Stretch marks also known as striae can happen to anyone at any age. They are often associated with pregnancy, weight gain, puberty changes and weight lifting. Stretch marks are linear scars that form from the rapid stretching of the skin’s elastin fibers that may occur during rapid growth. Stretch marks frequently appear on the breasts, abdomen, hips and buttocks where the stretching of the skin occurs most frequently.
Elastin is a protein in connective tissue that is elastic and allow tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Collagen, is another protein found in the skin, and is one of the vital building blocks of our skin.
Since stretch marks are scars, they are permanent, but now there are several options to improve their appearance. Treatment options should be centered on affecting your body’s ability to both speed up the production of collagen and elastin cells and to get rid of the skin cells that have been damaged by an over-stretching of their collagen and elastin fibers.
Prescribed retinoid creams, which are derivatives of vitamin A, are recommended to help improve stretch marks. Retinoid creams cause rapid turnover of old skin cells, allowing for new healthy skin cells with new elastin and collagen to come to the surface. These creams can only be used if recommended by your dermatologist and cannot be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
If the improvement of the stretch marks is not satisfactory with prescribed retinoids creams, then a fractional laser is another great option. Fractional laser creates deep columns of controlled injury deep into the dermis (deeper layer of the skin). This triggers a nautral restorative healing process that creates new tissue including the deposition of new collagen/elastin. This new tissue will replace the damaged tissue of the stretch mark. After each session of the fractional laser, you will notice an improvement, but may need anywhere from 4 to 6 sessions to receive optimal results.
Hopefully this article has given you some insight on what to look for as far as treatment options for your stretch marks. During your consultation, we can determine what cream regimen or laser would be best for you. Our Fraxel laser and Palomar Icon laser systems have proven superior results in the treatment of stretch marks. Call for a free consultation to see what treatment option might be best for you!