Physical alteration with no downtime and visible results in a matter of months may as well be a tagline from the outdated infomercials of the ‘90s – these in-office options seem too good to be true, right? Before getting into aesthetic medicine, I viewed non-surgical body contouring as a gimmick to get people in the door. Often promising instant benefits, it felt as though there was some trickery going on behind the scenes. However, after speaking with countless experts, reading testimonials, and seeing other patients’ results (here’s one example), I knew I wanted to try a non-invasive body contouring procedure myself.
With the announcement of Cutera’s truSculpt® Flex+, it felt like a breakthrough in technology to deliver better results in less time. But wait, there's more! The treatments shave 30 minutes off the 45-minute version of years past. The muscle-stimulation device calls for four 15-minute sessions within a two-week period to improve strength, tone, and tautness.
For me, the goal has always been to increase strength and add volume to my buttocks, which I haven’t been able to achieve with workouts alone. Basically, I was looking for the results of a butt lift without, you know, the surgery or extensive downtime. If this non-invasive treatment could provide me with even the slightest gains and an improvement in my lifting, it would be worth it. So, needless to say, when I was invited to try truSculpt® Flex+ with Edward Alvarez, DDS, at Madison Avenue Face and Body in New York City, I couldn't book fast enough.
Did my dreams of a perkier posterior come true? Read on to find out – and to see my before and after photos for yourself.
What Is truSculpt® Flex+?
In simplest terms, truSculpt® Flex+ “is an electrical muscle stimulation machine,” Dr. Alvarez explains. It is cleared by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the improvement of abdominal tone, strengthening of the abdominal muscles, and development of a firmer abdomen. It is also cleared for strengthening, toning, and firming the buttocks and thighs. At his practice, the technology is regularly employed on the arms, abs, glutes, thighs, and calves.
For two weeks in January, Dr. Alvarez became my personal trainer of sorts – shaping my buttocks while offering insight into the treatment and, at times, providing me with emotional support during the more intense parts of the glute-building experience. A diplomate of the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine and member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Dr. Alvarez informed me that truSculpt® Flex+ uses a proprietary Multi-Directional Stimulation technology “to target specific areas of the muscle imitating the motions we would do at the gym.” What separates this from a workout, however, is that “the Flex+ allows us to do it in 15 minutes,” he notes.
So, what happens in these 15 minutes of muscle-growing? “It’s 54,000 contractions, different motions of the muscle such as pulling, compressing, twisting, and even bouncing to stimulate them,” he explains. “This replicates the motions we’d do in the gym, but it surpasses that past exhaustion.”
What Is the truSculpt® Flex+ Treatment & Recovery Like?
Unlike other muscle-building procedures on the market that have one or two paddles, truSculpt® flex+ has the ability to treat eight areas simultaneously. In my case, all eight squares were placed on my buttocks (four on each butt cheek), but they could theoretically be spread out to treat more than one area at a time. “Once a person comes in, and their medical history is assessed, we examine the areas to make sure we don’t treat over bone,” he explains. Then the gel pads are placed on the target areas, followed by the electrodes that contract the muscles.
During the sessions, Dr. Alvarez increases the intensity of each paddle. He is a de facto personal trainer in the sense that he observes the patient's needs and pain tolerance to determine intensity. Being no stranger to injectables and other high-tech devices, I was game to push myself to the limit in an effort to maximize results. Anyone who has tried a muscle-stimulating body sculpting device knows that it creates a tingling, almost ticklish sensation during the contractions. The body spazzes and releases all on its own. In the first few minutes – the “tone” portion, as Dr. Alvarez explained – the experience was ticklish, but it soon progressed to the “sculpt” setting where a more uncomfortable feeling kicks in.
At the end of my first session, I managed to progress to 70 percent intensity, which took a while to adjust to. By the end of my last session, I had reached the mid-nineties. If I’m being honest, it hurt. However, as the machine switched off, the pain instantly went away. The best thing I can compare it to is the pins and needles of a leg falling asleep – multiplied by a thousand. Alas, no pain, no gain.
As far as recovery and post-treatment soreness, there was none. After each 15-minute session, I walked out of Dr. Alvarez’s office and forgot about any discomfort in a matter of minutes. Soreness was also nonexistent for me, unlike the aching inability to walk after a heavy lifting session. Consider me a convert.
Who Is a Candidate for a truSculpt® Flex+ Butt Lift?
Apart from those with a recent surgical scar, certain injuries, or metal device in their body (think: pacemaker or internal defibrillator), most people are candidates for truSculpt® Flex+. “This machine is great for someone who has some sort of injury and isn’t ready to go back and put in the work, but they need to strengthen those muscles for their mobility,” Dr. Alvarez says. Those seeking improvement in their muscle tone and strength will see gradual enhancement.
While many might perceive this as a fat-burner, truSculpt® Flex+ does not provide those benefits. Instead, truSculpt® iD is monopolar radiofrequency (RF) body sculpting platform for fat reduction, and the procedures pair well together for patients who are candidates. “There is no fat loss associated with truSculpt® Flex+,” Dr. Alvarez says. “You’ll build those muscles, but you have the fat layer on top and the skin.” If you think the treated area looks leaner, it’s just an illusion. “Because the muscle increases, it compresses the fat,” he explains. “So, what you are seeing is not actual fat loss.”
I am 30, have built a decent amount of muscle on my own, and have no conditions that would prevent me from getting the treatment. My age and relatively healthy lifestyle theoretically set me up for success and speedy results. However, truSculpt® Flex+ isn’t just for the young and fit. During a session, I met another one of Dr. Alvarez’s patients who is in her fifties. Like me, she treated her bum and saw a marked improvement in volume, shape, and even quad definition. Clearly, age isn’t a factor with the multi-directional device.
When Do You See Results From a truSculpt® Flex+ Butt Lift?
Because I opted to go higher on the intensity level, I was able to see results quickly. Individual results vary (especially when you consider diet and lifestyle factors), but, for my behind, there was a visible improvement by the two-week mark. A perkier and more volumized posterior were the first signs. And, when it came to function, I was truly impressed.
For the duration of the treatments, Dr. Alvarez told me to lay off any glute workouts. “I usually tell patients to wait 24 to 48 hours before doing any other exercise,” he says. “It is like going to the gym – the recovery period is also important.” Having opted to dial back my workout regimen per Dr. Alvarez’s instructions, I focused the few workouts I did on the upper body during that two-week period. But, after my treatments were complete, I immediately felt the difference and it helped me surpass my plateau. While my quads and hamstrings required a jumpstart to get back on track, my glutes were able to handle more weight.
When it came to diet (a huge element of successful body contouring treatments), Dr. Alvarez recommended sticking to high-protein and larger water intakes as my body adjusted and recovered. I followed his specifications and increased my protein intake with a protein shake immediately after each session.
Technically, the ‘final’ results are enjoyed after three months after your final session. Because it’s a muscle-building treatment, that increased mass needs to be maintained. Needless to say, you’re not going to be able to replicate 54,000 contractions in 15 minutes at the gym, but bum-sculpting exercises can help prolong the effect. You can also head back in for maintenance truSculpt® Flex+ treatments. The results can only get better (and bigger) with time.
How Does truSculpt® Flex+ Compare to a Traditional Butt Lift?
Four sessions of truSculpt® Flex+ gave me the butt lifting effect I was after, but Dr. Alvarez emphasizes that not everyone will see the same results and the results are not meant to compare to a surgical butt lift or Brazilian butt lift (BBL). A traditional butt lift removes sagging and excess skin and places strategic sutures to provide internal support that firms and contours the backside. A BBL, meanwhile, takes liposuctioned fat from one area of the body and injects it into the buttocks for increased volume and more lifted appearance.
truSculpt® Flex+ builds and strengthens the glutes, which lifts and sculpts the buttocks. Depending on your aesthetic goals, the increased muscle mass may be too subtle for your liking. But, as someone who is not willing to commit to the downtime and recovery associated with surgical butt enhancement, a perkier posterior in two weeks without any impact on my daily life is about all I could ask for.
It’s safe to say that, by word of mouth, the 15-minute treatment has gotten a lot of buzz in my circles. Personally experiencing the powers of this technology, I was able to put the gimmick perception I had to rest while converting a few others. With no recovery – and I mean none – I was able to go about my life, feel strong, and have the confidence of knowing I went to the right provider.
So, for those seeking ab definition or wanting a bigger bum with no time to spare, truSculpt® Flex+ is a game-changer. While the results may not be as drastic as an invasive surgery can provide, I was able to improve my self-esteem, my lifting, and my wardrobe.
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