Sucking Out a Six-Pack: Abdominal Etching

K. Mathews on 8 Jun 2011 at 1:30pm

Want abs like Ryan Phillippe’s? Who wouldn’t? While being thin looks nice, being toned looks even better. This desire to have six-pack abs without giving up the six-pack of beer has both men and women curious about abdominal etching.

Abdominal etching is liposuction that discerningly eliminates certain parts of stomach fat to give the appearance of definition. In traditional liposuction, doctors painstakingly avoid leaving any indentations on the patient’s body. However with abdominal etching, doctors purposely create slight shapes on the stomach, explains plastic surgeon Dr. Barry Eppley of Carmel. If you’re thinking of going from flabby to ab-y in one procedure, think again. Dr. Eppley notes that this surgery is best suited for slender patients with minimal belly fat.

Manhattan plastic surgeon Dr. Elan Singer warns that “even in the best of hands, [abdominal etching] looks manufactured and most often appears uneven with contour irregularities.”

liposculpture before and after photos“With the slightest bit of weight gain, the remaining normal fat can grow a somewhat grotesque appearance with irregularities.” adds Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Otto Placik.

To avoid this lumpy look, some doctors suggest liposculpture rather than etching. Liposculpture, which has a 77% Worth It Rating from RealSelf members, thins the stomach skin so you can better see the muscles underneath. Keep in mind that this means you’ll have to actually have abs under there for this surgery to make any difference.

Consensus? When many doctors are hesitant to recommend a surgery, perhaps this is a case where it’s best to resort to Ryan Phillippe's method: plenty of old-fashioned sit-ups. 

Check out more doctor's opinions here