After piling on 32kg during her second pregnancy, Anita Menzies, 27, was desperate to be a yummy mummy once more. But her bid to lose the weight has ended in an ugly spat with a beauty spa and an insight into how dispute resolution can go badly wrong.
With two children under 2, eating healthily and exercising seemed out of reach so Menzies paid nearly $900 and signed up to "Endermologie" at the upmarket Tranquility Spa in Auckland. She says she was told inches of fat would melt from her butt, thighs and tummy.
The treatment involved being massaged by a machine which sucked and rolled over the skin. She also had regular saunas.
"In my consultation, I showed her the bits I wanted to work on and she told me it was all completely possible," Menzies said.
"It's quite a powerful machine. It's incredibly painful but [the consultant] kept telling me 'the higher we do it, the better the results'." After completing 10 treatments, Menzies had seen little result around her legs and was noticing the skin around her stomach was showing stretch marks.
She went to another spa where she was told her weight, and the fact she had had a caesarean section, meant Endermologie was not suitable.
"You have to be in a certain weight range to get results. They said they couldn't take me on as a client. I've got vein issues which should not have been worked on either."
Menzies raised this with Tranquility Spa and was emailed by owner Joanne Lin, who said a lawyer had been contacted. She demanded Menzies pay a 50 per cent fee for seven appointments cancelled within 24 hours. Lin also accused Menzies of causing $1800 damage to the sauna.
"You were advised many times not to play around with the time and temperature setting. I will send you a copy of the invoice with my lawyer's letter," the email read. No invoice arrived and Menzies has not paid.
When approached by the Herald on Sunday, Lin maintained Endermologie was an appropriate treatment for Menzies and said the poor results were because she had not attended treatments regularly and did not exercise or diet.
"I believe she benefited from the treatment. When we did the final measurements, there was a difference. I can't guarantee results. If she stuck to the plan I gave her she would have got better results." She described Menzies as a "hard case" customer who would not be welcomed back.
Lin, who took over the spa after Menzies' third visit, said she was not a qualified beauty therapist but had completed a one-day Endermologie course.
Association of Plastic Surgeons president Howard Klein said he believed Endermologie could help reduce cellulite in patients after surgery, but there was little evidence it worked otherwise.
Endermologie is not a medical term but a registered trademark by French company LPG. It claims to treat cellulite by stimulating cells with two mechanical rollers that suck and roll over the skin. The idea is that this process stimulates the body's fat-burning mechanisms and tightens loose areas of skin.
Sometimes called "skin gymnastics", gentle Endermologie is sometimes used on the face to fight the signs of ageing.
Two or three sessions a week are recommended over a course of several weeks. Saunas are often used after treatment. Most spas recommend the treatment to complement a healthy diet and vigorous exercise.