Getting rid of those love handles, the mummy tummy or that extra fat under your chin could now be as simple as a relaxing half hour treatment that feels like a hot stone massage.

Skinfresh Clinic, run by Dr Frances Pitsilis, is the first clinic in the country to be offering treatment with the "fat destroying" device truSculpt 3D. Real Housewives of Auckland star Angela Stone promotes the treatment in a video, saying it was "like a dream come true."

But experts believe its claims could be too good to be true. A prominent surgical dermatologist questioned its claims, and a dietician has said diet and exercise were the best ways to stay in shape.

In her video, Stone says: "It really is like a hot stone massage. It just feels divine.
"It's so just walk in and you walk back out again."


Pitsilis said the device could reduce the fat thickness layer by 18 to 24 per cent after just one treatment.

A hand-piece emitting radio frequency energy was used to glide across the area being treated and heated the skin up to 43C - "fat destroying temperature" as Pitsilis calls it.

By that stage the fat cells in the subcutaneous layer would be a couple of degrees hotter than the skin and the cells would start to die off.

"Once the fat cells have been at that temp for long enough they start to decide,' oh no, we can't survive, we're going to die'. So then they just die off over the next few weeks," Pitsilis said.

She said most people started to notice a change about eight weeks after the treatment but it was at 12 weeks that the full effect could be seen. Treatments vary in price from $650 to $1200.

The treatment was similar to cryolipolysis, which destroys fat cells by freezing, and laser, which also increases the temperature of the fat cells but requires constant cooling of the skin during the treatment.

Surgical dermatologist and director of KM Surgical Dr Ken Macdonald said he had no experience with truSculpt but had trialled other non-invasive body sculpting devices and found none of them gave cost effective, predictable results.

"I feel you can spend a lot of money with not a lot of success. I really have my doubts"


He believed tumescent liposuction was more effective and safer.

Dr Frances Pitsilis is the first person in the country to offer body sculpting with truSculpt 3D. Photo/Supplied
Dr Frances Pitsilis is the first person in the country to offer body sculpting with truSculpt 3D. Photo/Supplied

Macdonald said there was evidence cells could be killed when heated up but there was always the risk of damaging other cells. Such intense energy could damage blood vessels, nerves or the underside of your skin and even create scarring.

Pitsilis said she had waited for the development of the truSculpt, made by Cutera, because it was faster, more comfortable and did not have the same side effects as cryolipolysis which could cause nerve problems.

She said the a previous version of the machine had been used for several years without problems.

The frequency used was attracted specifically to the fat cells so should not affect nerves or blood vessels, she said. Patients must also have at least 1cm of fat to be eligible for the treatment to make sure no other cells were damaged.

"I have no concerns about the technology," she said.

With truSculpt 3D patients could be left with pink, slightly tender skin for a couple hours after the treatment and might notice some lumpiness over the next 12 weeks as the fat cells died off unevenly, however that would not last.

She said the treatment was not a weight loss exercise but could be used to help people who had already tried dieting and exercising to get rid of the last few areas of fat.

"If you can pinch an inch, you're eligible," she said.

Lea Stenning of Dietitians NZ said a good diet and exercise regime was always best when trying to lose weight and get the body shape you wanted.

It might be easier than diet and exercise, but it doesn't come cheap. Treatment under the chin would set you back $650. For other, larger areas it would cost $1200.

The device could also be used on the stomach, back, inner and outer thigh, knees, ankles, flanks and under the arms.