EMSculpt® Nonsurgical Fat Reduction: How Does It Compare to Liposuction?

Dr. David Stoker

woman admiring her waistline in the mirror

If you haven’t heard of EMSculpt yet, give it a few months. This nonsurgical body contouring option is turning heads in aesthetic medicine because it claims to build muscle, something completely new in the world of aesthetic enhancement. As a leader in body contouring (I’ve taught courses for both of the major plastic surgery societies for more than a decade, and I’ve also written extensively on the topic for both academic and media outlets), I’m watching how EMSculpt is being used and the results it’s producing. Before you rush to try this new treatment, take a closer look, especially with regard to how it stacks up against liposuction here in Los Angeles.

Although EMSculpt does show some promise for muscle enhancement in addition to fat reduction, it hasn’t yet been thoroughly proven. Presently, EMSculpt is only FDA cleared (a step below FDA approved) to treat the abdominal area, making it relatively limited in its possibilities. It also hasn’t yet been widely studied or evaluated, which means that it hasn’t been tested on enough people to draw serious conclusions about its effectiveness.

On the other hand, liposuction has been around for decades. Throughout that time, the techniques used for this procedure have been so deeply refined that liposuction can be administered nearly anywhere on the body, including the knees, double chin, and even the ankles.

One particularly attractive benefit of nonsurgical body contouring procedures is the need for close to zero downtime. Many procedures, including EMSculpt, boast a completely downtime-free experience that allows patients to go back to their normal daily activities immediately after the treatment is complete. Although the need for little to no downtime is true, it’s important to remember that EMSculpt  requires multiple procedures to achieve desired results. The manufacturer recommends a series of 4 treatments initially, with several maintenance treatments twice yearly afterward. This ongoing maintenance schedule can ultimately become quite expensive.

This stands in stark contrast to liposuction, which nearly always requires only 1 single surgery to create the appropriate outcome. For patients to maintain the results of liposuction, I merely recommend they follow their usual healthy lifestyles.

Another consideration is that liposuction and EMSculpt treat different types and areas of fat. While liposuction can be used on larger areas of fat, EMSculpt is, to date, primarily effective on smaller areas of abdominal fat that respond well to diet and exercise adjustments. Although undergoing a medical treatment to get rid of fat is appealing, you could achieve similar results—for a lot less money—just by amping up your workout and cutting down on carbs. Liposuction is better suited to the type of fat that doesn’t tend to respond to diet or exercise, making it a good complement to my patients’ normal healthy lifestyles.

The bottom line is this: While EMSculpt looks good on paper, it’s still too soon to recommend it as a reliable alternative to liposuction. If you’re in search of a body contouring procedure that really creates significant results, liposuction is still my (and my patients’) favorite choice. Take a look at my photo gallery and, when you’re ready, contact my office to come in for a consultation.

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