Do you want washboard abs, but can’t quite achieve that look, no matter how much you exercise? As an alternative, you may want to consider abdominal etching, which is a surgical procedure performed to improve the definition of the abdominal muscles.
Are You a Candidate?
You might be a good candidate for abdominal etching if you are:
- In good overall health
- No major medical issues
- Physically fit and have an athletic muscle build
- Already have well-toned abdominal muscles, with only a thin layer or small pockets of stubborn fat that covers the muscles
You may NOT be a candidate if you are:
- Overweight with a significant amount of weight to lose from the abdomen
- If your body fat percentage is greater than 18%
- Have unrealistic expectations
Those wishing to undergo abdominal etching should understand that after surgery, a healthy diet and exercise regimen is essential to maintaining the results.
The Procedure: A Step-by-Step Guide
Abdominal etching will accentuate the existing muscle tissue by getting rid of excess fat, giving you “six pack” abs. This procedure takes liposuction and tummy tucks to the next level to sculpt the tissues of the abdomen. Your stomach can look firmer, tighter, and more muscular as a result of abdominal etching. Usually lasting no more than an hour, abdominal etching can be performed as an outpatient procedure using either local or general anesthesia.
- Before the surgery begins, the surgeon will trace an outline of the patient’s abdominal muscles. These lines serve as guides during the surgery.
- Anesthesia is administered
- Next, several small incisions will be made in the belly button or following natural creases on the abdomen.
- Then, a small metal tube known as a cannula will be inserted underneath the skin.
- Using a liposuction technique, excess fat is removed along the lines drawn by the surgeon, sculpting the abs into the desired contours.
- At the conclusion of the procedure, the incisions, which usually measure less than a quarter of an inch long, may or may not require sutures.
As with most surgical procedures, it’s important to understand the risks before undergoing surgery, such as:
- Negative reactions to anesthesia
- Excessive scarring internally or of the skin where etching took place
- Potential for infection after the surgery (usually occurring in first 3-5 weeks)
- Unsatisfactory or uneven aesthetic results may occur if the surgeon does not correctly target fat cells for removal through the cannula
- Nerve damage or permanent loss of skin sensitivity, particularly around the belly button
Be sure to discuss these potential risks and complications with your surgeon before moving forward with your treatment.
After surgery, you can expect to experience some pain and discomfort, which should be manageable using over-the-counter pain medications. Common side effects experienced after abdominal etching include swelling, bruising, and redness. Your doctor will instruct you to wear a compression garment over your abdomen for several weeks. This will reduce swelling and help the tissues to adjust to their new contours faster. For the first week or two after surgery, strenuous activities and heavy lifting should be avoided. Most patients return to work in about a week. The physical outcome of the procedure will become fully apparent within six months, after your body has had sufficient time to heal.
What’s the Cost?
The total cost of an abdominal etching procedure includes the surgeon’s fees and the costs of anesthesia and the surgical facility. This procedure usually costs around $2,500 to $5,000. Often, patients combine it with liposuction on another body part such as the hips or thighs; having several liposuction procedures performed at once can be less expensive than having them done individually. In general, the cost of your procedure will depend on the surgeon selected, the amount of fat removed and the exact liposuction technique used.
- Liposuction: Author: Allen Gabriel, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Deepak Narayan, MD, FRCS
- ASPS: Abdominal Etching; Aldo B. Guerra, MD (n.d.)
- FDA: Liposuction Consumer Updates (n.d.)
- NCBI: Avoiding Unfavorable Outcomes in Liposuction (n.d.)