CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If you want to get rid of fat, those marketing gurus will sell you everything -- girdles, ab machines and even the "Shake Weight."
But there's a new machine that is winning the war on fat, according to people who have used it.
"It's a non-invasive way of body contouring," said Dr. Gilly Munavalli with Dermatology, Laser & Vein Specialists of the Carolinas.
He is the only doctor in North Carolina using Zeltiq or "cool sculpting." It dissolves fat cells in places like love handles, the stomach and even the dreaded back fat.
"Areas that are persistent and really hard to change when you're doing hard exercise," said Munavalli.
The machine works simply by changing the temperature of fat cells.
"If we can cool fat cells down cold enough they will fade away. They will melt away," he said.
Cool sculpting doesn't pump cool air into the skin, like when you drop ice into a drink and it cools down. It is just the opposite. The device pulls the heat out like a vacuum and then the temperature drops, making the fat cells disappear.
"My stomach area has been an area that's bothered me," said Debbie Thompson. She works out five days a week, but couldn't shake the weight off her midsection until she tried Zeltiq.
"Immediately after, it wasn't super dramatic. I didn't lose pounds, but I could tell a difference," Thompson said. "But it seems like one to two months afterwards was when I just remember looking in the mirror and my husband looking in the mirror, saying, 'Wow, your stomach was so flat.'"
"I was completely shocked that something so external could dissolve fat and make me so much more confident about myself," Thompson said.
Each treatment dissolves the fat layer by 25 percent. Many people need more than one treatment and each treatment costs around $700.
There is a downside to the procedure. The machine gets rid of the fat cells in the targeted area, so if you gain weight after the procedure, the fat will go somewhere else.
"Worst case scenario -- a person puts on 15 or 20 pounds a year after the procedure, it's going to go somewhere else. For women, typically, it's not uncommon to go to the breasts and the hips. In men, it would go to other parts of the abdomen," said Munavalli.
Each treatment takes about an hour and pain is minimal.
"There's no needles and no anesthesia once it achieves suction. There's a little tugging. Once that's done, there's no pain or discomfort. We have yet to halt a procedure because it is uncomfortable," Munavalli said.
"It was the most comfortable treatment," said Thompson. "I was able to sit there and do work. I was able to get up. It was a little sore, but nothing like I couldn't get up and do my activities."
Munavalli was part of the procedure's scientific trial and since he's the only one offering it in the state, the office has been flooded with prospective patients from states away.
The treatment is pending FDA approval. It is widely used in Europe and has been for several years. Munavalli says the full FDA approval is very close and he expects it to come at any time.
It is also important to remember this procedure is not for people with a lot of weight to lose. It is meant for people who are otherwise fit, but just have those problem areas.
Thompson, with her regular exercise routine, was an ideal patient. She now has a flat tummy and a better fitting wardrobe.
"My pants are a lot looser. I've definitely lost inches. I'm not in a lesser size but I'm definitely more comfortable in this size," Thompson said.
She has yet to tell her friends about her beauty secret.
"They're going to know now!" she said.
For more information on Zeltiq, visit http://www.carolinaskin.com/zeltiq.asp.