Stretch marks, also known as striae, are a type of scarring that appears on the dermis of the skin. Stretch marks form during periods of rapid growth of the body, such as puberty, pregnancy, or rapid weight gain.
What causes stretch marks?
Healthy, young skin has a certain degree of elasticity that enables it to stretch and adapt to some amount of growth and expansion. However, it does have its limits. When skin is overstretched, it can alter the texture of the skin, leaving behind stretch marks that may appear darker than the surrounding skin or which may appear shiny or “silvery.” Patients who gain and lose a significant amount of weight, pregnant women, adolescents and young adults experiencing “growth spurts,” and older people whose skin has lost some of its natural elasticity are all more likely to develop stretch marks. Hormonal changes can also contribute to the development of stretch marks, especially fluctuations in cortisone levels which can weaken fibers of collagen, one of the primary components of skin that supports firmness and resiliency.
Can I treat stretch marks with over-the-counter products?
There are dozens of products on the market today that claim to reduce or even eliminate the appearance of stretch marks, but for most patients little to no results will be achieved using these methods. That's because over-the-counter products are designed to penetrate the upper layers of skin to help soften skin superficially and do nothing to correct the underlying causes of stretch marks.
How does my dermatologist perform stretch mark removal?
Dermatologists can remove stretch marks using laser treatments. The highly-focused, intense energy of the laser enables precise targeting of tissues responsible for stretch marks, promoting the development of new collagen so stretch marks are diminished and skin looks and feels firmer, smoother and more resilient. The Cynosure ICON laser system uses state-of-the-art technology for more consistent results regardless of skin tone, texture or thickness.
How many treatments will I need?
While some initial benefits may be visible after a single treatment with the laser system, most patients achieve maximum benefits with a series of four treatments spaced about four to six weeks apart to continue collagen remodeling and to promote healthier-looking skin over time.
If you are interested in treating and removing stretch marks, make an appointment with your dermatologist today!