these treatments have given me a new lease of life and a huge boost in confidence, which was much-needed at my stage of life."
Irene believes the sum she paid - just under £1,000 - was money well spent.
She adds: "I have lost an inch and a half off each arm. Everyone has different values, but to me this was good value for money.
"Having suffered a minor stroke and been too ill and tired to exercise the way I had previously, the treatments got my confidence back and enabled me to get back to the gym again and become who I was before."
Want to try it for yourself?
Cryolipolysis starts from £117. Irene had the Cinch Milestone Makeover package, which includes eight areas of cryolipolysis and two cavitation sessions per area, plus laser lipo costing £995. For more details, visit cinchclinic.co.uk