What Is Emsculpt?

We asked doctors what they think of this body sculpting technology.

The words "quick fix" in relation to weight loss can be worrisome, as it takes time to lose weight and keep it off. In fact, reducing your weight at too fast of a pace can result in you gaining it back, as noted by a January 2018 Medical Clinics article.

Still, discovering a weight management option like Emsculpt may ease your worry since it is an effective procedure that can be done in a relatively short amount of time. Learn more about Emsculpt and what it can do to help you reduce your weight and tone your body.

What Is Emsculpt—And How Does It Work?

Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York–based dermatologist and Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (FAAD), called Emsculpt an "advancement for the body contouring world." The procedure is an FDA-approved, non-invasive, electromagnetic procedure that claims to eliminate fat cells and tighten muscles in your abs and buttocks.

When you get to your Emsculpt provider's office, you'll lie down and get hooked up to a machine that will emit electromagnetic pulses for the purposes of strengthening your muscle fibers and burning unwanted fat. The company has said that the electromagnetic pulses sent through your muscles feel like "an intensive workout"—the only difference being that you can relax while doing it.

The electromagnetic pulses will force your muscles to contract about 20,000 times in just 30 minutes, resulting in stronger muscle fibers. The rapid contractions also cause your muscles to release chemicals that tell fat cells in the area to break down.

Further, the company recommended that users do four 30-minute sessions over a two-week period for optimal results—adding that you'll be able to notice results right after the treatment, two to four weeks after the final session, and improvements for weeks after the treatment is completed.

What Specific Results Can Occur After Using Emsculpt?

As is the case with any method concerning weight change, results can vary from person to person. Lisa DeSantis, Health beauty editor, discussed her experience with Emsculpt in December 2018. "I tried it on my stomach, and while it was a little uncomfortable, it was tolerable," DeSantis wrote. "The results weren't instantaneous, but I could feel that my muscles had been putting in work. I was pleasantly surprised with my leaner tummy after about a month."

Also, a company-sponsored study published in a December 2019 issue of Dermatologic Surgery detailed results for 33 Emsculpt patients. The researchers found there was an average 19% reduction in subcutaneous abdominal fat (fat that's easier to see on a person's body, like around their belly and legs) one month after treatment and a 23% reduction three months post-treatment. A January 2019 Lasers in Surgery and Medicine study that 22 patients found an average 15% increase in abdominal muscle thickness two months post-treatment.

What Else To Know About Using Emsculpt

Getting Emsculpt treatments do not require any preparation before or after the treatments, which also means that there is no recovery time needed, per the company website. The cost of a full treatment ranges from $3,000 to $4,000, depending on the physician. You also have to keep in mind that insurance will not cover Emsculpt because it is a cosmetic-oriented procedure.

Additionally, Emsculpt should not be used as a substitute for exercise. Emsculpt is "stimulating the muscle to fire, but it's not doing what exercise does for you," explained John Jakicic, PhD, chair of the department of health and physical activity at the University of Pittsburgh. "If I'm doing a squat, I have my glutes and quadriceps firing, I have my calves firing, my low back is working, and it's increasing my heart rate, so I'm stimulating more than just one muscle."

Instead, Emsculpt can be used as a body contouring method and to help you build the muscle you may need to confidently start an exercise program.

Ultimately, when it comes to the choice of using Emsculpt or not, everyone is different, and only you can be the judge of whether this treatment is right for you with the assistance of a healthcare provider.

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