You’ve tried lotions, gels, creams and oils. Nothing seems to work to get rid of your stretch marks. It’s time to consider laser treatment. While laser treatment won’t completely eliminate stretch marks, it can cause them to fade considerably. Learn what stretch marks are, how lasers can help and what to expect from a laser treatment for stretch mark removal.
Stretch marks are scars that form when your skin enlarges or shrinks rapidly. TThe quick change in weight or size causes fibers in your skin to tear. As they heal, scars form. Stretch marks, also called “striae”, look like streaks on the skin and typically appear on the abdomen, upper arm, buttocks, hips and thighs. At first they tend to be red, purple, pink or brown. The bright streaks usually fade to a lighter color over time. Stretch marks also change the texture of your skin, leaving indentations along the rippled lines. Most common in younger, pregnant women who also have a family history of stretch marks, the striae can also appear after quick weight loss or gain, after quick muscle growth from body building or a growth spurt in puberty, after breast enlargement surgery, during use of topical corticosteroids, or as a result of certain genetic disorders.
In laser stretch mark removal, concentrated rays of light are directed at the stretch marks, stimulating new growth and smoothing the scars. Laser treatments are considered skin resurfacing treatments, helping your skin to heal and create a smoother texture. Laser treatment is more successful on newer stretch marks. The red and pink color of newer stretch marks indicate there are working blood vessels in the skin, which allow for quicker and more complete healing after a laser treatment. The older, white striae are harder to treat because of the lack of blood vessels, which means less collagen production.
There are two types of laser treatments: ablative and non ablative. CO2 and Erbium YAG are types of ablative lasers used for stretch marks treatment. These lasers remove the outer layer of skin, leaving newer, smoother skin. They also trigger a production of collagen in your skin, which helps smooth out the raised scars of stretch marks. CO2 is used for deeper scars while Erbium is for more surface stretch marks. Fraxel laser is a non ablative laser, which is a gentler laser that doesn't remove the top layer of skin. Instead, it stimulates collagen and elastin production, which helps the scars to heal and fade. Like most lasers, Fraxel works best on newer stretch marks, but it also has good results with older, white marks. Unfortunately, if you have darker skin, laser treatments are not recommended for the removal of stretch marks. Frequently, laser treatments on darker skin tones result in hyperpigmentation, or dark spots on the skin.
First, it is important to know that for your laser skin treatment for stretch marks, you will need to plan on multiple sessions to achieve the maximum results. The number of sessions you will need depends on the severity of your stretch marks and the type of laser being used. But, a good average is 4 treatments with a couple of weeks in between each treatment. It’s also good to have expectations that you won’t see complete removal of your stretch marks after your laser treatments sessions. The American Society for Dermatological Surgery estimates a 20%-60% improvement in the appearance of your striae. Laser treatments are outpatient procedures and should only be performed by board-certified practitioners. You will start with a consultation with your doctor where you will go over your health history, current medications and desired results. When you return for your first session, the doctor will numb the area with a topical anesthetic. You will feel some discomfort as the laser beam is moved over the treated area. If you are having the work done by an ablative laser, you can expect more side effects, like raw skin, itching, bleeding, and scabbing. The side effects for a non ablative laser will be lesser and healing time will be shorter. As the skin heals and the scabs fall off, you should see a fading of your stretch marks, which will increasingly grow faint as you repeat your treatments.
Call Vanguard Dermatology in the greater New York City area today to schedule your consultation with a board-certified dermatologist. Vanguard offers a variety of laser treatment options that can prove successful for the treatment of your stretch marks.