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


Comments (5)

ABDOMINAL ETCHING first published by Dr. Henry Mentz of Houston in 1993. You are a good candidate for abdominal etching with adequate muscle mass and relatively tight skin. Modified abdominal etching includes thinning the abdominal fat pad, etching in the linea albe (the vertical crease above the belly button), etching the linea semilunaris (the soft lateral or outside edge of the rectus muscle). Full abdominal etching also adds the horizontal transverse inscriptions that make the six pack. Here are some tips for abdominal etching : Keep your incision scars low so that it is hidden in the smallest bathing suit Have your surgeon use Xeralto or Lovenox to reduce your risk of blood clots Use incrimental compression garments during and after surgery to reduce risk of leg blood clots The surgeon places the marks when you are standing and abdominal muscles are flexed I prefer power assisted liposuction but there are a few talented surgeons using Vaser Your surgeon gently shape your abdominal flap to create a more athletic appearance and muscular contour Etching is aggressive fat removal to enhance six pack grooves Foam padding is used in the etched areas to improve the early results Begin post operative massage one to two weeks after surgery to speed recovery Begin with a board certified plastic surgeon and visit several offices Choose a surgeon with good experience, doing more than 100 per year Internet discussions do not replace the advice of your physician

Some friends saw 'etched abs' on their Yoga trainer and said it looked really fake compared to his flabby chest.  Even if you can keep the weight off for a few years, think how it is going to look in 10+ years... 


Wait a minute, I thought yoga trainers were supposed to be lean and toned anyway?? 


I remember seeing this on Dr. 90210 a few years ago. It looked great, but you really have to have the abs for it before they remove the fat, so it's by no means an easy fix.


The hesitation from doctors is enough to deter me. It might look lumpy? Not worth it

Oh, and the cost...