The pandemic has left gyms around the country closed for months—some are sadly closed for good—so more people are turning to other methods of fat-burning, especially when at-home workouts just aren’t producing gym-worthy results. This was the case for Olivia Culpo, which is one key reason why she tried Emsculpt NEO, a revolutionary new treatment that combines fat burning and muscle toning. On a recent Zoom meeting, the fashion and beauty influencer and former Miss Universe was joined by New York plastic surgeon Jennifer Levine, MD to give us an inside look at the noninvasive body-contouring device.
“Emsculpt NEO combines synchronized radio-frequency energy with HIFEM—electromagnetic pulses—to gently heat the tissue and allow the muscles to contract more effectively and efficiently than doing any exercise. Even if we worked out as hard as we could with the most effective trainer, the contractions in those muscles wouldn’t be as large or intense as this machine can do,” says Dr. Levine.
The treatment sounds too good to be true, but there’s serious science behind the technology. “A cute little story about Emsculpt: The way it came about was actually NASA approached BTL [Emsculpt’s parent company] because BTL does a lot of physical therapy. NASA said it needed help with its astronauts who are going up to space because at zero gravity, you lose a lot of muscle because there is no gravity to do the weight-bearing. They wanted the astronauts not to lose their muscle as quickly and to get back to function as quickly as possible, and that’s how they came up with the Emsculpt machine.”
So how is NEO different than the original Emsculpt? “The radio-frequency warms up the muscle, almost like you warm up for a workout, so it makes the contractions more effective,” Dr. Levine explains. “After it does the contractions, it does a series of tapping to release the lactic acid, so then the muscle is able to recover and be stimulated and effectively contract again. This is really a well-designed treatment. We can use the NEO on a lot more people than the regular Emsculpt because it treats people with a BMI of up to 35 percent, which is great.”
Culpo has been a big fan of the Emsculpt, and discovered NEO during quarantine. “Over time in quarantine, I lost some motivation to stick with my routine because it’s simply just not as fun as going to the gym. I was trying YouTube videos, Pilates classes online—every class I would go to in person, I would try the virtual version, but I just wasn’t seeing the same results. I’m still not seeing the same results, but I’ve been trying and that’s all we can do. Things will go back to normal eventually, but either way, for people looking to feel their best, the Emsculpt NEO is a great way to get back in shape without having to feel like you’re not giving it your all.”
“I had used the regular Emsculpt a number of my times on my butt, and that was to build muscle because I had always had a flatter butt and wanted more contour,” Culpo continues. “I felt like it was teaching my body to activate those muscles for everyday things I was doing, like bending down, walking up the stairs, walking in general. It kind of trains your body to focus on those muscle groups. You can totally see a difference. With the NEO, it just adds to that effect, especially in the ab area. I always wanted toned abs when I go to the gym, but it’s been difficult lately because we can’t go to the gym, so I was so happy when I got to try this machine. I went for one session, and I genuinely immediately felt like I was walking taller. I felt more toned, and I was even sore the next day in areas that I’ve just never been able to target in my normal ab routine.”
Dr. Levine says the recommended treatment protocol is four 30-minute treatments spaced one week apart, which is equivalent to 12 to 16 weeks of HIIT training. “It’s a much more effective workout than you could ever do by yourself,” she adds. “You can expect to see a 25-percent increase in muscle mass and a 30-decrease in the amount of fat, which can result in a 6 centimeter change in the abdominal circumference after four treatments. It also helps with diastasis recti, which is the abdominal muscle separation that can occur while you’re pregnant, and we’ve seen a 19-percent improvement in that. It kind of checks all the boxes. We also have a lot of patients with back pain, and one of the treatments for back pain is to strengthen your core to protect your back. This strengthens the core, and we’ve found it to be very effective for these patients.”
Though NEO is most effective on the abdomen, it can also be used on the butt, arms—triceps and biceps—and inner and outer thighs. “I’m dying to try it on my inner and outer thighs,” says Culpo. Dr. Levine notes that it’s also important to mention that during a buttock treatment, NEO will not destroy fat. “It will lift and tone, but it will not destroy fat. There are different protocols for different areas.”
Another plus: The treatment does the work for you. “You actually get a little sweaty under the paddle, as if you did a workout, so it’s very satisfying. That’s something I see with the NEO, but not with the original Emsculpt.” Culpo adds, “Literally you just lay there for 30 minutes and then you stand up and it looks like you went to the gym for like a week.”
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