Stretch Marks: Why They Appear?
Stretch marks are a form of narrowband scarring on the skin caused by abnormal changes in its structure. Also called Striae or Striae distensae, stretch marks occur in lifestyle and systemic changes in our body. They are characterized by red, pink, or dark brown itchy lines. The color fades with time, and the bands are reduced to mere lines and depressions over the skin. Conditions like abnormal weight changes, pregnancy, or hormonal changes lead to rapid expansion and contraction of the skin. The collagen and elastin in the skin could rupture, forming stretch marks. Apart from these, conditions like Cushing’s disease, Marfan’s Syndrome, or any skin problem requiring prolonged corticosteroid application may also cause stretch marks.
How To Get Rid of Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks do not go away permanently. Home remedies like aloe vera, coconut oil, and cocoa butter are used to make them disappear. Though effective in some patients, these stretch mark removal methods are mostly unreliable in producing marked results. Medications and a few non-invasive procedures can improve their appearance to a great extent. Newer stretch marks that are pinkish to reddish in coloration fade more quickly. But older stretch marks that are whitish in appearance are tough to fade. Topical treatments like tretinoin penetrate through the skin and repair the collagen fibers for effective fading of scars.
But they work only on early scars and, in addition, have been proven to have more significant side effects. Microdermabrasion, micro-needling, ultrasound, and laser stretch mark removal are some of the popular non-invasive methods. Apart from these methods, chemical peeling and PRP are other methods that can successfully decrease the magnitude of the striations to a great extent.
Tummy Tuck For Stretch Mark Removal
Abdominoplasty, as referred to in simple language as Tummy Tuck, is a surgical stretch marks treatment primarily used to remove excess fat and skin from the abdominal region. In the process, the structure beneath the skin is worked on and tightened for effective treatment of the stretch marks scars. Tummy tuck stretch marks treatment is mainly preferred by people with moderate to severe stretch marks in the abdominal region. It enables significant removal of the stretch marks in that region or shifts the skin to the lower part of the abdomen during the procedure, so they are not visible. Apart from stretch mark reduction, it tones and reshapes the body contour for a further improved patient’s body image.
Can You Prevent Stretch Marks?
The most common areas of stretch mark appearance are over the stomach, hips, chest, and thigh region. Once it appears, it’s challenging to remove them permanently. But by following a few healthy habits, the occurrence of stretch marks can be prevented to a great extent. Weight gain due to any factor is the crucial cause of striations in the body. Both rapid gain and rapid loss are equally responsible for the condition. Regular exercising with a healthy diet can effectively prevent them from occurring. That with hydrated skin softens the skin and prevents the collagen from hardening. A nutrient-rich diet, especially that of Vitamin C and Zinc, goes a long way in the healing and development of collagen, an essential factor in striations development.
It is advised to intake a Vitamin C-rich diet, containing fruits and vegetables and containing zinc like nuts and seeds. Additionally, studies have proved that healthy exposure to the sun increases the Vitamin D level in the body, thus reducing the incidence of stretch marks. Above all, going for stretch marks treatment in the early stages is the most effective method of their prevention as the collagen has not hardened in those stages, and it is possible to remove them entirely.
When to seek a dermatologist for stretch marks treatment?
Getting rid of stretch marks is an expensive and cumbersome affair. Homemade remedies and store-bought creams provide variable results often that differ from person to person. It becomes necessary to see an expert dermatologist when none of your self-prescribed treatments work.
There are two critical situations for seeking the expertise of a dermatologist. Firstly, for oral remedies when nothing works. Prescription medications like tretinoin and hyaluronic acid work to some extent and make early stretch marks less noticeable. Secondly, to achieve more effective results, it is advisable to for various non-invasive stretch marks treatment procedures such as chemical peels, laser therapy, microdermabrasion. Your doctor may perform the procedures on their own in combination with other techniques for a successful outcome.
Preparing for Stretch Marks Treatment
While preparing for a stretch marks treatment, it is essential to undergo some diagnostic tests first. In this regard, blood tests ensure that your systemic conditions are under control before proceeding with the preparations. Before starting any stretch mark removal treatment, it is also essential to inform your surgeon about your drug reactions and allergic conditions as they may impact the surgery outcomes.
A healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle ensure that your surgery obtains results in the best possible manner and are included in the pre-op precautions. You will need to stop using medications like Ibuprofen, NSAIDs, and herbal supplements, if any, for at least 4-5 days before the procedure. Smoking and alcohol intake need to be stopped at least ten days prior as they interfere in wound healing.
Laser for Stretch Marks
There are two types of laser stretch mark removal procedures available- Ablative and Non-Ablative.
The ablative laser procedure uses CO2 and Erbium Yag, while non-ablative laser for stretch marks consists of Fraxel and Alexandra. These laser stretch mark removal procedures effectively address the more stubborn strations- mainly the white striae- and fade them effectively. Ablative Lasers destroy the upper skin layer to allow new cell growth and simultaneous stimulation of collagen. While Erbium targets the surface scars, CO2 targets the deeper scars.
In comparison, non-ablative lasers do not destroy any of the skin cells. They do their work by targeting the collagen fibers for scar reduction. They produce lesser post-laser complications and subsequently are more tolerated by the patients. They are even completed in less time, with non-ablative lasers being completed in less than 45 minutes and the ablative ones taking 60- 90 minutes.
Laser Stretch Mark Removal Guide
Before initiating the procedure, the area with the Striae will be numbed with anesthetics. There will be some discomfort during the initiation of the treatment. The laser beam will be emitted in pulses using a laser machine. In microdermabrasion or micro-needling, the roller containing grounded crystals or microneedles will be passed over the area of striations. There will be repeat sessions depending on the severity of stretch marks and healing time taken by the skin. To prevent damages from sun exposure it is advised to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized.
Post laser stretch mark removal treatment, there will be rawness and bleeding followed by scabbing. After the scabs fall off, you will notice lighter-looking even skin with a marked reduction of striations. While surface-level marks will disappear within a month or two, deeper marks will take around 5-6 months to fade significantly. When it comes to laser for stretch marks, Bizrahmed would be your ideal bet as we have a team of qualified doctors to offer you quality treatment in Dubai.
Types Of Lasers For Stretch Marks
When it comes to laser for stretch marks, exfoliation and topical are two prevalent and cost-effective methods. Regular exfoliation of the skin is said to remove dead skin from the area of the scars. This helps in better penetration of other treatment options and provides quicker and more effective results.
Microdermabrasion works by spraying exfoliating crystals over the skin to peel away the epidermis of the stretch mark, effective removal of your dead cells. This in turn helps to stimulate the growth of healthy cells and subsequent scar reduction. Apart from stretch marks, microdermabrasion also reduces wrinkles and lines and improves the texture of the skin. It needs at least 8-10 sessions and works best with moderate stretch marks.
Similarly, Microneedling laser stretch mark removal works by passing a roller device containing hundreds of tiny needles over the area of striations. The aim is to create small punctures on the skin for boosting the collagen fibers for scar reduction. Compared to the above methods, laser beams and sound waves are concentrated to achieve the required scar treatment. All of these above methods work best with mild to moderate scars and do not entirely remove them but help fade them to a great extent.
Stretch Mark Removal Aftercare
When you prefer laser for stretch marks, there would be little pain, inflammation, soreness, and bleeding. The treated area may look even worse than before, but the good part is there is virtually no downtime required, and you can join work the very next day.
You will need to avoid sun exposure with those of spas or saunas to reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation. Exercising, hot showers will also need to be avoided till 48 hours post laser not to affect the still raw skin surface. If required, apply an icepack on the treated area for symptomatic relief. Swimming water, scented products, and bleaching cream contain chlorine and other chemicals that aggravate inflammation. Additionally, the treatment area will itch after the formation of scabs. But do not touch them. They will automatically shed off. Also, use a moisturizer and sunscreen with a larger SPF on venturing out till the recommendation of the surgeon.
Cost of Stretch Mark Removal
The cost of stretch marks treatment depends primarily on the method. Topical treatment options like creams, gels, and lotions are cheaper than other methods but less effective. Prescription medications being on the expensive side, fail to provide that effective a solution.
The cost for non-invasive or mildly invasive stretch marks treatment methods is determined by the number of sessions required. Stretch marks with more severity or deep scars take more sessions and thus are more expensive to treat than the less severe scars. Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure, is costlier than laser treatments and micro-needling and microdermabrasion procedures.
Also, the surgeon’s experience and the clinic’s reputation play an essential role in the overall cost factor. A surgeon with vast knowledge of stretch marks treatment will be more expensive than others. A clinic with the required infrastructure and technological advancements will vary in terms of cost than others. Additionally, the follow-up sessions, inpatient charges, and medication costs add up to the total cost of the treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you remove stretch marks?
Stretch marks once appeared do not disappear completely. That said, no method can altogether remove them except for making them less evident. Home remedies, Topical solutions like gels, lotions, and creams produce unreliable and variable results from person to person. Dermatologists recommend chemical peels, dermabrasion, and micro-needling methods to work on the collagen fibers for effective scar treatment. A surgical technique like abdominoplasty is also a popular method of treating them.
What is the fastest way to get rid of stretch marks?
Laser treatments, especially the non-ablative lasers, are considered the fast and effective methods of getting rid of stretch marks. Non-ablative lasers, mainly Fraxnel and Alexandra lasers, work on the collagen fibers instead of affecting the upper skin surface. This causes fewer side reactions with a better healing time and subsequently faster results than other methods.
Can you permanently remove stretch marks?
No technique can permanently remove stretch marks once the collagen has hardened and the scars have assumed a white color. They can be removed if aggressively treated in their early stages of formation. Additionally, abdominoplasty tucks the skin with the scars in the inside portion to keep them out of vision.
What is the best treatment to remove stretch marks?
Laser treatments so far have been showing promising results when it comes to stretch mark removal. Not only do they work effectively on scar reduction, but they also rebuild the collagen network inside the skin. This reduces spots, pigmentations and gives the skin a healthy look.
How many sessions does it take to remove stretch marks?
The number of sessions needed depends on the area and severity of the scars. Newly formed scars are reddish and pinkish in appearance and can be removed in very few sessions. Hard scars are challenging to remove and take at least ten sessions. Superficial scars are easily removed in fewer sessions, while deeper scars require numerous sessions for fading.
Is stretch mark removal painful?
Any procedure from microdermabrasion, micro-needling to laser treatments are done by application of local anesthesia. So they are not painful in themselves. There is discomfort during the process, more so in ablative Lasers where the epithelial layer is removed, but post-laser, the pain quickly subsides down after the application of icepack.
Can exercise remove stretch marks?
Exercise helps in the stimulation of the collagen fibers forming the basis of the skin. It also promotes blood flow and boosts the antioxidant level necessary for the regeneration of healthy cells. Permanent stretch marks though not completely removed can significantly fade by combining exercise with other treatment options.
Can you 100% get rid of stretch marks?
Stretch marks appear on rapid expansion and contraction of the skin. It is impossible to 100% get rid of stretch marks. But topical treatments, laser and non-laser treatments with a few surgical procedures can reduce their visibility to a great extent. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a regular skincare routine can prevent the occurrence of fresher scar marks.
Is stretch mark removal safe?
Stretch marks are nothing but scarred collagen fibers. The areas of stretch marks are softer than regular skin areas and thus require gentle treatment. Stretch marks removals are safe as long as a certified dermatologist performs with a broad experience of treating skin conditions.
Are you stuck with stretch marks forever?
The initial itchiness and white lines associated with stretch marks get better symptomatically over a period of time. With or without treatment, stretch marks are asymptomatic and do not cause life-threatening complications. Laser treatments and micro-needling methods can drastically reduce their appearance, as can surgical methods by tucking them in areas not visible outwardly.
How do stretch mark scars form?
Stretch marks are caused by stretching the skin on the shape-sensitive areas of the body like the breast, thighs, and hips. The rapid shape changes lead to inflammation in the internal skin structures. This leads to the rupture of the collagen and elastin fibers. In the course of time, the inflammation goes away, but the granulation process causes scar tissue formation leading to the appearance of stretch marks.
Are laser treatments for stretch marks effective?
Laser treatments have been proven to be the most effective of all treatments for stretch mark removal. Taking multiple sessions to achieve their purpose, laser treatments remove the dead skin cells for healthy cells to take their place and even stimulate the collagen fibers inside for efficient and lost lasting results in a short period.