Core-To-Floor Part 2: The EMSCULPT NEO
Fat loss is a massive industry – to the tune of $71 billion, by recent estimates. And it’s pretty understandable why. Of all the complaints we hear from patients in our clinic at Men’s Health Boston, reducing belly fat ranks in the top three concerns (right up there with fatigue and erectile dysfunction, two strong signals of a potential testosterone deficiency). So, before we begin today, let’s be clear on one point: despite what the internet will try to sell you, there’s no “magic bullet” food or supplement to spot reduce abdominal fat. Realistically, if something like that DID exist, literally everyone you know would already be beating down your door with excitement over it.
This inconvenient truth makes it all the more surprising when something arrives on the medical scene that actually offers clinically-proven benefits toward a slimmer waist-line. In this case, that “thing” is called the EMSCULPT NEO by BTL. The EMSCULPT NEO is the latest development in a line of body sculpting devices that uses upgraded electromagnetic and radio wave technology to directly stimulate muscle tissue fibers and erode surface-level fat cells. This means simultaneous effects on fat burning and muscle building. At MHB, we’ve incorporated this novel device into our Core-to-Floor Program for optimal sexual function.
In last month’s blog, we wrote extensively about the benefits of a strong pelvic floor for both urinary control and sexual satisfaction. If you haven’t yet read that piece, we highly recommend you start there to understand the “base” of the Core-to-Floor program. Building on that logic, today’s goal is to describe in depth the EMSCULPT NEO: what it is, how it works, and why it’s changing the game in non-invasive body sculpting procedures.
What are the sexual benefits of a strong core, and why are abs useful for more than just good looks?
The core of the body is composed of a motley crew of muscles designed to help with a variety of tasks from bending and twisting to maintaining proper posture for spinal health. When it comes to the sexual benefits of a strong core, the most obvious answer is that a lean, muscular midsection has a lot of sex appeal when attracting potential partners.
When you look at the actual biomechanics of sex, the advantages become even clearer. Not only does it allow you to support your body weight for longer periods in different sexual positions without reaching exhaustion, but it protects the spine and prevents lower back pain from the exertion. Those effects shouldn’t be understated, as some research suggests that between one to two thirds of men with lower back pain report decreased sexual activity as a result.
What makes the BTL EMSCULPT device so special?
Body sculpting technology has progressed a lot since crude surgical options were first introduced in the 1920’s. More recently, there is heightened interest in non-surgical, non-invasive options that can produce fat loss without the risk profile or the necessary recovery period associated with procedures like liposuction.
BTL’s EMSCULPT NEO is the newest iteration in this lineage, but it differentiates itself by combining two novel and highly effective therapies into one treatment regimen. Whereas most medical devices target either muscle building or fat loss independently, the EMSCULPT does both at once, utilizing High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic (HIFEM) energy waves to stimulate powerful contractions in the muscle while simultaneously employing Radiofrequency (RF) heat to melt away stubborn body fat underneath the skin layer.
HIFEM technology utilizes alternating electrical currents run through a coil in the device to produce very low frequency magnetic waves. These waves are able to pass through multiple body tissues, such as skin and fat, without being absorbed, before eventually reaching the muscle. It’s here that the real magic happens: the magnetic waves generate electrical impulses that cause “supramaximal” – or stronger than the body could produce on its own – contractions. Over the course of one 30-minute session, the HIFEM energy from the EMSCULPT NEO produces enough stimulus to rival 20,000 repetitions of sit ups, all while laying comfortably on a table.
At the same time, high energy RF waves generate heat in the dermis, the base layer of the skin. In doing so, fat cells in the subcutaneous space below are also heated to a temperature they can’t withstand, which induces a cellular “self-destruct” mechanism known as apoptosis. The waste products of these dead cells are eventually re-absorbed and sloughed off by the body, though it can sometimes take several weeks to fully complete this cycle.
Meanwhile, the RF waves also work to tighten the skin in the treated area. The exact mechanism of skin tightening is not fully understood, but the primary thought is that RF waves are able to stimulate collagen production and remodeling, leading to a tauter, more flush look. This prevents the loose, uneven appearance sometimes left behind after other body sculpting treatments such as cool sculpting.
Does it have proven results?
It’s a fair question. While the device is relatively new (launched in October 2020), it has been an intense focus of various research studies over the past few years. Initially, data compiled from seven different clinical studies showed an average of 25% increase in muscle mass and 30% decrease in fat tissue in treated areas.
More recently, the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology released a position paper in 2021 endorsing the effectiveness of HIFEM + RF devices after reviewing data from over 30 investors and 500+ patients that led to similar conclusions.
So, while individual results may vary, the objective data shows the EMSCULPT NEO to be a highly safe and very effective treatment option for most patients.
Is the EMSCULPT NEO only offered as part of the Core-to-Floor program?
Not at all! The EMSCULPT NEO is very versatile, capable of working on more than just the waistline. At the moment, it is FDA-approved for use on 5 different muscle groups, including the abs, butt, thighs, calves, and arms.
While we typically recommend the use of EMSELLA and EMSCULPT NEO together for our patients seeking optimal sexual benefits, the device is very effective as a stand-alone procedure for sculpting muscle and burning fat tissue in the other body regions as well.
Are there any risks associated with the EMSCULPT NEO?
Because the treatment is non-invasive, there are few risks associated with therapy. Current research studies on the device consider it to be very safe, with few adverse events reported. That said, there are a few things to note:
- EMSCULPT NEO is approved to treat patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of up to 35. Beyond this level, the device may lose its ability to properly stimulate muscle contractions as the energy signal has to travel deeper beyond fat tissue to reach the muscle.
- EMSCULPT is not appropriate for pregnant or nursing women, or those who have metal or electronic implant devices in the treatment area. This includes pacemakers, drug pumps, and implanted defibrillators.
- RF technology is very effective at reducing subcutaneous, or surface level, fat. This is the layer that lives just underneath the skin. However, because of the limitations on penetration depth, it likely will not affect visceral fat, the type that surrounds the organs and is known for being metabolically detrimental.
How many treatments are recommended?
Research suggests that most patients see optimal effects after a cycle of at least 4 sessions, typically over the course of 4-8 weeks. One important point to be aware of: while you will likely feel the impacts of the treatment on your muscles right away, the overall body sculpting effects usually play out over the course of 4-6 months post-treatment.
This happens because of the underlying physiological mechanisms for how EMSCULPT NEO targets fat cells. When a fat cell is destroyed by lipolysis or apoptosis (described above), it often takes time for the body to dismantle and process the raw materials that were liberated from that cell. This “wash out” period can last for several months, delaying the full effects of the procedure.
During this time, we recommend patients continue with dietary and lifestyle changes designed to augment the effects of the EMSCULPT NEO treatment. While the device is very capable at reducing fat deposits and building muscle, the results can decline over time if not accompanied by appropriate behavioral changes. For anyone seeking expert help with optimizing their health, we offer a full in-house nutrition and lifestyle medicine program, run by our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Zach Wehmeyer.
How do I schedule an EMSCULPT consultation?
At MHB, we pride ourselves on providing our patients with the tools to thrive and reclaim their sense of freedom. Contact us for more information on our Core-to-Floor program for optimal sexual function, or for the EMSELLA or EMSCULPT independently.
If you or someone you know are suffering from urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, or hormonal imbalance, we’re here to help. For more information on our industry-leading care at Men’s Health Boston, click here. For a clinical evaluation, call our office or schedule an appointment with one of our providers today.