How A Fitness Instructor Used Emsculpt For Post-Surgery Recovery
This summer, life-long athlete and fitness guru Fleur Maxwell took the advice of board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon Ryan Neinstein, MD, to have an Emsculpt treatment — a procedure intended for body contouring — on her buttocks in the aftermath of her full hip replacement surgery. The purpose? To improve recovery. Eager to get back to her virtual classes, the Body by Fleur creator hoped the high-intensity electromagnetic therapy would engage the muscles in her bum so it could support her body while it healed and boost mobility.
Emsculpt for Recovery
Maxwell, a former figure skater, had Emsclupt once before on her abs for its intended use of improving muscle tone and loved the results. So, while using the treatment to boost performance and healing was a new thought, it was one she embraced. “I usually work out every day for hours, so having to be on the couch for two weeks on painkillers was hard,” she shares. “And even though I was doing physical therapy, I felt like I couldn't get my muscles to activate with the implant in. My body was not working at all.”
She insists the treatment of her glutes had a big impact on her hip. “After one session [of two], I could already use my muscles in my hip so much better,” she recalls. “I walked out of the office, and I had a great gait.” While she doesn’t credit the procedure alone for healing her hip, it was “so helpful” in getting her over what she calls her “initial post-surgery slump.”
And that was exactly the idea. By helping her activate her core (which include the large glute muscles), Dr. Neinstein sought to aid her recovery by keeping her body strong and preventing atrophy. He had seen it work for other patients, but, when it comes to athletes and fitness professionals like Maxwell, he calls it a “huge breakthrough” for recovery. “It reduces the downtime from top competition by several months,” he says.
The Pros and Cons of Emsculpt for Recovery
When you consider how Emsulpt works, it’s purported healing and recovery benefits are understandable. “The system is based on electromagnetic technology and causes a deep muscle stimulation that, in theory, induces about 20,000 muscle contractions per session without any effort on the patient,” explains Charles Galanis, MD, a double board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Los Angeles.
In other words, it’s like a sweat-free workout that keeps muscles in shape. “If a patient were compromised and unable to otherwise perform the physical fitness regimen recommended or required for building muscle during their healing, it could perhaps be an alternative or adjunct method to achieve the core strength,” he says.
However, it’s important to note the “perhaps” part. Using the device in this way is both new and off-label (read: not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration). Some doctors, like Bruce Katz, MD, a board certified dermatologist in NYC, have seen it in action and say it “worked incredibly well” thanks to its “amazing ability to build muscle.” Others, like Jason Roostaeian, MD, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon and associate clinical professor at UCLA, would like to see more information before forming an opinion. Even so, many agree it shows promise. While Dr. Roostaeian awaits more research, he says he could see potential for it to increase blood flow and reduce swelling through vibrations.
For patients interested in giving it a go, it’s important to note that the doctors who include the use of Emsculpt in recovery plans do so with several caveats. First, “it is not designed to be a miracle or a cure-all,” Dr. Galanis says. Doctors also caution that it wouldn’t be appropriate to use over any metal hardware or directly on healing wounds, and adding it to your post-surgical care strategy would require full medical approval from both the surgeon and primary care physician. Ultimately, he says checking with your care team “is the only way to determine a specific-patient program for post-operative care and healing.”