Stretch marks, or striae, appear as parallel bands, stripes or lines with a reddish, thinned skin appearance. They appear most commonly on the abdomen, back, breasts, hips, thighs and arms. Stretch marks affect both men and women and are one of the most common cosmetic concerns. While many companies market creams and lotions to treat these marks, the only way to really reduce their appearance is to treat deeper within the skin. In order to do this, you need to find a certified provider offering laser treatments for stretch marks near you.
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are the result of rapid stretching of the skin during increased periods of growth. While most often associated with pregnancy, stretch marks can occur during the rapid growth rates of puberty, after increased muscle growth from weightlifting, using corticosteroid medications or in people with certain genetic conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome or Marfan syndrome.
These marks vary in appearance and can be pink, red, black, blue or purple. Stretch marks begin with a brighter color but, over time, will fade in appearance. Stretch marks are harmless and pose no medical concern but they can affect a person’s self-esteem.
What Causes Stretch Marks to Develop?
Your skin is made up of collagen and elastin fibers that, under most conditions, is fairly elastic. When you gain a couple pounds, your skin is able to stretch and bounce back again when you lose the weight. However, when rapid changes occur, such as with pregnancy, the skin is pulled and overstretched. Your skin consists of three main layers. Stretch marks occur in the dermis, or middle layer, and occur when the connective tissue is stretched beyond its limits, causing it to tear. While researchers do not understand why, the body is unable to effectively repair this network of fibers at a rapid rate and they remain disrupted, resulting in the formation of stretch marks.
Do Creams and Lotions Work to Treat Stretch Marks?
While your local drug store shelves offer a wide selection of creams and lotions claiming to treat and reduce the appearance of stretch marks, their efficacy is still debatable. Many studies, including one published in 2015, show that there is no topical formulation shown to be most effective in the treatment and reduction of stretch marks.
However, these stretch mark creams and lotions can be beneficial before stretch marks appear. A 2013 study showed that creams containing hydroxyprolisilane-C, rosehip oil, Centella asiatica triterpenes and vitamin E are effective in reducing the appearance or severity of stretch marks during pregnancy.
Laser Stretch Mark Removal Really Makes a Difference
If stretch marks are a cosmetic concern for you, your best treatment options for reducing their appearance are laser and radiofrequency stretch mark removal. Laser treatments, such as the PicoWay Resolve, uses shorts bursts of laser energy to safely target your stretch marks and stimulate new collagen production. This simple in-office procedure typically takes under 30 minutes and requires no downtime. Multiple treatments, 4 to 6 weeks apart, may be necessary to achieve the desired results.
Radiofrequency technology, such as the eMatrix, uses radiofrequency waves to heat the layers of the skin, stimulating collagen production. This effective stretch mark treatment takes less than an hour and requires no downtime. For stretch marks, you may need 3 to 4 sessions spaced out every 4 weeks.