These Ab-Defining Treatments Are the Hollywood Hacks You Need to Know

Get toned abs and a stronger core while lying down.

MINI JOURNEY: No Crunches Necessary, Abdominal Etching Is Delivers a Defined Torso In Just One Session
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Sometimes, no matter how much you hit the gym or commit to 100 crunches a day, there may still be some stubborn areas on your stomach that will refuse to get toned. That doesn’t mean that you’re doing your crunches wrong or that you should go to the gym more (unless you want to, then godspeed). If you’re looking to strengthen your core muscles and get that last bit of fat trimmed down, you may want to look at abdominal treatments.

There are plenty of options you can choose from when it comes to getting toned abs. From non-invasive devices to etching on your own six-pack (yes, you read that correctly. More on that later), the experts break down the most popular treatments for the abdominal area. Read on below to find the right one for you. 


One of the more widely known invasive procedures out there is liposuction, which involves sucking out excess fat for a more slimmed-down area. Double board-certified plastic surgeon at the Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue, David Shafer, MD, FACS recommends you schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss your desired results and go over realistic expectations. He says excessive skin or muscle laity, for example, won’t really be remedied with liposuction. 

He goes on to explain that liposuction is mainly performed when the client is either at or close to their ideal weight but looking to slim down specific areas that don’t respond to exercise or diet. (So this isn’t the quick fix you think it is if you’re looking to lose a lot of weight). 

During the procedure, a patient will first be put under local or general anesthesia. He then says that small tubes called cannulas are inserted directly into the target area to suck out the fat. How long surgery will take depends on where and how much is being taken out, but your physician will consult you beforehand about what to expect.

Post-operation, he says that those who got liposuction on their abdominal area will be advised to wear a corset-like binding garment or a compression garment to ensure the best results. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, while swelling can go down as quickly as one week, it says that you’ll want to wear your compression garment for about four weeks unless instructed otherwise by your doctor. 

Abdominal etching

Plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Avance Plastic Surgery Erez Dayan, MD, describes abdominal etching as a technique to contour your core for a more athletic or toned look. “Our understanding of liposuction has evolved over the past 10 years and now we understand that the body contours include hills and valleys [and] we are able to accentuate underlying muscle groups by preferentially liposuctioning certain areas more than others to highlight these differences,” says Dr. Dayan. 

While traditional liposuction aims to remove fat evenly over certain areas, abdominal etching removes more fat and etches those valleys and contours you see on a six-pack. This is for those who have moderate excess fat and looking to have a more athletic physique. 

The procedure is similar to that of liposuction. He says that certain areas — such as the oblique, rectus, and pectoralis, muscles — will undergo more liposuction than others to allow for the contouring and highlighting of these muscle groups. Recovering includes a few days or soreness and a few weeks of swelling. While Dr. Dayan says you’ll start to see results in three to six months, Dr. Shafer warns that the slightest mishap in carving fat or future weight gain can make result look odd. 

“It is important to understand that abdominal etching uses a more complex and strategic method than the traditional liposuction procedure,” says Dr. Shafer. “Abdominal etching removes fat deposits in a strategic way for the sole purpose of defining the abdominal muscles, but this can result in bumpy or uneven results if not done correctly. Even in the best hands, the results are not always predictable and mishaps can be difficult to fix, or correct. There are also risks involved with this technique separate than just liposuction, and results are usually less long-lasting than traditional liposuction as weight fluctuations can alter the results.” 


A minimally invasive treatment, BodyTite combines radiofrequency and liposuction to tighten the core. Dr. Dayan said this is done under local anesthesia and uses thermal energy to shrink soft tissue and produce collagen for a slimmer and tighter appearance. “This provides dramatic results from only a single treatment,” he says. 


If you’re not looking to go under the knife, consider EmSculpt. This non-invasive procedure helps build muscle and burn fat. Dr. Shafer explains that it uses high-intensity focused electromagnetic energy (HIFEM) to cause your muscles to contract at an intense rate. He adds that these contractions are the equivalent to you doing 20,000 crunches. “As the contractions produce energy focused on the muscles during the session, fat cells begin breaking down [and leave] you with a leaner, more toned look,” he says.  

A session lasts only 30 minutes and he says you’ll start to receive best results after four sessions in a two to four-week period. As an added bonus, there is zero downtime. 

EmSculpt NEO

Similar to EmSculpt, Dr. Shafer says EmSculpt NEO in a non-invasive body-contouring procedure that burns fat and builds muscle. The main difference between this and EmSculpt is its intensity. “EmSculpt NEO introduces skin tightening results with higher focused HIFEM,” he says. “[It] delivers radiofrequency energy to muscles which heats them and effectively burns more fat than EmSculpt would.” 

But just like EmSculpt, a session of EmSculpt NEO only lasts 30 minutes and if you want best results, he recommends doing at least four sessions within a two to four-week period.

ab-defining treatments abdominal etching



CoolSculpting is a noninvasive method based on cryolipolysis, which uses extremely cold temperatures to freeze and destroy fat cells. “It works by cooling subcutaneous fat, which is the layer of fat just below the skin’s surface,” Dr. Shafer explains, “The fat is then absorbed by the body.” 

He says that treatments can last anywhere from one to three hours and that results average between a 20 and 80 percent reduction in fat, depending on the client. There is little to no downtime following a treatment, but he says you may experience slight side effects such as swelling or bruising on where you got it done.

Evolve X

This is a body contouring technology, which Dr. Dayan says uses a combination of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) and radiofrequency (RF) energy to stimulate and strengthen your ab muscles. The EMS burns fat and the RF works to tighten the skin. According to wellness center Mirable M.D. in Kansas City, treatments last 30 minutes to an hour and it is recommended that you get three to six treatments spaced one week apart for best results. 


Also known as the tummy tuck, the abdominoplasty involves cutting the skin to contour it, the tissue, and muscle to get you your desired result. It comes in many variations. Dr. Shafer says that you can opt for a full tummy tuck, a mini tuck that only targets the upper or lower region of the abdominal area, or the skin-tuck which targets large amounts of lax skin, which can form from extreme weight loss or pregnancy. 

Similar to liposuction, he says you’ll have a consultation with your plastic surgeon to discuss which options will give you the best results and what to expect during the procedure. According to the Mayo Clinic, your plastic surgeon will make incisions in a horizontal oval or elliptical shape to remove the skin and fat in the area belly button and where your pubic hair starts. The connective tissue that is found over the abdominal muscles is then tightened with permanent sutures. Lastly, the skin around your belly button will be repositioned back to its normal spot. This will typically take about two to three hours with a downtime of about six weeks after surgery.

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