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"The ice age is over," declared Lee Boulderstone, the director of BTL Enterprises at the launch of the company's new body sculpting device, EMSculpt. But in a world where new body contouring devices boasting big claims seem to hit the market with resounding regularity - is he right? What's so different about EMSculpt?

Let me explain. Traditional body sculpting devices use either heat, cold (eg fat freezing – hence the ‘ice age’ comment) to break down fat cells and spot reduce fat in the areas treated. To generate the heat they use radio frequency, ultrasound or more recently, microwaves. The fat freezing devices cool the fat cells. What they all have in common is their ability to burst the fat cells and the body excretes the waste.

EMSculpt is different. It uses electromagnetic waves to stimulate the muscle. At first, my initial thought was ‘here we go, it’s another one of those stick on electrode devices where you watch your muscle contract and the fat wobble with no real effect,’ but, it seems I was very wrong.

Like those devices, it does cause the muscle to contract, but the rate is vastly different. In the space of 30 minutes the area being treated – usually the buttocks or the abdomen – contract a massive 19880 times (let’s just say 20K!) It pretty much a 30 minute long muscle contraction. This has two main effects – it increases muscle mass and it breaks down the fat in that treatment area.

How does it work?
Results after 8 treatments

How does it work? Well, as the muscle contracts at such a rapid rate – the equivalent of 20,000 sit ups or if your getting the butt lift, around 20,000 squats, the muscle needs food to fuel the activity. Hormones are sent into action to summon the fat to release energy but because it’s such an intense localised activity and it needs the fuel fast, the body very cleverly releases it from the fat cells in the same area. The process causes apoptotis – or cell death for the fat cells as they struggle to fill the muscle’s demand for energy.

Now, you may remember back from biology classes – or you personal trainer telling you – that you can’t ‘spot reduce’ fat when you exercise, but this technology changes that and they say they have the science to back up the claims.

The company has done around 7 studies including MRI, CT scans and Ultrasound as well as biopsies (where they take a bit of tissue and analyse it) and what they’ve found is that the device deliver significant muscle gain and fat loss. They’ve shown that two months after 4 treatment sessions it produces a:

19% reduction in subcutaneous abdominal fat
16% increase in muscle mass
an average 4.4cm reduction in waist circumference.

The overall result – the company claims it is the world’s only non-invasive procedure procedure to help both women and men build muscle and sculpt their body. In addition, it’s the world’s first non-invasive buttock lift procedure that lifts and firms the bottom.

For both, the results last around 6 months.

The other positives about this treatment is that it’s absolutely painless (yes, you can feel the muscles contracting), and there’s no downtime. There’s no discomfort during or afterwards or red marks and you don’t even need to take your clothes off! It may feel like you’ve had an intense work out.

While they know it improves core strength there is anecdotal evidence that it can improve posture and relieve back pain. (It was originally used in physiotherapy and adapted to the cosmetic world when they noticed the fat loss and muscle growth benefits.)

Can everyone have it?

Pretty much. It works best for people with a low or normal body mass index (BMI) but the manufacturers says most people, apart from the morbidly obese, will see a benefit.

Obviously if your pregnant it’s off limits, but if you happen to find that your abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy (which can happen as the baby grows) they’ve found this treatment can sometimes help in bringing them back to the centre line and in improving their strength after the birth.

How much is EMSculpt?

So how much does it cost? It’s not a cheap machine, and the prices reflect that with each session costing around the £700+ mark. It’s important to note that this is not a replacement for exercise or a healthy lifestyle.

At the moment there are only a handful of clinics with this device in the UK, but keep your eyes peeled as they’ll be popping up everywhere very soon.

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