Stretch Mark Removal: Causes, Side Effects and Treatment Options
Many people hate how stretch marks look on their body, so they look for a stretch mark removal treatment to aid them in the relief that the anxiety from stretch marks brings them. Approximately 80% of woman have stretch marks. Stretch marks are scarring of the skin that have an off hue colouring to them. They are linear, appearing on the surface of the skin. Stretch marks, or striae distensae, are very common and are rarely a sign of a medical condition. They will often appear on the buttocks, abdomen, chest, armpits, thighs, upper arms, and breasts on individuals and are typically painless. They are seen commonly in those that have recently gained or lost weight, those that are obese, and those that are pregnant. Stretch marks can also occur due to growing too fast, during hormonal changes and during puberty. Stretch marks can be genetic, so a woman whose mother had stretch marks is more likely to get them if their mother had stretch marks after delivering her.
Other factors that can make an individual more susceptible to having stretch marks include those that are body building. A fast gain of muscle mass could potentially stretch the skin past it’s limits. Corticosteroids can lead to stretch marks if they are used heavily or an individual has used them for a long period of time. People with darker skin tones are less likely to have stretch marks. An individual may develop stretch marks from a nutritional deficiency as well.
What are some stretch mark removal options?
There are many different options for stretch mark removal. Those include:
The fractional laser works well for a stretch mark removal option. This is an FDA approved treatment that is fast and easy. The treatment has a very high patient satisfaction rating, with the laser being precisely controlled. The process can work on any part of the body, and can treat new or old stretch marks. Both men and woman can equally use this treatment. Fractional laser benefits include little to no downtime, smoother looking skin, no surgery, and an overall improved skin appearance. Fractional laser treatment is a process that is very well tolerated by many individuals, and can work on both those that have light and dark skin tones. The process can be performed in as little as half an hour. For optimal results, 3 to 5 sessions are normally needed. Regular activities can be performed right after the treatment. Side effects are minimal, such as some temporary redness after the treatment that can last at most a few days. Infection is a very rare risk. The process has very little pain, but in many cases pain management is offered. In most cases, fractional laser treatments are highly effective in treating stretch marks. Both the epidermis and dermis are treated. An anesthetic cream will be applied to the skin for up to an hour, then washed off. A gliding gel will help the robotic hand piece glide over the skin. Usually within half an hour, the treatment is completed. A cooling machine is used to help keep the individual comfortable. Post treatment, the skin will be red in colour for up to 5 days. A mild sunburn sensation may be felt for about an hour after the treatment. When choosing a skin specialist to perform fractional laser treatments, make sure he or she has been properly trained to do the procedure, and always ask to see stretch mark removal before and after photos, as well as ask who, if anyone will be assisting with the procedure. Anyone that is assisting should have specialized training in fractional laser treatments. Per one treatment of laser treatment, the cost typically seen is an average of $600.
Retinoid Creams can help to improve the appearance of a stretch mark, but usually only if they are still pink and red in colour. Those that are pregnant or nursing may wish to avoid this treatment until after pregnancy or nursing is over. Retinoid Creams have been designed to rebuild the collagen in the skin, which will help to make the skin look normal. However, this cream can irritate the skin and will not be effective on older stretch marks.
Blue Light Therapy
Blue light therapy is used to help remove stretch marks. Individuals will see an improvement in the skin, however, complete stretch mark removal is not an obtainable goal. This therapy works the best on newer stretch marks.
Microdermabrasion can be used for stretch mark removal. A hand held device will blow crystals onto the skin to polish the skin. The crystals will then be vacuumed up with the dead skin cells, which will reveal a newer looking skin. Microdermabrasion will reveal fresher looking skin, but will not completely fade away the stretch marks. Average cost of a microdermabrasion session is about $250.
Chemical peels have been used to treat individuals with stretch marks. A chemical solution will be applied to the skin, which will remove the top layer of the skin. New skin cells are then activated, revealing fresher looking skin. Multiple chemical peels may be needed to see desired effects. This process will help to fade the stretch marks, however, it is good to note that chemical peels will not erase stretch marks all together. Cost of a chemical peel will vary depending on the type of peel, area of treatment and age of the stretch mark, but typically run anywhere from $75 to $600 or more per treatment.
Cosmetic surgery is generally very expensive for stretch mark removal. A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, can remove stretch marks on the stomach. It is rarely recommended by skin specialists. It can lead to scarring of the skin and has a large number of risk associated with it. Cost associated with cosmetic surgery or the tummy tuck typically run anywhere from $3,000 and up.
How does one know which stretch mark removal option is best for an individual?
There are many factors that one has to look at when picking a stretch mark removal option. The age of the stretch marks will be the biggest factor to consider. Other factors to tell the skin specialist include how much one expects to pay for a treatment, as well as how many treatments the individual is desiring to have. Another factor will be what the expectations are for each treatment or what the expectations of what the skin should look like post treatment.
When looking for a solution for stretch mark removal, look to your skin specialist for help. He or she should be able to help decide which treatment is the most effective one for an individual. Do note that some procedures will simply fade the stretch mark, and not make it completely go away. Your skin specialist will most likely want to know when the stretch marks were first noticed, if cortisone skin creams are used on a regular basis, and what medications are being taken. When first consulting with the skin specialist for stretch mark removal, do ask what is likely causing the stretch marks, what treatment options are the best based on your scenario, and what the pros and cons of each treatment are.