Realistically, lots of pain, time and discipline goes into diet and training to shed some weight. (Or if supermodels are to be believed, lots of lemon water and cutting out alcohol, sugar, dairy and anything else that brings you joy).
News flash: the tables have turned. Now, you can literally lay down and be strapped to a machine that spot trains your problem areas.
This is exactly what happens during a session of Emsculpt — a revolutionary lunchbreak treatment that promises a non-surgical six pack (or butt lift) in as little as eight weeks.
But does it really work?
It was 5pm on a Friday night when I hopped out of a cab and headed straight into Dr. Saras’ Sydney clinic for my complimentary Emsculpt treatment. More curious than nervous, I reclined patiently while one of the nurses strapped a paddle over my stomach (i.e. where I wish I had a six pack).
The nerves were non-existent until she asked, “Have you had any children?”
“Um, no,” I croaked back.
“Oh OK. It’s just the way it feels, some people compare it to those first little contractions you get in early labour.”
Already strapped in and too stubborn to quit, I just squeezed my eyes shut and braced myself for an (apparent) early introduction to motherhood.
I can honestly say the first few minutes are jarring. I nervously babbled through them while the nurse laughed sympathetically and I struggled to remember why I was there in the first place.
Dr Saras Sundrum, cosmetic physician and founder of Dr Saras & Co., had mentioned beforehand that it was “intense” but not “painful”. Personally, I would describe it as an involuntary shake-up of the ovaries.
There are “relaxing” half-minutes woven in so the body, assisted by some sharper pulses, can get rid of lactic acid build-up. It can also set off some slight cramping (I copped a bit in my left leg, but nothing major).
And that’s only if you’re treating the abdominals. These funky paddles can also be slapped onto your glutes for a non-invasive booty lift that would make even Kimmy K proud.
Fun fact: she’s already tried the treatment and loves it. Fans of Keeping Up With the Kardashians (available on Foxtel) were buzzing after the cameras followed her into an Emsculpt session.
So I won’t lie: this is not comfortable. Tolerable, yes. But not comfortable.
You may find yourself a bit winded as the machine forces your abs to fire up. After all, the applicators are literally forcing your body to burn fat and build muscle.
It’s the fact that most machines only do one — not both — is the game changer.
“In that one 30-minute session, you are getting 20,000 supramaximal contractions. You could not do that on your own in the gym. No normal person can do that,” explained Dr Saras.
Immediately after my first session, I sat up feeling physical tingles in my lower body. But dare I say it, my core already felt a bit tighter.
“The first one’s always the worst,” Dr Saras told me. And she was right.
Maybe it was because I knew what to expect, but I found the remaining three sessions much more manageable.
According to Dr. Saras, this treatment is best suited to people who eat well, exercise regularly and are already within a healthy weight range. “These devices aren’t excusing patients from doing proper exercise or dieting, it’s just an add-on,” she said. “And it’s motivation for them to keep going.”
Hitting the gym the next morning, I had no delayed onset muscle soreness (a miracle!) and even threw in some core work at the end of my session. I kid you not, those last few reps weren’t even a struggle (and I’m normally shaking by that point).
After speaking to another patient who’d had her abs treated, I realised I wasn’t alone.
“I already felt stronger after the second session,” Julia, 27, told News.com.au. “I didn’t struggle as much doing certain exercises, I wasn’t fatiguing as quickly. And from the final session, I could visually see a change.”
Julia wasn’t the only one to be floored by her results. Elona, 30, was sceptical the treatment would help heal her abdominal separation after four pregnancies. “That’s gone now, it’s closed up completely. I am actually genuinely shocked,” she told News.com.au. “I can’t believe it’s fused that muscle back together.”
The busy mum is thrilled with her results, and described the treatment as low-maintenance.
“I don’t even go to the gym,” she admitted. “But as you can see, I had a bit of loose skin too. And no amount of going to the gym would’ve helped me achieve what I did with Emsculpt.”
Elona did her treatment with Dr. Ian Chinsee, a cosmetic surgeon who introduced Emsculpt to his patients after test-driving the treatment himself.
“I’ve always been very sceptical of non-surgical body contouring, so I’ve tried several of these machines. And this was the only one that worked,” he explained.
“No one has really seen a machine like this before,” said Dr. Chinsee. “It differs to what’s currently on the market mainly because the fat burning is not the primary thing that it does. It’s really a muscle builder. So fat reduction — and sometimes skin tightening — is a pleasant side effect of that.”
Doctors recommend a series of four sessions to be completed within two weeks, followed by periodic maintenance touch ups (if required). At around $1000 a pop, it’s not cheap. But it’s an option many are willing to consider just to avoid going under the knife.
Non-invasive body contouring treatments are bang on-trend at the moment. And based on the star power being thrown behind these devices — think Jennifer Lopez, Hailey Bieber and Drew Barrymore, just to name a few — it’s no wonder people will happily drop a few thousand on a treatment.
“People are willing to pay the big bucks if it produces results and they can fit it into their lifestyle,” said Dr Saras. “And this ticks all the boxes. It’s safe, it’s quick … and it really works. It produces real results.”
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, non-surgical fat reduction procedures are up 50 per cent in the past five years. And with new applicators being rolled out this month to be used on formerly untreatable trouble zones, doctors are bracing for a surge in interest.
“The new applicators, I’m told, will be able to treat biceps, triceps, inner and outer thighs, calves — so it’s almost a whole-body solution,” said Dr Chinsee.
And as always, best to check with your doctor before trying a new treatment (especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions).
As for my results? It’s been around two months since my last Emsculpt treatment and brace yourselves: I can confidently say my waist is trimmer. For me, it’s less about the measurements — I only recorded a difference of 1.8cm in my midsection. But for the first time in my life, I have little obliques. For the record, I’ve never had those. Like, ever.
The appearance of the area treated rather than the size is where I think you see the change – I’m talking muscles in places you’ve never seen before.
While my visual results weren’t overly drastic, the improvement of my core strength was mind-blowing. Higher reps and endless planking are my thing now (yeah, I’m that person).
So regardless of whether or not I have JLo’s six-pack, I’ll happily settle for the more defined four-pack I never knew I had.
Now, when’s that effortless tricep applicator coming along?
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