What is Abdominal Etching?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 January 2019
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Abdominal etching is a plastic surgery procedure that combines liposuction and the removal of extra or sagging skin layers covering the abdomen. It is usually best used by people who have strong abdominal muscles that may be obscured by a little extra tummy fat or a bit of sagging skin. Unlike the abdominiplasty or tummy tuck, where muscles may be slightly tightened and some partially removed, abdominal etching aims at the surface area above the muscles, creating a smoother and more muscular look to the abdomen.

The abdominal etching procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis, under mild sedation or general anesthesia. With mild sedation, you are generally mostly asleep through the procedure; medications like versed are used, which has a slightly amnesic effect. This may be called “twilight” or sleeping sedation. For those concerned with even being partially conscious during the procedure, abdominal etching can be performed under general anesthesia, where you are not conscious at all.

The specific procedure for abdominal etching involves making a few incisions, usually in the belly button where scarring will be most minimal, and using cannulas to remove small fat deposits and scrape out extra skin. Plastic surgeons often call this an artistic procedure because the abdomen is sculpted to better reveal the muscles. Sometimes, additional liposuction may be performed at the same time, if there is more fatty deposit than can be removed with the abdominal etching procedure.


After abdominal etching is finished, patients usually go home that same day. They must wear a tight band around the etched area to maintain the sculpted look. This is normally worn for about six weeks. People can expect soreness and bruising during the first few days and may require oral pain medication. Usually you are back on your feet in a couple of weeks and able to resume normal activities.

It’s common for abdominal etching not to completely show its full results until about six months after the surgery has been done. Patients might first notice slightly better fitting clothes, but the nicely shaped abdomen may not be so evident in the beginning. People may also have undesirable results if they don’t maintain their weight and continue to exercise once they’ve recovered from surgery. Abdominal etching will only work if the patient keeps fit. It’s not a miracle procedure.

It can be expensive to have abdominal etching performed; it ranges in price from 3000-10,000 US dollars (USD). You should be highly suspicious of anyone who boasts of charging less than 3000 USD. As with any plastic surgery procedure, you should only use a board certified plastic surgeon. Make sure to ask the surgeon for before and after pictures of his own clients, to get a realistic picture of what you can expect. Always verify the credentials and references of any plastic surgeon you plan to use.



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