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In the ever-changing world of plastic surgery and dermatology, there's no shortage of treatments available for those looking to shed fat and sculpt their bodies. But Emsculpt, the FDA cleared non-surgical body contouring treatment that first hit the scene last year, is in a league of its own.
Emsculpt is known for its impressive muscle toning and fat burning properties-and the non-invasive treatment requires zero downtime afterwards. But what exactly is this high-intensity device? We consulted a group of experts to find out. We spoke with Dr. Arash Akhavan of the Dermatology and Laser Group, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, the Celebrity Cosmetic Dermatologist and Founder of PFRANKMD, and Adriana Martino, the owner of SKINNEY MedSpa, to learn about 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 is actually derived from the science behind the treatment. "The first two letters-the E and the M in Emsculpt-is the technology behind it," Dr. Akhavan said. "It uses electromagnetic energy to get the muscles to contract in the area you're treating." Dr. Akhavan added that the process is similar to how we contract our muscles naturally. "Emsulpt takes over that process to a much stronger extent than our bodies are able to," he continues. "Using this electromagnetic energy causes the muscles to do what are called super maximal contractions."
Dr. Frank explains that these conditions help achieve stunning results. "The technology induces 20,000 supramaximal muscle contractions not achievable through voluntary contractions-compared to doing 20,000 full contraction crunches or squats in 1 session," Dr. Frank told T&C. "When exposed to supramaximal contractions, the muscle tissue is forced to adapt to such extreme conditions. It responds with a deep remodeling of its inner structure that results in muscle building and fat burning." Overall, Dr. Frank says the "revolutionary treatment" works to burn fat and build muscle to sculpt your body.
How is Emsculpt different than other fat removal procedures?
There are stark differences between Emsculpt and other fat removal procedures around today. "In a very key way, there's no other device out there that actually tones or builds muscles," Dr. Akhavan said. "The way the emsculpt works is by causing these muscles to contract 20,000 times in 30 minutes, and that builds muscle tissue just like exercising but to a much greater extent. It's burning the local fat stores up because these muscles need calories to feed them for this contraction."
A post shared by Paul Jarrod Frank MD (@drpauljarrodfrank) on Jul 2, 2018 at 12:37pm PDT
Dr. Frank agreed that this is the first device that removes fat by "working out the underlying muscle." He added: "FDA-cleared for the strengthening, toning, and firming of the abdomen and butt, Emsculpt delivers superior contouring results that existing non-invasive body shaping therapies cannot match."
"This is not a treatment for weight loss; it’s best for individuals who are in good shape already and serves as an ‘icing on the cake’ treatment. I believe that this type of technology will do for the body, what Botox did for the face." Dr. Frank said.
Who is a good candidate for the procedure?
Emsculpt isn't a perfect fit for everyone. As Dr. Frank explains, the "ideal candidates are thin, relatively fit patients looking for that extra definition in the abdomen and lift in their buttocks that their own efforts can’t accomplish."
Dr. Akhavan adds that individuals who have a lot of generalized body fat won't see a huge difference with Emsculpt. Instead, he recommends it to patients who are active but have a small stubborn area, are good candidates for treatment. "We can get rid of that, and actually even see definition like a six pack," Dr. Akhavan explains.
Emsculpt is popular among both men and women, and it's also a good option for patients recovering from an injury. "It’s been very popular with athletes and patients recovering from sports injuries," Dr. Akhavan said. "We get a lot of referrals from physical therapy centers, because it's a quick way to strengthen the muscle groups that have become weak due to an injury."
SKINNEY MedSpa founder Martino added that the ideal candidate is someone who has a specific weight loss goal, or "simply men and women who would like to achieve more definition and tone"
Individuals with metal or electronics, like a pacemaker, implanted anywhere in their body, or patients with a history of muscle issues such as complicated hernias, are not suitable to receive Emsculpt all together. "Treatments are safe but the device is a medically serious one," Dr. Frank explained. "No metal can be around the device much like getting an MRI." In other words: if you have a metal implant in your body, consult with your doctor.
How long does Emsculpt take?
Each Emsculpt session is a 30 minute treatment on one particular area of the body. If you're working on multiple body parts, like the abdominal and the buttock areas, that will require two 30 minute sessions. The protocol recommends four Emsculpt sessions within a roughly two week period, spaced two or three days apart for optimal results.
A post shared by Arash Akhavan, MD, FAAD (@dermatologyandlasergroup) on Jul 31, 2018 at 3:06pm PDT
What results will people see after Emsculpt?
Expect to see a toned, leaner area with notably less fat after Emsculpt. "Studies show a 15 to 20 percent muscle growth and fat reduction in the area after treatment regimen," Dr. Frank said. "You can begin to feel tangible results right after the treatment; however, positive results are seen two to four weeks after the last session and continue to improve for several weeks following the treatments."
Dr. Akhavan explains that after the two weeks of treatment, your body feels and looks as if "you really worked out maximally with a trainer doing the best you possibly can" and if you were eating well and controlling your fat intake for six months to a year. Dr. Akhavan adds that these results have been very motivating for generally fit patients. "We’ve been getting a lot of 'oh I see a six pack for the first time in my life even though I’ve been exercising my whole life', and people are motivate to keep it afterward," he explained.
Similarly, Martino reveals you can expect a 16 percent muscle hypertrophy and a 19 percent fat reduction in the treatment area after Emsculpt. At present time, Emsculpt is FDA-cleared to use on the abdomen, buttock, and thighs, according to Martino.
How long do the results last? Do patients return for more treatments?
How long the results of an Emsculpt treatment last depends on how active the patient's lifestyle is. Some people undergo Emsculpt and then maintain their newly toned body afterwards on their own with regular exercise, but other patients receive Emsculpt and plan to returning for more treatment as their maintenance.
"If you are somebody who is going to use that as motivation or actually doing lots of core strength stuff, you can maintain it for a very long time, maybe even permanently," Dr. Akhavan said. "If you're not going to be doing that, then the muscle will slowly start to diminish because you’re not using it as much, the fat can slowly start to come back and then you’ll need maintenance session."
Both Dr. Akhavan and Dr. Frank add that maintenance visits are less frequent than the initial two week treatment process. "Like exercise maintenance, treatments can range from once a year to once a month depending on desired results and results are seen immediately and progressive over months," Dr. Frank said.
A post shared by SKINNEY Medspa® (@skinneymedspa) on Jan 28, 2019 at 6:54am PST
How much does Emsculpt cost?
The price varies depending on what doctor you see and which area of the body you're working on, but each session can cost between $750 and $1,000. Since the usual program is four treatments total over a two week span, 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 minor soreness after treatment, and Dr. Akhavan explains that on rare occasions, people have said they actually feel fatigued like they just finished a strenuous workout. According to Dr. Akhavan, Emsculpt contractions actually help clear lactic acid buildup in the muscles. Since lactic acid can cause muscle soreness, so the Emsculpt process prevents patients from getting too sore.
There's no downtime required after the treatment, and Dr. Frank adds that patients can resume their regularly scheduled activities immediately.
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