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In the ever-changing world of plastic surgery and dermatology, there is no shortage of available treatments for those looking to lose fat and sculpt their bodies. But Emsculpt, an FDA-approved non-surgical body contouring treatment that debuted in 2018, is in a league of its own.

Emsculpt is known for its impressive muscle toning and fat burning properties – requiring zero downtime after non-invasive treatments. But what exactly is this high-intensity device? We consulted with a group of experts to find out. We spoke with Dr. Arash Akhavan of Dermatology and Laser Group, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, celebrity cosmetic dermatologist and founder of PFRANKMD, and Adriana Martino, owner of SKINNEY MedSpa, to find out the technology behind Emsculpt, find out who is a good candidate for treatment, and how patients can maximize their results after the procedure.

How does Emsculpt work?
Emsculpt uses cutting-edge technology to tone your body and help eliminate fat. As Dr. Akhavan explains, the name Emsculpt actually comes from the science behind the treatment. “The first two letters – the E and M in Emsculpt – are the technology behind it,” says Dr. Akhavan. “It uses electromagnetic energy to make the muscles in the area you’re treating contract.” Dr. Akhavan adds that the process is similar to the way we naturally contract our muscles. “Emsulpt takes over this process to a much greater degree than our bodies are capable of,” he continues. “The use of this electromagnetic energy causes the muscles to undergo what is called supramaximal contraction.”

Dr. Frank explains that these conditions contribute to the amazing results. “Compared to performing 20,000 fully contracted sit-ups or squats in 1 session, the technique induces 20,000 supermaximal muscle contractions that cannot be achieved through voluntary contractions,” Dr. Frank told T&C. “When exposed to supermaximal contractions, the muscle tissue is forced to adapt to these extreme conditions. It undergoes a deep remodeling of its internal structure, which leads to muscle building and fat burning.” Overall, Dr. Frank says the “revolutionary treatment” can burn fat and build muscle to shape your body.

How is Emsculpt different from other fat removal procedures?
There are significant differences between Emsculpt and other fat removal procedures available today. “In a very critical way, no other device can really condition or build muscle,” says Dr. Akhavan. “The way sculpting works is it makes these muscles contract 20,000 times in 30 minutes, which is like a workout, but builds muscle tissue to a much greater extent. It burns locally stored fat because these muscles need calories to feed them that contraction.”

Dr. Frank agrees that this is the first device to remove fat by “exercising the underlying muscles. He adds, “FDA-approved for strengthening, toning and firming the abdomen and buttocks, Emsculpt offers superior contouring results that are unmatched by existing non-invasive body contouring treatments.”

“This is not a weight loss treatment; it is best suited for people who are already in good shape and can be used as the ‘icing on the cake’. I believe this technique will have the same effect on the body as Botox has on the face.” Dr. Frank said.

Who is a good candidate for the procedure?
Emsculpt isn’t for everyone. As Dr. Frank explains, “The ideal candidate is a thin, relatively healthy patient who wants additional definition in the abdomen and buttocks that they can’t achieve with their own efforts.”

Dr. Akhavan adds that people with more total body fat will not see a huge difference with Emsculpt. Instead, he recommends it as a good candidate for treatment for patients who are active but have small stubborn areas. “We can get away with this and actually even see the definition of a six-pack,” explains Dr. Akhavan.

Popular among both men and women, Emsculpt is also a good option for patients recovering from injuries. “It’s very popular among athletes and patients recovering from sports injuries,” says Dr. Akhavan. “We get a lot of recommendations from physical therapy centers because it’s a quick way to strengthen muscle groups that have become weakened by injury.”

Martino, founder of SKINNEY MedSpa, adds that ideal candidates are people with specific weight loss goals or “men and women who just want to get more definition and tone”

People who have metal or electronic devices (such as pacemakers) implanted anywhere in the body, or patients with a history of muscle problems (such as a complicated hernia) are not at all candidates for Emsculpt. “The treatment is safe, but the device is medically serious,” explains Dr. Frank. “There is no metal around the device, just like with an MRI.” In other words: if you have a metal implant in your body, consult your doctor.How long does Emsculpt take?
Each Emsculpt session is a 30-minute treatment of a specific area of the body. If you are exercising multiple body areas, such as the abdominal and hip areas, two 30-minute sessions will be required. The protocol recommends four Emsculpt sessions in about two weeks, spaced two to three days apart for best results.

What results will people see after Emsculpt?
Expect to see a toned, leaner area with significant fat loss after Emsculpt. “Studies have shown a 15 to 20 percent reduction in muscle growth and fat in the area after the treatment protocol,” says Dr. Frank. “You can start to feel noticeable results immediately after treatment; however, positive results are seen two to four weeks after the last treatment and continue to improve for several weeks after treatment.”

Dr. Akhavan explains that after two weeks of treatment, your body feels and looks as if “you really did your best with the help of a trainer” and if you eat well and control your fat intake for six months and one year. Dr. Akhavan adds that these results are very enlightening for physically fit patients. “We get a lot of ‘Oh, I’m seeing six-pack abs for the first time in my life,’ and people are motivated to keep it up afterward,” he explains.

Likewise, Martino reveals that after Emsculpt, you can expect 16 percent muscle hypertrophy and 19 percent fat loss in the treated area. According to Martino, Emsculpt is currently FDA-approved for use on the abdomen, buttocks and thighs.

How long do the results last? Will patients return for more treatment?
How long the effects of Emsculpt treatment last depends on how active the patient’s lifestyle is. Some people undergo Emsculpt treatment and then maintain their newly toned bodies by exercising regularly on their own, but other patients undergo Emsculpt and plan to return for more treatments as their maintenance.

“If you’re going to use it as motivation or actually do a lot of core strength things, you can keep it up for a long time, maybe even permanently,” Dr. Akhavan says. “If you don’t, then the muscle will slowly start to lose because you’re not using it, the fat will slowly start to come back, and then you’ll need to do maintenance.”

Both Dr. Akhavan and Dr. Frank add that maintenance visits are less frequent than the initial two-week treatment course. “Just like with exercise maintenance, treatments can range from once a year to once a month, depending on the desired outcome, and results can be seen immediately and progressed within a few months,” says Dr. Frank.

How much does Emsculpt cost?
The price depends on the doctor you see and the body part you are treating, but each treatment can cost between $750 and $1,000. Since a typical plan is to have a total of four treatments over a two-week period, you can expect the total cost to be between $3,000 and $4,000.

What are the potential side effects of Emsculpt?
You may feel mild soreness after treatment, Dr. Akhavan explains, and in rare cases, people say they actually feel tired, as if they’ve just completed a strenuous workout. According to Dr. Akhavan, Emsculpt contraction actually helps to remove lactic acid buildup from the muscles. Since lactic acid causes muscle soreness, the Emsculpt process prevents patients from becoming overly sore.

There is no downtime after treatment, Dr. Frank adds, and patients can immediately resume their regularly scheduled activities.

What’s the difference between Emsculpt and Emsculpt Neo?
In 2020, the developers behind Emsculpt released an all-in-one sister therapy called Emsculpt Neo, which was also approved by the FDA. Not only does it have patented electromagnetic technology that stimulates supermaximal muscle contraction, but it also uses radiofrequency energy to help melt surface fat and tighten skin, says Dr. Frank. As with the original device, “it achieves contraction in a way that cannot be achieved through autonomous contraction alone,” Dr. Frank notes.

As for who is a good candidate? Most people, but “it takes diet and exercise to create a synergistic response,” says Dr. Frank. That said, people who are injured and can’t exercise the way they used to can benefit from Emsculpt Neo’s core workouts, as well as those suffering from sciatica, neurological problems and postural issues.

Another advantage of the program: instead of being performed twice a week, it is performed once a week for four weeks. Depending on the person, maintenance sessions are usually a few times a year to once a month. Patients can expect to see results after the second or third session, Dr. Frank says.


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