Stretch Mark Treatment
What causes stretch marks?
Stretch marks are the visible result of tears of the second layer of skin, the dermis. Stretch marks usually result from rapid stretching of skin, such as pregnancy or puberty. Elevated hormones at the time of pregnancy further increases the susceptibility of the dermis to tear. There is also a genetic component for some patients.
Can stretch marks be removed completely?
Yes, if the stretch marks are located in an area that is amenable to complete excision. For example, some patients have low abdominal stretch marks that can be excised completely with a tummy tuck.
For the stretch marks that cannot be removed what other treatment options are there?
- Laser therapy – Works by thickening the dermis and decreasing the color of the stretch mark. This does not remove the stretch mark but can improve it. Lasers are best for immature stretch marks that are still red. Once they have faded, the improvement is significantly less. Laser treatments can be expensive.
- Topical therapy – There are several topical creams claiming to remove or improve stretch marks. I have never seen significant effects with any of these and have never had a single patient tell me they have tried one that works. A new product made by Mederma (Mederma stretch mark cream) claims to work. I like Mederma for scar therapy and stretch marks are a type of scar within the dermis. Time will tell but I would expect minimal benefit at best.