What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks occur when the middle layer of the skin – the dermis – is stretched to a point where its elasticity breaks down. As the injury heals, scar tissue develops which becomes a stretch mark. Stretch marks are most often caused by rapid weight gain, pregnancy, weightlifting, and accelerated growth during adolescence. Initially these narrow grooves have a reddish appearance. As the stretch mark ages it tends to take on a silvery white appearance.
Stretch marks can occur in both men and women and most commonly appear on the abdomen, breasts, upper arms, underarms, back, thighs, hips, and buttocks. Women are more affected because the skin often becomes compromised during the large weight gain seen in pregnancy. Even after losing weight, many women refuse to wear a bathing suit due to visible stretch marks. Stretch marks do not pose any health risks but can greatly impact one’s self confidence. Topical creams may help hydrate the area but they do not penetrate effectively to show any real improvement.
At LaserCare, we use the Cynosure Affirm non-ablative and E-Matrix sublative systems to soften stretch marks on all skin types. The Affirm utilizes a Multiplex system combining 1320nm and 1440nm laser wavelengths to boost collagen deep within the skin to help flatten stretch marks. This non-ablative fractional laser allows for comfortable treatments with little to no impact on the patient’s daily activities. The E-Matrix uses radio-frequency and Infra-red to resurface stretch marks by coagulating tissue and stimulating new collagen development. This rebuilds the elasticity of the skin and retexturizes the stretch mark. If the stretch marks are red or purple, we may add IPL or vascular lasers to the treatment protocol. The recommended number of treatments will vary depending on the severity of the stretch marks and patient’s expectations. While we cannot completely remove the stretch marks, we can help diminish their appearance, which may restore the client’s confidence.
How quickly will I see results?
Collagen shrinkage as a result of thermal damage results in some immediate skin tightening. More importantly, further improvements in skin tightness and collagen density occur as a result of collagen remodeling and begin about 30 days after the treatment. These improvements continue for up to six months after the last treatment.
We customize your treatment protocol to best fit your current skin condition and desired outcome. Patients with stretch marks typically will need at least five treatments to achieve significant results. Do not expect the stretch marks to disappear. A 50% improvement is achievable in most patients with multiple treatments.