A study published recently in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), looks at a technique called abdominal etching to help create the classic “six-pack abs” physique in men or three-vertical-line abdomen in women.

The procedure uses precisely targeted liposuction to achieve greater definition of the abdominal muscles, notes Tarik M. Husain, MD, FACS, of University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and colleagues, in the study.
“Abdominal etching using power-assisted liposuction is a novel method of sculpting an ideal abdomen,” Husain comments, in a media release from Wolters Kluwer Health.
“Our study shows that this is a safe and effective method to create a defined anterior abdominal wall in both male and female patients.”
In the study, the researchers review their experience with liposuction to improve the appearance of the abdomen in 50 patients: 26 men and 24 women, average age 36 years. Patients seeking abdominal etching were in good shape, with a healthy diet and regular exercise routine, but had “certain resistant areas of fat” that made it difficult to achieve the abdominal muscle definition they desired.
Husain and coauthors outline the procedure in detail, starting with patient selection and preoperative markup. Following meticulous liposuction technique, the plastic surgeon sculpts the abdominal fat in both the superficial and deeper layers, accentuating the patient’s natural “six-pack” lines in males and three vertical lines in females.
Hip lines are usually desired by both sexes. The technique can be altered to provide a softer, shallower or a harder, more-defined degree of abdominal etching, depending on the patient’s preference, the release explains.
The authors spell out critical steps for postoperative care. Foam dressings are cut to size to compress the newly etched lines for at least 3 days. This is followed by full-time compression for 2 weeks postoperatively and 2 weeks part-time after that.
It is critical to have regular follow up early on to assess for any fluid collections, or seromas. To ensure good results, these seromas — typically regarded as a minor complication — need to be treated aggressively if they occur.
Patients can resume light exercise not engaging the core after 2 weeks, and more rigorous exercise after 4 weeks. The researchers stress the importance of maintaining good long-term results, with the assistance of a sports nutritionist and/or integrated medicine physician to optimize nutrition, exercise plan, and hormone imbalances. Patients have maintained good results of abdominal etching at follow-up times up to 6 years.
None of the 50 patients undergoing abdominal etching had major complications requiring hospitalization or return to the operating room. Minor complications occurred in 22% of patients, such as contour irregularities (usually “over-etching”) that typically soften up and improve over time. Seromas developed in 10% of patients, and were promptly managed by a simple office procedure, the release continues.
“The patients exemplify that the procedure can be performed with optimal aesthetic results, and minimal postoperative complications,” Husain and coauthors conclude.
They hope their technique and experience of abdominal etching will serve as a useful guide to other plastic surgeons who are interested in offering this relatively new procedure.
The authors add, “We also highlight our extensive post-operative management, with the addition of a multidisciplinary nutrition and personal training team with the goal to maintain [patients’] long-term results and retain their newly etched abdominals.”
[Source(s): Wolters Kluwer Health, Science Daily]