Body contouring is about more than just fat reduction – muscle also plays a vital role. A new breakthrough technology takes this consideration to the next level, writes Dr Riekie Smit.
Normal human body composition comprises approximately 25% fat and 42% muscle tissue in males or 36% in females. There is, however, a major shift in the muscle to fat ratio of the body over the years. Muscle mass reduces with 3-5% per decade after the age of 30, and age-related muscle loss speeds up after 60, resulting in a 30-50% loss of muscle mass by the age of 80.
This becomes especially visible in geriatrics, through their loss of balance and muscle weakness leading to falls and more.
Over the years, the focus in non-surgical aesthetic treatments for the body has been on reducing cellulite, fat pockets and body skin tightening. Non-surgical treatments include mechanical massaging for lymphatic drainage and cellulite reduction and radiofrequency treatments that increase the temperature in an area to give a firming and localised metabolism-enhancing effect. Fat-freezing and ultrasound cavitation devices focus more on reducing localised fat pockets, while injection lipolysis treatments ‘dissolve’ unwanted fat pockets.
These treatments show good results and scientific data supports their efficacy, but we always see better results on cellulite and fat pocket treatments in patients following a healthy diet and exercise programme. This is because exercise contributes to weight maintenance and increased overall metabolism. As muscle mass increases your body’s resting metabolic rate increases. In fact, you even burn more calories while sleeping.
Muscles represent around 35% of the human body, but existing aesthetic treatments only address fat. Czech medical device company BTL is breaking new ground, however, with the introduction of its Emsculpt® technology, which offers a first-of-its kind, non-invasive body sculpting and butt-lifting treatment with a dual effect – addressing both muscle and fat.
By going beyond waist-line reduction and surgical buttock augmentation, Emsculpt helps patients achieve next-level contouring results. With the pioneering application of a unique magnetic field. HIFEM® technology penetrates skin to impact muscle tissue and belly fat. The energy induces almost 20 000 supramaximal muscle contractions accompanied by a rapid metabolic reaction in fat cells to strengthen and build muscle, and also reduce fat. To put it in other words, a 30-minute abdominal session is equivalent to 20 000 intense sit-ups. This is the only technology that builds muscle and burns fat simultaneously, all while leaving the surrounding tissues unaffected.
How does it work?
High-intensity Focused Electromagnetic (HIFEM) field technology utilises the principles of magnetic stimulation. It is based on the application of rapidly changing magnetic fields that generate electrical currents in the underlying tissue, where it depolarises motor neurons and causes muscle contractions. If the frequency of the stimulation is higher than the time needed for the muscle relaxation, the muscle is forced into tetanic contraction, which is a highly stressful condition triggering changes in the muscles as an adapting response to these conditions.
These 20 000 muscle contractions in a session can never be achieved through normal voluntary muscle action. An untrained individual can only activate 40-60% of muscle potential. Complete tetanic state is different from normal muscle contractions and achieves maximum tension in the muscle. HIFEM-induced contractions not only increase muscle mass but also lead to a hypermetabolic state with a rapid release of free fatty acids in fat tissue – as a sign of fat cell destruction.
Tested in seven unique clinical studies using all four established methods of evaluation – MRI, CT, ultrasound and histology – Emsculpt delivered consistent results in muscle gain and fat loss:
- 19% reduction in subcutaneous abdominal fat2,3
- 16% increase in muscle mass2,3
- 4 cm average waist reduction5
- 95% satisfaction with treatment results6
- 11% volumetric growth on the gluteal muscles (buttocks).
For these optimal results, four 30-minute treatment sessions over the course of a two-week period are recommended. Best results will be seen several weeks after the procedure with continued improvement over the next few months.
Abdomen: the most popular treatment region is the abdominal region where it helps to build the muscles, strengthen the core muscles and reduces fat.
Buttocks: this is the first non-surgical buttock lift with approval. The treatment helps to increase muscle strength and bulk in the buttocks (especially in the upper part), giving a lifting effect. A study done on 75 patients receiving the four sessions of buttock treatment showed 85% improvement in buttock appearance.
Now, there are also new smaller applicators to treat the arms, inner thighs, calves or other small regions where muscle mass needs to be improved.
The treatment is suitable for most people, but there are some who cannot undergo treatment due to the electromagnetic technology – those with heart pacemakers, implanted defibrillators or neurostimulators, metal or electronic implants in the region of treatment or who have had recent surgery over the region. Pregnancy or breastfeeding, and certain illnesses and medications may also affect the suitability for treatment.
To ensure good treatment results, you need to have:
- pinchable fat that can be pulled from the body
- distinct bulges or fat bulges (but not in excess)
- healthy skin, not too loose.
You may not have very visible results if you have:
- non-pinchable fat or no visible fat pockets
- excess overall body fat (obesity)
- unhealthy skin or very loose skin
- visceral fat.
How does it differ from other technologies?
HIFEM provides the most effective reduction in waist circumference because it treats both muscle and fat, which is also why the results continue improving after treatment has stopped – muscle metabolism is enhanced to continue drawing energy from overlying fat stores. What also distinguishes HIFEM is that it is ideal for those wanting to build muscle as a treatment outcome.
While this technology is revolutionary, it doesn’t mean you can eat chocolates every day and just lie on the couch – we still haven’t found a cure for laziness and gluttony. But, medical science is advancing to make it easier to reach our body goals and increase our confidence and happiness. And a six-pack on the beach will definitely make anybody happier and more confident.
- Kent D, Jacob C. Computed tomography (CT) based evidence of simultaneous changes in human adipose and muscle tissues following a High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Field (HIFEM) application: a new method for non-invasive body sculpting.
- Kinney B, Lozanova P. High-Intensity Focused Electro-Magnetic (HIFEM) therapy evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Safety and efficacy study of a dual tissue effect based non-invasive abdominal body shaping.
- Katz B., Bard R., Goldfarb R., Shiloh A., Kenolova D. Changes in subcutaneous abdominal fat thickness following High-Intensity Focused Electro-Magnetic (HIFEM) field treatments: A multi center ultrasound study.
- Weiss R, Bernardy J. Induction of fat apoptosis by a non-thermal device: safety and mechanism of action of non-invasive HIFEM technology evaluated in a histological porcine model.
- Jacob C., Paskova K. A novel non-invasive technology based on simultaneous induction of changes in adipose and muscle tissues: Safety and efficacy of a high intensity focused electro-magnetic field device used for abdominal body shaping.
- Busso M., Denkova R. Efficacy of High Intensity Focused Electro-Magnetic field therapy when used for non-invasive buttocks augmentation and lifting: A clinical study.
Written by Dr Riekie Smit – MBChB, MSc Sports Med, Adv Dip Aesth Med
- Dr Smit has a private practice in Pretoria, South Africa. Her focus of her practice is aesthetic medical procedures for face, body and skin treatments www.drriekie.co.za
- Honorary secretary of AAMSSA (Aesthetic & Anti-Ageing Medicine Society of South Africa).
- Faculty member of the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine.
- Chairperson of the Aesthetic Medicine Congress South Africa (AMCSA).
- President member of the International Union of Aesthetic Union.
A2 Disclaimer: This article is published for information purposes only, nor should it be regarded as a replacement for sound medical advice.
This article was written by Dr Riekie Smit and edited by the A2 team EXCLUSIVELY for the A2 Aesthetic & Anti-Ageing Magazine Dec 2019 Edition (Issue 32).
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