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Noninvasive combination procedure effective for upper arm fat reduction, muscle toning


AT ASDS 2022

Simultaneous use of high intensity focused electromagnetic field (HIFEM) and radiofrequency (RF) was safe and effective for muscle toning and fat reduction in the upper arm area, according to results from a study that analyzed results with MRI and other measures at two dermatology practices.

Simultaneous use of HIFEM and RF has been shown to be safe and effective “for fat reduction and muscle toning in various body parts,” lead study author Carolyn Jacob, MD, founder and director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, wrote in an abstract presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. This study investigated the effect of the HIFEM and RF procedure on muscle toning and adipose tissue in the upper arms.

founder and director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology.

Dr. Carolyn Jacob

In what Dr. Jacob described as the first study of its kind because magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to evaluate results, she and her coauthors enrolled 34 patients aged 23-72 years at two centers who had a BMI in the range of 18.5-33.9 kg/m2. The patients underwent four 30-minute bilateral procedures over the upper arms spaced 1 week apart with the Emsculpt NEO (BTL Aesthetics), which simultaneously delivers HIFEM and RF therapy.

NEO small sized applicators were used, which at the time of the study were under investigation but have since been cleared for use with the device. According to the manufacturer’s website, Emsculpt NEO is indicated for noninvasive lipolysis of the abdomen and thighs and reduction in the circumference of the abdomen and thighs in patients with skin types I-VI; and for noninvasive lipolysis of the upper arms “limited to skin types II and III and BMI 30 or under.”

The investigators measured changes in fat and triceps muscle tissue via MRI at baseline, 1-month, and 3-month follow-up visits. They also obtained digital photographs, administered patient questionnaires regarding comfort and satisfaction, and monitored safety of the treatments.

Of the 28 patients who completed their 1-month follow-up visit, analysis of MRI images showed a 22.3% average decrease in fat tissue from baseline MRIs (a decrease of 4.0 ± 1.2 mm; P < .01) and a 21.5% average increase in muscle mass (an increase of 8.2 ± 2.3 mm; P < .001). For the 25 patients who completed their 3-month follow-up visit, analysis of MRI images showed a 25.5% average decrease in fat tissue (a decrease of 4.9 ± 1.5 mm; P < .01) and a 23.9% average increase in muscle mass (an increase of 8.9 ± 2.0 mm; P < .001).

The analysis of questionnaires revealed high patient satisfaction with the results (87.1%), high comfort during the treatment (91.2%), and a low Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) score (1.6 ± 2.0) used to evaluate pain.

“This study shows that HIFEM and RF consistently increases muscle and decreases fat,” Dr. Jacob said in an interview. “It’s the only study on the triceps showing MRI evidence of fat loss with a nonsurgical body shaping device.”

She characterized the learning curve for the Emsculpt NEO as “small, as the previous Emsculpt small applicators have a similar fit.”

Pooja Sodha, MD, director of the center for laser and cosmetic dermatology at George Washington University, Washington, who was asked to comment on the study, said that the combination of radiofrequency energy and high-intensity focused electromagnetic technology triggers heat-induced damage of adipose tissue and muscle strengthening, respectively, to improve overall appearance and tone.

“Simultaneous delivery is the key here, and the real technological superhero, allowing us to take advantage of the synergistic effects of the muscle contractions and the tissue heating,” Dr. Sodha told this news organization. “Earlier this year, we saw published data on success with abdominal contouring with similar fat reduction and muscle enhancement as reported in this study, and these results persisted at 6 months,” with some declines noted at that time, she said.

“It is very encouraging and exciting to have similar effectiveness and safety for the arms, with such high satisfaction and comfort,” she added.

Dr. Jacob disclosed that she has conducted research studies for BTL Aesthetics since 2017 and is a member of the company’s advisory board. Dr. Sodha reported having no financial disclosures.

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