Our expert says:
Hi Joy, thank you for the question.
Stretch marks are difficult to treat and it is important to remember that with the various treatment options one may only be able to improve their appearance.
Stretch marks (striae) appear as parallel streaks of red, thinned, glossy skin that over time become whitish and scarlike in appearance. The stretch marks may be slightly depressed and have a different texture than normal skin.
Stretch marks are caused through skin that is subjected to continuous and progressive stretching; increased stress is placed on the connective tissue due to increased size of the various parts of the body. It occurs on the abdomen and the breasts of pregnant women, on the shoulders of body builders, in adolescents undergoing their growth spurt, and in individuals who are overweight. Prolonged use of oral or topical corticosteroids or Cushing syndrome (increased adrenal cortical activity) leads to the development of striae. Genetic factors could certainly play a role, although this is not fully understood.
Stretch marks are difficult to treat with topical products only and typically one needs to consider combining a good topical regime with laser or needling.
Topical products must contain glycolic acid and vitamin A and one should add glycolic acid peels and/or microdermabrasion as this may produce some improvement to the appearance of the stretch marks.
Lasers, such as the pulsed dye laser - used at wavelengths of light that are non-ablative (will not remove any skin), remodels the dermis (the layer of skin just beneath the surface layer, the epidermis) by stimulating the growth of fibroblasts, cells that help produce the elastic tissues collagen and elastin.
The excimer laser, an altogether different system from the pulsed dye laser, does nothing for collagen or elastin growth. Instead, its aim is repigmentation by stimulating melanin production. If it works, the old and lighter scar is rendered similar in color to the surrounding skin, and therefore less visible.
Fractional skin resurfacing (Fraxel, Palomar, Matrix RF, etc.) has also shown relatively good results with stretch marks.
Laser is not your only option for stretch marks as needling has shown good results with this cosmetic problem. As with laser, you will need a number of sessions (2 to 3) of needling. Needling is a procedure that involves rolling a device that has 1mm needles that allows deep penetration of high doses of Vitamins (A, C, E and K). This causes the fibroblasts to reactivate and promotes wound healing with new cell formation. Ultimately one gets stretch mark removal, as well as other benefits to the area treated.
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal
advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.