DENVER – A device that provides electromagnetic stimulation to muscles is being investigated as a way to complement noninvasive body contouring.
Dr. Mathew M. Avram
The device, known as CoolTone, is being developed by Allergan and uses high-powered coil electromagnetic stimulation applicators to induce eddy currents in the muscle tissue. CoolTone is pending Food and Drug Administration clearance and is not yet commercially available.
“Fat reduction is just one part of body contouring,” Mathew M. Avram, MD, said at the annual conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. “You have skin, fat, and muscle. More and more we’re targeting all three areas for patients’ best body contouring outcomes.”
According to Dr. Avram, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center, Boston, CoolTone provides high-frequency electromagnetic muscle stimulation that triggers muscle contractions that cannot be achieved by normal exercise to increase muscle mass and strength. “You’re doing super physiological amounts of contractions with this stimulation – the equivalent of doing thousands of sit-ups, if you’re treating the abdomen,” he said. “It strengthens, tones, and firms muscles in abdomen, buttocks, arms, and legs. There is a history of this type of technology for athletes and other indications in physical therapy.”
The current FDA clearance for a predicate electromagnetic stimulation system for muscle conditioning is for the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, and arms. “This is for improvement of abdominal tone, strengthening of the abdominal muscles, and development of a firmer abdomen,” said Dr. Avram, who also is director of dermatologic surgery at Mass General. “It’s for strengthening, toning, and firming of buttocks and thighs, and for improvement of muscle tone and firmness, and for strengthening muscle in arms.”
The electrical current induced by the CoolTone device flows readily into muscle and not into fat, he continued. This brings the current to nearby motor nerve structures that stimulate contraction once the action potential is reached. “You’re getting maximal contractions that are extreme for a full range of muscle fibers,” explained Dr. Avram, who is the immediate past president of the ASLMS. “This requires an external electrical stimulus; it’s not something you do with normal exercise. With mild exercise, only the slow-twitch muscle fibers are activated, not the fast-twitch muscle fibers. Also, the pulsing sequences are designed to preferentially excite motor nerves rather than sensory nerves. So it’s really going after the ability for you to contract your muscles as much as possible.”
Dr. Avram has received consulting fees from Merz and Alastin and holds ownership interests with ZALEA, InMode, and Cytrellis. He has served on the advisory boards for ZELTIQ Aesthetics, Soliton, Sciton, and Sienna Biopharmaceuticals, and he has intellectual property rights with Cytrellis.