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 stretchings of the skin, such as pregnancy or puberty. Elevated hormones at the time of pregnancy further increase 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.
What other treatment options are there?
Removal is the only way to completely remove stretch marks. Otherwise, they are very difficult to treat. With most treatment options, expect a 30-50% improvement.
- Microneedling – using a handheld device, such as the Dermapen, hundreds of small, superficial needle injuries are placed in the top layers of the scar. The treatment results in collagen regeneration. Microneedling requires several treatments followed by frequent maintenance visits.
- Microneedling with PRP – PRP, or platelet-rich plasma is harvested from your own blood followed by application to the skin before microneedling. The growth factors associated with PRP are reported to encourage cell regeneration as well as new collagen formation.
- Laser therapy – CO2 and Fraxel lasers have been used for stretch mark treatment. The CO2 laser works on the surface of the skin, whereas the Fraxel laser works below the skin. They both work by thickening the dermis and decreasing the color of the stretch mark. This does not remove the stretch mark but can improve it. You may need several treatments for optimal results.
- 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.