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Forget Exercising: Surgeons Can Make the Stomach Look Muscular

At left is a frontal view of a male patient's stomach prior to surgery. At right is the frontal view one year after abdominal etching surgery.
Forget Exercising: Surgeons Can Make the Stomach Look Muscular
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The ideal body is often presented as one with a stomach having no fat, or better yet, defined muscles.

Many have tried to reach that goal by spending time exercising and paying money to join a gym. Some change their diet or simply eat less. Others just give up and gain weight as a result. Now doctors at the University of Miami’s Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine think they have found an answer. They have created a new plastic surgery process that could replace all that hard work.

It is called abdominal etching.

The process is explained in a recent study in the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The study followed 26 men and 24 women who already had a healthy diet and got some exercise, but all had unwanted stomach fat. The average age of the patient was 36.

During the surgery, doctors removed fat from different parts of a body using a process called liposuction. Then they moved the fat around and etched lines in the stomach to make them appear to be the outline of muscles. Men usually have six muscle lines and women have three. Patients could choose to have the muscles more defined or more rounded for a softer look. After the surgery, the patients appeared to have the stomach of a person who spends hours exercising every day.

Stomach fat is the hardest fat to lose on the body. It is deeper inside the body than leg or hip fat, and it often increases with age. Recently, several non-surgical, fat-reducing processes have become popular in the United States. Called “body sculpting,” they include freezing fat or hitting it with radio waves. Both processes supposedly kill fat cells in the body. But they cannot get to that deep stomach fat that abdominal etching removes.

After the surgery, patients had to follow a lot of rules. They had to cover their surgery scars with pieces of tight foam for several weeks to keep the lines in place. They also needed many appointments with doctors to check for problems. One month after the surgery, they still have to exercise every day and keep to a diet for up to six years.

So, if you hate exercise or diet, this surgery might not be the one. You cannot simply walk out of the hospital with great abdominal muscles and go home, sit on a chair and do nothing.

I’m Jill Robbins.

Susan Shand wrote this story for VOA Learning English based on the Abdominal Etching study published in the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

ideal – adj. an idea or standard of perfection or excellence

stomach – n. the organ in your body where food goes and begins to be digested after you swallow it

muscle – n. a body tissue that can contract and produce movement

surgery – n. medical treatment in which a doctor cuts into someone's body in order to repair or remove damaged or diseased parts

abdomen – n. the part of the body below the chest that contains the stomach

etch – v. to draw or to scratch

liposuction – n. a kind of surgery that removes fat from a person's body

sculpt – v. to make (something) by carving or molding

foam – n. a soft material that is used to make many product