Simultaneous Changes in Abdominal Adipose and Muscle Tissues Following Treatments by High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic (HIFEM) Technology-Based Device: Computed Tomography Evaluation

November 2019 | Volume 18 | Issue 11 | Original Article | 1098 | Copyright © November 2019

David E. Kent MD,a Carolyn I. Jacob MDb

aSkin Care Physicians of Georgia, Macon, GA

bChicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, Chicago IL 

Objective: This study investigates the effects of high-intensity focused electromagnetic technology for induction of changes in abdominal muscles and abdominal subcutaneous fat.

Methods: 22 male and female subjects (aged 34 to 64, mean BMI, 23.5kg/m2) underwent 8 treatments of the abdomen (2 per week) with a high-intensity focused electromagnetic field device. Subjects were scanned by computed tomography (CT) at baseline and 1 month after the eighth treatment. Sub-umbilical and epi-umbilical slices were used to measure the thickness of subcutaneous fat and abdominal muscles and the abdominal separation. In addition, standardized photographs, weight, and circumference measurements were collected.

Results: While comparing baseline to follow-up measurements, CT data showed on average 17.5% (-3.1±1.9mm) reduction in subcutaneous fat and simultaneous 14.8% (+1.5±0.8mm) thickening of the rectus abdominis muscle. Subjects lost on average 3.9±3.1cm in the waist circumference. Most of the waist reduction effect was achieved after the fourth treatment. The width of abdominal separation decreased by 9.5% (-2.0±1.7mm). All results were highly significant (P<0.01) while weight change was insignificant (P<0.05). Digital photographs showed aesthetic improvement in most subjects. The treatments were painless and without adverse events.

Conclusion: Results suggest that the investigated device is effective for abdominal body sculpting. This technology produced rectus muscle hypertrophy and a reduction in subcutaneous abdominal fat. Data suggests 4 treatments as the ideal protocol delivering 86% of the observed improvement.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2019;18(11):1098-1102.


Long-term intensive resistance training programs are known to improve isometric strength1,2 and result in muscle hypertrophy,3,4 with accepted hypotheses that the hypertrophic effects are primarily caused by induced muscular micro injury.5,6 Yet studies demonstrate that approximately 50% of people attempting to follow some kind of exercise program drop out due to lack of motivation after several months.7,8 Magnetic stimulation was investigated as an alternative to resistance training and results showed improvement in muscle strength.9,10

Recent studies11–14 reported that intense muscle contractions induced by application of high-intensity focused electromagnetic (HIFEM) technology increased anterior abdominal muscle mass, reduced subcutaneous fat thickness, and reduced the distance between the rectus abdominis muscles. The net result was a reduction in abdominal waist circumference and an improvement in the overall appearance of the abdomen. HIFEM technology is based on a rapidly changing magnetic field generated with a wire coil that, as described by the Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction, induces a secondary electric current in the underlying tissue.15 The current triggers action potentials in motor neurons which consequently lead to muscle contractions in the area of application.15

Initial HIFEM studies that reported changes in both muscle and fat tissues applied four-treatments. It has been proposed that a higher number of induced muscle contractions will result in more muscle micro injury with resultant increased muscle hypertrophy and fat reduction. However, studies that have investigated this hypothesis are lacking. This study investigated an extended treatment protocol of a novel device (EMSCULPT, BTL Industries Inc., Boston, MA) utilizing a high-intensity focused electromagnetic (HIFEM) field. The goal of this study is to evaluate the safety and effects of adipose and muscle tissues in the abdomen using computed tomography (CT) and an extended treatment protocol.