When I was offered the chance to try out Emsculpt, a non-invasive body-sculpting treatment, at Dr Natalia Novikova, the Aesthetic Gynaecologist’s Cape Town practice (she’s also in Joburg!), I leapt at the opportunity. I mean, who doesn’t want to build muscle while lying down and catching up on your reading? Plus, one session on your abs is supposed to equate to 20 000 sit-ups…
First, though, I had to work out what it actually involved. Here’s what I learnt: it’s a high-intensity focused electromagnetic technology procedure that induces powerful muscle contractions, which are not achievable through voluntary contractions. Woah, okay, that’s a bit of a mouthful, but, basically, the Emsculpt machine contracts your muscles in ways that you would not be able to on your own. I also learnt that you have choices when it comes to the muscles you can target — arms (triceps and bicep), stomach (abdominal), buttocks (gluteal), thighs and calves.
According to Dr Novikova, “when exposed to supramaximal contractions, the muscle tissue is forced to adapt to extreme conditions and it responds with a deep remodelling of its inner structure that results in muscle building and fat elimination.” So, you build muscle and burn fat. While lying down. Ah-mazing.
My Emsculpt experience
Right, I knew what it was, now it was time to try it out. I’ve always dreamt of having a Mapule Ndhlovu aka @queenfitnass six-pack, so, obviously, I chose to do my abs. For that I would need to go for four 30-minute sessions. I knew I wasn’t going to turn into Maps overnight, but a stronger core is never a bad thing, even if you can’t see the individual abs (which is a very hard thing to achieve), so I was really excited to get started.
The procedure is super simple: you lie on a bed and a band with a paddle is strapped into place (mine went around my middle with the paddle over my ab muscles). You can choose the intensity that you’re most comfortable with (anything from 0 to 100 percent) and you are left to buzz away for 30 minutes.
I’m more comfortable than my face would have you believe.
I started out on 60 percent in my first session and the intensity was adjusted every few minutes or so, until I was on 100 percent for the last few minutes. I’m not going to lie, it’s a very weird sensation (and the machine makes a sound akin to the alien from Alien) and it takes some getting used to, but it’s not unpleasant. It feels strange to have your muscles contract without you doing anything, but you quickly get used to it. By the third session, I was reading my book while my abs crunched away. Keep in mind that it can be quite an intense feeling, but if it gets too much for you, you can always adjust the intensity percentage until you’re comfortable. I actually really enjoyed my sessions and left with something similar to an endorphin high afterwards.
What are the benefits?
“Emsculpt safely offers non-invasive body sculpting by eliminating fat cells as well as strengthening and building muscle. It also boosts metabolism while retaining lean muscle tissue. A natural look is acquired from the treatment,” explains Novikova. It’s recommended for individuals who are in good shape and want to get rid of the last stubborn areas of fat or to increase existing muscle definition.
So, while it’s a great treatment, it’s important to remember that it’s not going to work miracles. It’s ideally suited for those who are looking for a final tightening up, not to burn off 10 kilos of body fat, while building a six-pack of dreams.
The best benefit, however, is that there are no negative effects associated with the procedures. “The efficacy and safety have been tested in 13 clinical studies by the most reputable scientific methods (MRI, CT, US and Histology). Some patients do experience some level of pain while using the device, as one would from a workout,” explains Novikova. However, “there is no pain or muscle soreness on the day after the treatment, as the muscle contraction cycles alternate with the cycle in which the lactic acid is removed from the muscle tissue, helping to clear lactic acid build-up,” says Novikova.
Emsculpt increases muscle strength, so it allows for fitness goals to be reached more easily. People who were inactive for a period of time due to injury, surgery and illness can build muscle strength with Emsculpt. It can also help us post-pregnancy. “Women after pregnancies may have their rectus muscle separated and Emsculpt abdominal muscle toning restores the anatomy and strengthens abdominal muscle,” says Novikova.
Let’s talk results
Before we get into the possible results, it’s important to remember that everyone is different and results will inevitably differ as well. It’s important to know your expectations and what is achievable before you start any treatment. So, when can you expect to see results? “Optimal results will be achieved after four sessions, though some individuals have seen a difference from the very first session. Further result from Emsculpt treatment is seen in three to six months.”
But is it possible to achieve these results on your own through diet and exercise? Dr Novikova says this is unlikely. “Food and diet play a huge role in lifestyle and health overall, though there is no recipe for obtaining a six-pack. A rigorous training regime and diet would likely need to be followed to achieve a fraction of the results of Emsculpt. We do however recommend a good diet and adequate exercise as maintenance even after undergoing Emsculpt treatment.”
Want to try it out yourself? Visit AestheticGynaecologist.com