By Daley Quinn
Photo courtesy of Daley Quinn

Before testing EMSculpt, I hadn’t really ever considered trying a weight loss or fat reduction treatment. I am 5’2” and under 110 pounds, and while I could definitely lose a bit of fat and gain more muscle, it was never something that really weighed heavily on my mind. But, when I heard about EMSculpt’s potential to sculpt six-pack abs, I immediately signed up for a session.

EMSculpt is unlike other fat reduction treatments, which use fat-freezing methods or fat-melting lasers.  The new technology uses HIFEM electromagnetic energy to induce powerful muscle contractions called “super maximal muscle contractions.” These next-level contractions are so powerful, that they actually cannot be achieved through voluntary muscle action—just one 30-minute EMSculpt treatment is equivalent to doing 20,000 crunches. Currently FDA-cleared for strengthening, toning and firming the abdomen and buttocks, EMSculpt has been proven to reduce subcutaneous fat by 19% and increase muscle mass by 16%.

Although I wasn’t actually doing 20,000 crunches during the treatment, I was definitely sweating it out as if I had! Marnie Nussbaum, MD, New York City-based dermatologist, was my doctor during the 30-minute session, guiding me through the process and answering the millions of questions I had. Dr. Naussbaum had me lie down in her chair while she strapped the EMSculpt device around my stomach. I was surprised that I didn’t need to take off my pants or move my high-waisted leggings down to my hips—apparently the electromagnetic energy goes right through fabric.

Once I was all strapped in, Dr. Nussbaum described what would occur during the session. “The treatment won’t hurt, but it might feel a bit strange to you,” she explained. She told me that we would start EMSculpt at a low percentage, like 10-20%, and after 20 minutes, we would work our way up to 100% for the last 10 minutes of the treatment.

Photo courtesy of Daley Quinn

The first wave of energy was shocking, literally and figuratively. I have no other way to describe it other than the feeling of doing an actual crunch, but not physically moving your body, and having a device do it for you. It was probably the strangest sensation that I’d ever felt, mainly because I was surprised that it didn’t really hurt, and my muscles were contracting on their own. Thank God for Dr. Nussbaum’s incredible bedside manner, because I’m pretty sure she heard me say, “wow, this is so incredibly weird,” close to 1,000 times during my treatment.

After about 10 or so passes of energy from the EMSculpt, there came a strange tapping sensation that happened for about a minute, and then the EMSculpt would pass more electromagnetic energy to my abdomen. I asked Dr. Nussbaum what the tapping was, and she said, “oh, that’s the machine helping to flush lactic acid from the area, so that you’re not as sore from the treatment.”

After 20 minutes, we were ready to rev up the engine to 100% capacity, and I was a bit nervous about it. The first jolt at 100% was surprising, but after that, I got used to the intense energy for the remaining 10 minutes. Once my treatment was done, Dr. Nussbaum unstrapped me and sent me off on my merry way. No ice pack, ibuprofen, or escort home needed—I felt the exact same as I had when I arrived (albeit a bit more sweaty, admittedly). My abdomen did feel slightly sore the next day, but nothing too alarming.

Although I only got one treatment done, it’s advised that you have a minimum of four sessions, two to three days apart to really see drastic results. “Depending on your body type, you could see results immediately, then progressively over the following weeks,” says Dr. Alan Matarasso, President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. According to Dr. Naussbaum, the best candidate for someone who wants to try EMSculpt is a patient who is already fit but has not been able to achieve his or her ideal results through exercise alone.

It wasn’t until about two weeks later, on a beach vacation with my boyfriend, that I did a double take after looking at photos of me in a swimsuit. We took some pictures of us standing up in the ocean, and it almost looked as if I used an app to stretch out my torso. I couldn’t believe how flat my stomach looked in pictures, and even four weeks post treatment, I still notice the reduction in fat on my stomach. It might be hard to believe that only would treatment would change anything, but since I didn’t have too much fat to get rid of, I’m convinced that I have seen solid results. Although I don’t have six-pack abs (yet!), EMSculpt has helped me get one step further to a more toned, flatter tummy.