“Genetics, lifestyle, hormones and fat percentage all play a part, which is why it is generally more difficult for women to achieve abs as they naturally have a higher body fat percentage,” says Dr Karen Soh, Medical Director of Privé Clinic.
Fortunately, medical science has delivered a glimmer of hope – in a treatment called Emsculpt. One of the most popular new body-sculpting solutions to hit the medi-aesthetics market over the past few years, it uses high-intensity focused electromagnetic energy to build muscle strength, improve muscle laxity and burn fat at the same time.
A world first, this non-invasive treatment induces supramaximal muscle contractions so powerful that they exceed the highest amount of tension muscles can voluntarily exert and hold during exercise. In a 30-minute session alone, Emsculpt causes 20,000 muscle contractions – akin to doing the same number of sit-ups, squats, curls or extensions, depending on which area is treated. This FDA-approved technology also fully activates the muscles across the entire muscle group, which is not possible nor natural for the human body during strength training. The intense contractions cause muscles to start to remodel and, essentially, grow in density and volume.
Clinically tested for safety and efficacy by seven independent US- based studies, Emsculpt can be used on the arms, tummy, thighs and buttocks. “According to the studies, the treatment can burn up to 19 per cent fat while increasing muscle mass by 16 per cent. The additional muscles built will also increase metabolism, and continue to burn fat after every session. However, as with all muscles, constant engagement is required for maintenance. If you don’t use them by working out regularly, you will lose them,” Dr Soh adds.
Emsculpt is suitable for healthy individuals with a low enough BMI and body fat percentage for muscle definition results to show, she says. Her patients are generally fit and aged between 30 and 50, work out regularly but seek more defined abs and arms. As Emsculpt is also particularly useful for diastasis recti (postnatal muscle separation), her clinic sees a small pool of new mothers who want to strengthen their core muscles. “They feel comfortable with Privé as we have two female doctors who are able to understand and cater to their needs.”
I am intrigued as Emsculpt does sound too good to be true, especially since it requires no recovery time or any pre/post-treatment preparation. Could lying down for half an hour really offer me the toning and trimming my core workouts couldn’t achieve for my abdomen? As I find out over three treatments, it is that simple and quick. You lie down on the treatment bed while the nurse places two paddles over the treated area and secures them with a velcro belt, and spend the next half an hour looking at your phone or replying to texts. When you’re done, you put on your clothes and can leave immediately.
What takes some time to get used to is, of course, Emsculpt’s intensity. During the first segment of the treatment, the machine triggers long cycles of pulses with regular breaks of two to three seconds. My nurse starts off the machine at 70 per cent and dials it up by 5 per cent with every subsequent set until it reaches 100 per cent. My initial reaction is that of mild discomfort and shock – imagine the sensation of the deepest-ever cramp but without the pain. After what seems like more than 10 cycles, the second phase kicks in – the machine loudly “taps” the muscles to flush out toxins and lactic acid so that they do not feel sore.
During the start of my first session, I burst out giggling and begin to perspire – there is no doubt that my muscles are working hard. As the minutes pass, your body will start to relax and get used to the sensation and rhythm. I also learn to take a deep breath during the intervals. Although three sessions aren’t enough to see dramatic results and my tummy bulge is clearly still there, the faint lines that run down the sides of my abdomen have deepened. My midsection feels more compact, and it is also easier to do sit-ups in the following days. I read that some people may feel an ache in the muscles post-treatment, but I do not even experience an odd twinge. It is quite amazing.
For best results, Dr Soh recommends that Emsculpt be done twice a week, with a three- to four-day interval. For the body beautiful who have turned to fat-melting treatments to reduce stubborn pockets of fat, Emsculpt is a superb complement to enhance the body-contouring results. If three sessions already offer visible improvements, imagine what a targeted and holistic plan could do.
(Main and featured image: Aleksandar Pasari/Pexels)
This story was published in the March 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.