Countless diet and exercise routines focus on burning excess fat to change body contour (shape). But if you’ve ever tried to lose a few pounds in specific areas like the belly or thighs, you know how difficult that can be. And building muscle definition in these areas can be even more challenging.
Plastic surgeons use a variety of techniques to adjust body contour. Liposuction is one of the most popular procedures performed by plastic surgeons — but this is a surgical procedure that uses incisions and anesthesia. Emsculpt is a nonsurgical method that is designed to burn fat while also toning muscles and improving their size and shape.
So, is it really possible to build muscles and burn excess fat without working out and without surgery? Read on to find out.
How Does Emsculpt Work?
Emsculpt is an FDA-approved device that uses a nonsurgical approach to build muscle while burning fat. It works by emitting electromagnetic energy that makes muscles contract up to 20,000 times in each 30 minute session. It’s often used on the abs, butt or thighs.
The device can make a focused set of muscles (for example, the so-called “6-pack” abdominal muscles) contract at a higher frequency and intensity than you can reach with exercise alone. This can help increase the size, shape and tone of the muscles. The treatment also helps get rid of fat between the skin surface and the muscle layer. The combination of these two processes can improve the contour and definition of the targeted body area.
During an Emsculpt session, you will lay on a bed and remove any metallic accessories and jewelry, as well as clothing covering the body area you’re treating. Then the provider will apply the device to your skin and secure it with a belt to keep it in place while your muscles contract.
This process usually involves 4 sessions spaced over 2 weeks. The results usually continue to develop over the following weeks to months. Results may include a reduction in fat thickness and increase in muscle tone and bulk. It can also reduce separation between the abdominal muscles. These changes can be subtle, but some people find them very satisfying.
What Are the Risks and Side Effects of Emsculpt?
More studies are needed to look into the potential side effects of Emsculpt. So far, there seem to be minimal side effects. But the person operating the device does need to carefully follow safety measures to avoid potential injury, overheating or uncomfortable sensations.
It’s also very important to get a consultation with a board-certified provider before getting this treatment. Tell your doctor about your medical history, including any skin conditions, infections, scars, hernias or prior surgeries in the area.
You don’t need any downtime for recovery after Emsculpt — you can return to your usual activities right away.
Does Emsculpt Hurt?
Most people don’t report any pain during Emsculpt sessions. The treatment feels like a rapid series of muscle contractions or an intense workout. The sensation may feel shocking or somewhat uncomfortable at first, and you may feel heat in the area being treated. But the contractions shouldn’t be painful. If you feel pain during the session, tell the provider right away.
You will feel muscle fatigue afterwards, and some muscle soreness when using your muscles — just like you would after an intense workout. You may also have temporary skin redness in the treated area.
If you have intense abdominal pain, vomiting, severe skin changes or any other troubling symptoms, let your provider know right away.
How Long Do Emsculpt Results Last?
Emsculpt results take about 4 weeks to reach their full effect following your final treatment. Results vary by person and body type, but they can last for months or more afterwards.
It’s important to keep in mind that your exercise and eating habits after the treatment will affect the outcomes and how long they last. Emsculpt works best for people who are already eating healthy and getting regular exercise, but are still struggling to lose fat in specific areas or gain better muscle tone and body contour.
How Much Does Emsculpt Cost and Where Can I Get It?
Because Emsculpt is a cosmetic procedure, health insurance won’t cover the cost. Out-of-pocket prices vary by location and provider and could also change depending on the body areas you’re targeting.
Typical pricing is around $1,000 per 30 min session, or up to $4,000 per full treatment.
Find a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area to start a conversation about body contouring options and whether Emsculpt could be right for you.
Bottom Line: Does Emsculpt Work?
Many different factors affect body shape. For the best results, you can use a combination of diet, exercise and body contouring procedures.
Emsculpt is a promising nonsurgical method that combines muscle toning and fat burning. While more research is needed to study the long-term effects, early studies suggest positive results. If you’re considering Emsculpt or any other body contouring procedure, it’s important to talk with a board-certified plastic surgeon to find out what the best approach might be for you.
- “High Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Therapy Evaluated by Magnetic Resonance Imaging” via Lasers in Surgery and Medicine
- “High Intensity Focused Electro-Magnetic Technology (HIFEM) for Non-Invasive Buttock Lifting and Toning of Gluteal Muscles” via The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology
- “A German Prospective Study of the Safety and Efficacy of a Non-Invasive, High-intensity, Electromagnetic Abdomen and Buttock Contouring Device” via The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology
- “2020 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report” via American Society of Plastic Surgeons