With the next wave of noninvasive body contouring, muscle stimulation paired with noninvasive fat reduction is becoming increasingly popular. This technology takes a turn from the ever-popular, Coolsculpting, which is only a fat reduction treatment. As popularity in this space grows especially for the abdomen and buttock, more and more devices and treatments are becoming available to patients and it can get very confusing to decipher the options.
I have been personally very skeptical about the muscle stimulation treatments because, on the surface, it seemed like just a very expensive alternative to working out. I had a chance to look at all of the currently available muscle stimulation treatments on the market today and I came away with two major thoughts. First, muscle stimulation works and it’s not just a gym replacement. It can truly do things most people couldn’t do on their own even if they quit their day job and spent all day and every day at the gym. The second thing is that this is the future of the noninvasive body contouring world. The treatments I will discuss really give so much more than a fat reduction-only treatment like Coolsculpting and it has me convinced that this will be what dominates the noninvasive body space in the very near future.
All the discussed devices ask that you do either 4 or 6 treatments either once a week or twice a week until you’ve completed the series. If you are considering any of these treatments, it’s best to go in knowing that you’ll need at least 4-6 sessions to see results.
Before I get into the specific devices, I’d like to say that our experience with these devices is as objective as possible. Our practice has been looking into offering one of these treatments and in an effort to gain the most valuable information, we had a number of devices brought in to give them each a test run. The information in this article is our unbiased experience with each of these and while we do have our favorite, we came to our opinions and conclusions without any outside influence whatsoever.
We can start by discussing the devices only stimulate muscle which can both build muscle and reduce fat. They both involve multiple sessions and will push you to the edge of your comfort zone for maximal benefit. The three available devices are:
Lutronic AccuFit: This uses electrical stimulation to cause muscle contractions. They use a set of 2 or 4 applicators depending on the size of the treatment area.
Allergan Cooltone: Uses magnetic muscle stimulation and 2 or 4 applicators depending on the treatment size. Recently was found to infringe on Emsculpt’s patents so I’m not sure about the future of this device.
BTL Emsculpt: Uses magnetic HIFEM technology to stimulate muscle contractions. They have a large applicator for areas such as the abdomen or buttocks and a smaller curved applicator for areas like the arms. Definitely the better known of the three, Emsculpt has easily become the more popular treatment for muscle-only treatments. It (along with Emsculpt Neo) is the only one that does not use lubricating jelly on the applicator so there’s nothing to wipe off once you are finished.
The next generation of noninvasive body contouring adds a separate fat-reducing treatment that provides even more fat reduction than muscle stimulation alone. The popular ones out there now include:
Cartessa Physiq: Uses electric muscle stimulation combined with laser diode fat reduction technology. These treatments will use 2 or 4 applicators depending on the treatment size. During a treatment, the muscle stimulation and the laser fat reduction treatments alternate in cycles. In effect, you end up getting half of the muscle stimulation time which may or may not affect your final results.
InMode EvolveX: Also uses electric muscle stimulation and combines that with radiofrequency technology to reduce fat. They also use 2 or 4 applicators much like Physiq.
BTL Emsculpt Neo: Similar to Emsculpt, it uses a large applicator or two smaller curved applicators with magnetic HIFEM to stimulate muscle. Emsculpt Neo adds radiofrequency fat reduction technology to add to its muscle stimulation treatment. During a treatment session, both muscle stimulation and fat reduction treatments are happening at the same time so you really maximize your 30-minute session. While FDA clearance is pending as of this writeup, skin tightening is also one of its benefits.
In general, a good candidate for one treatment is a good candidate for all of these. Patients with a BMI of greater than 35 are usually considered poor candidates as these patients typically see the least benefit from these treatments.
When performed properly, all of these treatments carry very low risk and one of the benefits of this newer technology is that you do not get the risk of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia that can happen with Coolsculpting which is when the fat actually gets harder and thicker.
After having tried all of these devices, my favorite would be Emsculpt Neo. I really like the magnetic HIFEM technology as it really creates a strong muscle contraction without any electrical sensation that can come with some of the other devices so it’s the most comfortable. In addition, the use of radiofrequency to reduce fat and tighten skin is a fantastic combination that will only improve your results. BTL as a company has also performed many studies looking at the objective benefit of Emsculpt and Emsculpt Neo and the results are impressive. Patients get increased muscle thickness/definition, reduced subcutaneous fat, tighter skin, AND reduced visceral fat. This last piece is actually great because visceral fat is the fat around your abdominal organs that nothing but weight loss can affect. No other treatment can claim to affect visceral fat (not even surgery) and this is the main thing responsible for pushing your abdominal muscles outwards, creating a more round shape instead of flat.
I believe that the future of the noninvasive body contouring space is muscle stimulation combined with fat reduction. Coolsculpting used to be #1 but I believe Emsculpt and Emsculpt Neo will overtake it fairly soon. Contact us today for a consultation.