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Emsculpt vs. Coolsculpting: What’s the Difference?

As the holidays inch their way closer every day, are you looking for a way to proactively get your body on track? Overwhelmed by the different options? You’re not alone! As we’re gearing up for the new year, getting our mind and body to a healthy and fit place is already an uphill battle, you shouldn’t have to struggle through understanding your options, too. Dr. Wright breaks down the differences between two leading, non-invasive body contouring treatments that are popular in his St. Louis office – EmSculpt vs. CoolSculpting. He and his team are here to help you easily determine if either option is right for you. 

Both procedures have been cleared by the FDA as safe. Both are non-invasive, do not require anesthesia or any extended downtime, and do not require incisions or needles of any kind. Patients of both procedures report some soreness and prefer to take the rest of the day easy after their procedures, but these side effects are limited to soreness and nothing more serious than that. So what’s the difference between Emsculpt and CoolSculpting? 

Reducing Fat: CoolSculpting

CoolSculpting has been FDA-approved since 2010. Since then, over 6 million treatments have been done around the world. Often referred to as non-surgical liposuction, CoolSculpting is a fat reduction treatment that uses alternative methods to target and eliminates unwanted fat cells by means of a procedure applied topically, through the skin. CoolSculpting uses controlled, freezing temperatures to target superficial fat cells, freezing them until they die. After the procedure, the fat cells are flushed from the patient’s body within a short period of time, with final results seen after about three months. 

More specifically, CoolSculpting uses a fat-freezing technology called cryolipolysis, and an applicator that suctions the skin into cups where they are brought to a cold enough temperature to cause fat cells to die. Non-surgical liposuction in St. Louis, such as CoolSculpting, is recommended for people who are already at their ideal weight but want to reduce fat in troublesome areas that have been unaffected by diet and exercise. 

Those who undergo Coolsculpting will participate in 1-4 sessions as recommended by the performing physician, with virtually no recovery period. Treatment sessions can go from 35 minutes and up to about 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on the size of the treatment area and what your doctor determines is necessary. On average, most procedures last about 45 minutes. Patients are free to resume normal activities the same day as the procedure is completed and generally experience minimal pain. 

Coolsculpting is usually a bit more expensive, especially if two or more treatments are needed, but for those who prefer to avoid the more invasive liposuction procedures, this can be a preferred alternative. While it does appear to work, it only results in a twenty-five percent reduction of fat in the treated area or areas, without contracting the skin. While it’s common for patients to experience temporary numbness, soreness, and some swelling, major side effects are rarely encountered. The majority of CoolSculpting patients in St. Louis reported that their session was mostly comfortable, with a few minutes at the beginning of extremely cold temperatures in the treatment area. CoolSculpting can treat areas such as under the chin and jawline, thighs, the belly area, back and sides of your body, under the buttocks, along the bra line, or on the upper arms. Most often, patients use CoolSculpting to address stubborn fat in the abdomen and flanks, the area between your rib cage and your hip on the side of the body (often referred to as “love handles”).

Toning Muscle: EmSculpt

EmSculpt is a much newer technology but also has an excellent safety record, is non-invasive, and is also backed by the FDA. While CoolSculpting is used to reduce unwanted fatty tissue or bulges, EmSculpt mimics your body’s own movements, forcing muscles in the targeted area to contract, just as they would by doing crunches, sit-ups, or squats. The EmSculpt machine uses electromagnetic waves, also known as HIFEM – High Intensity, Focused Electro-Magnetic energy. This energy is focused on the targeted treatment area to force your muscles to contract rapidly for about half an hour, and allows your body to experience the results as if you did 20,000 crunches on your own. 

Over the course of several sessions, EmSculpt provides visible results that include increased abdominal muscle definition, less lower belly fat, and a more defined waistline.EmSculpt can treat the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, and arms. EmSculpt is administered with a hand-held device that is run over the surface of the skin for the duration of treatment. The electromagnetic waves of varying lengths and increasing intensity provide a gradual increase in muscle contraction over the course of the 30-minute period, causing the body to burn fat and increase muscle tone. It’s common for your body to continue this higher level of fat burning for several weeks after treatment, meaning you’ll continue to see results even as your last session is completed. 

A single session can be completed in half an hour and is an extremely comfortable experience for patients. Many patients are drawn to EmSculpt not only because it provides consistently effective results, but also because it’s highly safe. This out-patient procedure does not require a patient to book a hospital stay or run any of the risks associated with the use of general anesthesia or a long recovery period. This means there’s no bandages, no incisions, no time off work, and no bed-ridden recovery time. In fact, if you’re looking to focus on a butt lift, EmSculpt is the only non-invasive procedure in this area! 

In fact, in four Emsculpt sessions, patients can expect similar results in muscle building that they would normally see in 12 to 16 weeks of working out 3 times a week at their gym.

Expected Results of Emsculpt treatment:

  • Up to 30% reduction of fat in the treated area.
  • Up to 25% more muscle in the treated area.
  • Up to 19% reduction in abdominal separation.
  • Up to 6 cm of waist circumference reduction /[ 2 1/2 inches smaller waistline] shown both by MRI and Ultrasound.

EmSculpt results can be seen significantly more quickly than many other procedures (and more importantly, quicker than more invasive procedures). Physicians typically recommend that patients who decide to use EmSculpt to tone and sculpt their body do so over a course of between 2 and 4 sessions, that fall within 2 to 3 days of each other to achieve optimal results. Many patients report feeling more toned after their first session, however, dramatic and visible results are generally seen in the 2-4 weeks following a session as fat cells continue to disappear,and muscles continue to tone up. Patients looking for long-term results after undergoing EmSculpt will find that their toned and sculpted physique is likely to remain that way with the continued commitment to diet and exercise. Many patients choose to continue regular sessions in order to improve their overall appearance for years to come.

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Which Option is Best for You?

Overall, CoolSculpting will be ideal for patients looking to lose one or two small stubborn areas of fat or fatty tissue, and EmSculpt will help patients take their muscle tone to the next level. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide what’s right for you – but don’t feel like you must limit yourself! Speak with an expert to determine what combination – if you want to try both – will work best for your body type. 

If you’re looking for a small (~25%) reduction in fat loss in any given problem area, and you’re not too worried with drastic results, CoolSculpting might be the right option for you. While the procedure does seem to work, many patients are looking for more than about a quarter reduction in their treatment areas – but that’s up to you and should be based on your goals. CoolSculpting is typically not recommended for patients with loose skin, poor skin tone, cryoglobulinemia (a condition where abnormal proteins in your blood thicken in colder temperatures), Cold Urticaria (a skin condition causes hives when cold), or Paroxysmal Cold Hemoglobinuria (a type of anemia that destroys your red blood cells in cold temperatures). 

Emsculpt, on the other hand, may also provide you fat loss while it works to increase your muscle tone and, as a result, be the best of both worlds. However, it’s important to note that the phrase “use it or lose it!” truly applies to the EmSculpt option. While CoolSculpting kills fat cells permanently, muscle tone is something patients must continue to work on, and your provider may also recommend multiple EmSculpt treatments. This typically hasn’t been a pain point (no pun intended, treatments aren’t painful!) for our St. Louis EmSculpt patients, who are happy with their initial results and are ready and excited to see continued progress through additional treatments. 

EmSculpt vs. CoolSculpting Providers

Additionally, finding an expert on administering your EmSculpt or CoolSculpting treatment is just as important as picking which option you prefer. In the end, the person administering your treatments will determine how successful they are, and can be the difference between noticeable results or a waste of your time and money. With CoolSculpting, it can make the difference between measurable fat loss and none at all—you’ll want your provider to have aesthetic medical training and knowledge of anatomy, proportion, and symmetry to ensure a satisfying and worthwhile result. For Emsculpt, your provider must know how to tune the machine safely to avoid causing any damage from too high an intensity.  That’s why it is so important to speak with an experienced, trustworthy provider before investing in a treatment, even though neither EmSculpt or CoolSculpting are surgical procedures. Many take for granted that these non-surgical procedures are just as challenging as liposuction or other cosmetic surgeries, and must be conducted by reputable providers. 

One thing is for sure –  you could spend every day of your life doing crunches and still won’t reach the level of muscle contraction that one EmSculpt session provides. Contact our office today with questions, we’re here to help!

Dr. Wright’s team of St. Louis-based medical professionals are dedicated to providing a comprehensive approach to patient care. When we schedule your initial consultation, we set aside the necessary time for Dr. Wright to review your medical history and speak one-on-one about the different options available to you, according to your specific and personal goals. We know that every cosmetic procedure comes with an emotional impact and expectation, and we believe every patient deserves an experience that is comfortable, safe, and successful.  An initial consultation is also the best time for patients to voice any questions, concerns, or preferences they may have prior to setting up a personalized treatment plan. In the event that insurance coverage is not an option, our team is here to walk you through the several alternative options we provide for handling payments and financing treatment. Schedule your consultation today and begin a transformative journey that could be life changing!

Please note: While EmSculpt is designed as a treatment option for toning muscle and CoolSculpting for reducing fat, it is important to note that neither is a solution for significant weight loss. The ideal EmSculpt or CoolSculpting candidate will be close to their ideal BMI prior to undergoing treatment of any kind and already adheres to diet and exercise on a daily basis. Similarly, neither EmSculpt nor CoolSculpting are ideal solutions for patients who are pregnant, have a history of seizures or heart issues, or struggle with hernias. Those who have recently undergone surgery of any type are not ideal candidates for EmSculp or CoolSculpting.