The Aesthetic Practice-Turned Gym?

In-office muscle toning plus fat reduction sets the stage for pandemic-inspired medical gym memberships.

The pandemic has brought with it a plethora of challenges. But it’s also created opportunity for innovative treatment solutions in the aesthetic practice.

“Body contouring continues to grow in double digits, even during the pandemic, which is pretty amazing,” says Suneel Chilukuri, MD, Refresh Dermatology, Houston, Tex.

While some people have remained dedicated to their fitness routines despite gym shutdowns and limitations, there are many who may be looking at themselves nine months later with the realization that they need some help getting back to it.

Among the muscle toning technologies available, the newest one, Emsculpt Neo (BTL Technologies, Prague), offers the unique benefit of simultaneous muscle toning plus fat reduction.

“It's never been done,” says Dr. Chilukuri. “It combines in one paddle a combination of radiofrequency at the right temperature to destroy fat—we know that's between 42 and 45 degrees consistently for greater than 20 minutes—and at the same time, it's pulsed in synchrony with high intensity focused electromagnetic (HIFEM) technology. So it's building muscle [and] destroying fat.”

Seven independent studies of Emsculpt NEO were performed using MRIs to look at animal and human histology, which isn’t typical, according to Dr. Chilukuri.

“And the results are remarkable,” he says. “Across the board with the MRI studies, we're seeing that there's a 30% decrease in fat. It's the greatest of any noninvasive body contouring technology that's out there—25% increase in muscle, and 19% decrease in the separation of the abdominal muscles (diastasis recti). And we're seeing on average, approximately two to 2.5 inches circumferential reduction of the waistline.”

Functional Treatment

The pandemic of 2020 has created a sedentary segment of the population who has found it difficult to find motivation and struggle with resulting muscular weakness and discomfort.

“That is one of the things that we saw immediately coming out of COVID when we were able to reopen our offices,” says Dr. Chilukuri, who discovered a functional use of muscle building technologies for issues including neck and lower back pain.

“We offer what we call a medical gym membership. So we know that it's a sterile surface, we know that we're cleaning everything down. And we're able to improve the core both by treating the abdominal area as well as the gluteal area to decrease back pain and improve posture,” he says.

Once patients receive muscle rehab treatment and the pain is gone, there are two ways Dr. Chilukuri advises patients to maintain it.

“Either they come in as a monthly membership, and they do one treatment per month. Or I say just come back as needed… as soon as you feel that first twinge of pain, you know something's not right, come back in. So you don't have to do a full treatment series. It's not quite as expensive either,” he says.

Dr. Chilukuri believes the functional use of muscle building technologies will continue to gain traction to address neck and back pain, but also expects it to branch out into an extension of the gym.

“I think especially if gyms continue to stay shut down, or patients are still not comfortable going to gyms, we're going to see more changes, especially in this space right now with the muscle category that's out there,” says Dr. Chilukuri.