How Does Abdominal Etching Work?

I know ab etching involves lipo, but how does it differ from traditional liposuction?

Doctor Answers 10

Abdominal etching is 3D contouring of the abdominal fat overlying the muscles to enhance muscular contour.

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 :
  1. Keep your incision scars low so that it is hidden in the smallest bathing suit
  2. Have your surgeon use Xeralto or Lovenox to reduce your risk of blood clots
  3. Use incrimental compression garments during and after surgery to reduce risk of leg blood clots
  1. The surgeon places the marks when you are standing and abdominal muscles are flexed
  2. I prefer power assisted liposuction but there are a few talented surgeons using Vaser
  3. Your surgeon gently shape your abdominal flap to create a more athletic appearance and muscular contour
  4. Etching is aggressive fat removal to enhance six pack grooves
  5. Foam padding is used in the etched areas to improve the early results
  6. Begin post operative massage one to two weeks after surgery to speed recovery
  7. Begin with a board certified plastic surgeon and visit several offices
  8. Choose a surgeon with good experience, doing more than 100 per year
  9. Internet discussions do not replace the advice of your physician

Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Abdominal Etching or Liposculpture

Men want to have and show off their abdominal muscles in Los Angeles! Sometimes exercise and dieting is not enough. Liposcupture thins out the abdominal skin so that you can see the definition of the underlying muscles. Obviously, if you do'nt have muscles under the abdominal skin, then you will not show any abdominal definition.

Abdominal eching carves areas of fat under the skin to create what appears to be muscle definition. Although this sounds great in theory, in reality it does not look good. The areas that are liposuctioned could look lumpy!

Therefore, I would recommend liposculputre but not liposuction etching.

Sean Younai, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Abdominal etching with liposuction

Abdominal etching is controversial. Some doctors do it with very nice results, but it involves very superficial and aggressive liposuction decreasing the fat in linear areas so that the skin almost sticks down to the underlying muscle. It can create a problem with not enough blood flow to the skin and risk development of an ulcer and eventual skin scarrring. There could even be long term soreness from the scarring holding the skin down in the creases.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Abdominal etching is not all that it's cracked up to be!

Abdominal etching is nothing more than using the liposuction cannula right under the skin to give the appearance of muscular definition.  Even in the best of hands, it looks manufactured and most often appears uneven with contour irregularities.  Lipousction is best performed deep within the subcutaneous tissues so that you avoid these problems.  On occasion, surgeons will do a very small amount of etching in the midline above the belly button which can look natural, but again, this takes experience to make it look right.  Hope this helps!

Abdominal etching in Beverly Hills

Hi and thanks for the question.

In general, abdominal etching is more involved than conventional lipoplasty, with greater detail. Fat grafting can also be implemented to augment the appearance of musculature. 

Best of luck.

Glenn Vallecillos, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

How does muscle etching work?

It is liposuction carried to an extreme where much more of the fatty tissue that is between the skin and the muscles is removed by a combination of techniques. I use my gentle wave body contouring which is radiofrequency based as well as the power assisted liposuction. It does take much longer to do but my patients are happy with the results. 

Edward J. Domanskis, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Abdominal Etching

Abdominal etching removes excess fat from between the abdominal muscles to give you better definition. You should have a total body fat percentage that's lower than 18% are usually not candidates for successful results.

Abdominal Etching is an art among liposuction experts.

Abdominal Etching can look fabulous with the right patient and right doc doing the procedure.  Most docs can't give you a six pak if you don't have the bulging muscles and thin skin to start with.  Modifying the fat layer takes an artist's eye.  Sincerely,

David Hansen,MD

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Abdominal Etching Is A Modified Liposuction Technique

Abdominal etching is the application of a modified liposuction technique to selectively remove linear strips of abdominal fat. This causes the overlying skin to indent which will then appear like the inscriptions of the underlying abdominal muscles creating the 'six-pack' look. This liposuction technique is done exactly the opposite of traditional methods in which an even layer of fat removal is sought to avoid any irregularities or indentations. Etching deliberately aims to remove all fat between the skin and the underlying muscles to cause these linear lines or indentations. It is best done on someone who is relatively lean with only a minimal to moderate amount of abdominal fat. It is not a technique for the patient who has large abdomen or is significantly overweight.    


In the marketing craze to disinguish and exploit each modification from "Liposuction" the term "traditional liposuction" was introduced. The connotation is that it is old-school, superseded, old-fashioned, obsolete,bygone etc.

In fact, ABDOMINAL ETCHING, HI-DEF LIPO, 3D LIPO etc are just mild modifications of "traditional tumescent liposcution" in which the Plastic surgeon EITHER brings out and unveils the underlying muscle appearance giving the person a more athletic appearance OR by suctionning the fat under the skin repeatedly along the borders between different muscle bellies, a much more defined athletic appearance is created.

The key to this procedure is making sure you REALLY want this look and that your surgeon is comfortable in giving it to you.

Peter a Aldea, MD

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 102 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.