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Stretch marks, unfortunately, are a very common problem for patients of all ages and both sexes. Whether the stretch marks are related to growth, weight changes, increase in muscle mass, or pregnancy, they can lead to much concern and discouragement on the part of the patient. Stretch marks can occur on the breasts, arms, abdomen, hips, low back, and legs. Stretch marks also come in different colors such as red, brown, or hypopigmented (meaning loss of pigment and now appearing lighter than one’s natural skin tone). Hypopigmented stretch marks represent quite a challenge because they usually are more mature, whereas red lesions usually represent those that are less than one year old. Despite the color, most stretch marks are treatable, but the key is the right treatment plan and realistic expectations.
What causes stretch marks? Stretch marks are caused by damage to the dermis from over-stretching of the collagen and elastin fibers – causing a tear in the tissue. There is recent speculation that a change in hormonal levels may contribute to someone being more prone to stretch marks. Genetics also play a part in whether you will get stretch marks or not. Almost always, there is little you can do to prevent stretch marks from occurring.
Are stretch marks permanent? Unfortunately, yes. Anyone that claims they have a “cure” to get rid of stretch marks is not being ethical or factual. However, the color of the stretch mark may be dramatically improved if not resolved with the use of lasers and the texture of stretch marks can be improved as well.
Which color of stretch marks are treatable with lasers? All colors of stretch marks are treatable with class IV medical lasers. However, the hypopigmented stretch marks only respond to one kind of laser technology that encourages melanocytes-(the cells that hold color/pigment) from the surrounding areas to migrate to the areas that have lost color. This effect is temporary and requires several visits to reach one’s goals and then maintenance treatments to maintain the pigmentation (color).
What kind of expectations should I have for laser treatment of stretch marks? REALISTIC…A reputable facility/practitioner will set forth realistic goals. Most patients with stretch marks will indicate that they would be satisfied with just improvement. If it sounds too good to be true…as the saying goes…then maybe it is.
What should I ask during a consultation for laser treatment of stretch marks? Ask to see before and after photos of actual patients that represent the type of stretch marks you have. Be certain that the photos are not provided by the manufacturer of the laser. Share with the consultant what your goals are and what concerns you the most. Ask which lasers are recommended to treat your stretch marks and why. Ask how long the recommended treatment plan will take and, most importantly, do your research and come prepared with a good knowledge base.
Who is not a candidate for laser treatment of stretch marks? Those who do not have realistic expectations. Those who plan to have future pregnancies, or expected changes in growth or weight. Those who would benefit more from abdominoplasty (surgical intervention aka: tummy tuck). Please keep in mind that many women are advised that they are NOT candidates for a tummy tuck when they do not present with enough skin/tissue to accomplish this.
When should I consider laser treatment for stretch marks? Current research suggests that the newer the stretch marks – the better potential for improved outcomes with lasers.
At Celibre, we stay at the forefront of research and best practices so that we may offer the most appropriate and effective treatment plans for our valued patients. Please give us a call at 800-897-8489 to learn more about stretch mark treatments.