What are stretch marks?
Striae distensae, or stretch marks, occur when the skin is rapidly stretched over the weak connective tissue in the dermis, leaving behind scarred tissue. This is why stretch marks commonly appear during pregnancy. Common locations on the body where stretch marks form are areas where fat is stored, such as the buttocks, thighs, chest, lower abdomen and the lower back. Stretch marks can also appear on areas such as the knees and calves.
Why do stretch marks form?
Whether a person gets stretch marks or not may be due in part to genetics. For instance, if your mother has stretch marks it’s more likely that you’ll get them, also. The formation of stretch marks can also depend on hormonal changes, and environmental factors such as sun exposure, smoking, and diet. It can also depend on your sex and circumstance. For instance, stretch marks appear on women more than twice as frequently as they appear on men. And common periods for the formation of stretch marks are during adolescence and puberty, during pregnancy (90% of women), and during other periods of rapid weight change—bodybuilders can sometimes get stretch marks for this reason. Another factor that has consistently been linked to the formation of stretch marks is when people have high levels of the stress hormone cortisol circulating in their system. Cortisol can convert into cortisone which may weaken the elastic fibers in our skin.
The Life Cycle of Stretch Marks
The appearance of stretch marks change over time and can be determined by skin type. If they appear pink or red this indicates that the stretch marks are in the early-period and have been recently acquired. Sometimes stretch marks appear pink or purple. Stretch marks may appear this color early on, but depending on skin type, they can begin to appear silvery white as time passes.
Are Stretch-Marks Treatable?
There are a few treatment options available for stretch marks, such as through topical creams and through surgery. One of the most effective methods for treating stretch marks is through laser resurfacing of the skin with the use of a relatively new technology called fractional laser therapy. In a recent study, researchers compared stretch mark laser therapy to therapy using a topical cream. Participants who had been treated with lasers found the appearance of their stretch marks to have significantly improved as compared to participants who were only treated with a topical cream. Dermatologists generally view topical creams as complements to other therapies, rather than as an effective treatment onto themselves. While surgery can be highly effective for removing stretch marks, it’s a lot more expensive and comes with greater risk as compared to laser therapy. For instance, surgery for stretch mark removal costs anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000. Whereas a typical session of stretch marks laser therapy costs around $200. Although, unlike surgery, a total treatment cycle for laser removal, usually takes place across 3-4 sessions.
More about fractional laser therapy
Fractional laser therapy is a relatively new form of treatment, having been introduced in the early 2000s. However, it’s been FDA approved for the treatment of various types of scars, including those found in stretch marks. The treatment goal is to reduce the appearance of stretch marks by focusing on one area or “fraction” at a time. This is achieved by shining a specialized beam of light onto the skin that works to disrupt the molecular bonds of tissue and to stimulate the growth of new tissue. Over the course of several visits, thousands of microscopic wounds are produced on the skin that work to stimulate the production of new skin. At the same time, fractional laser therapy works to stimulate the production of collagen—the component of skin that gives it its elastic quality. Put simply, old skin is removed and new skin replaces it.
Is Fractional Laser Therapy for Stretch Mark Removal Right for You?
The treatment method for stretch mark removal and its success will depend a lot on your situation. For example, the best treatment option for newer stretch marks may not be the best treatment option for older stretch marks. Depending on your situation you may benefit from a combination with other treatment methods, such as microneedling which works to stimulate new, thicker skin and collagen that can significantly reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
If you’re interested in learning more about whether laser stretch mark removal is a good fit for you don’t hesitate to contact our clinic: Receive a free consultation by selecting one of the times our doctors have set aside exclusively for Web visitors. You can also call Jean, our certified Laser Technician at (480) 740-5225.