I’ve been obsessed by stretch marks for 35 years. Pretty much as long as I’ve had stretch marks. Yes, a whole 35 years ago, and as a result of pregnancy. I’ve tried all sorts of topical creams, including lightening creams, vitamin E, Bio-oil. You name it, I’ve tried it, with no real marked improvement.
I’ve been determined to find a treatment for stretch marks for some time, and my own frustration with stretch marks, led me on a quest to finding a treatment that really improves the appearance of stretch marks. Not just newer stretch marks, but old stretch marks like mine.
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks, in dermatology are referred to as striae. They are a form of scarring and are generally a white or pink color. What causes stretch marks is tearing within the middle layer of the skin called the dermis. This dermis layer is located directly below the epidermis, and is the layer of skin that accounts for the skin’s firmness and shape.
Who is susceptible to stretch marks?
Stretch marks can occur in both male and female. Genetics can play a role in the occurrence of stretch marks, along with any physical changes, e.g. weight loss, weight gain. A rapid expansion of the skin such as body building or other fast weight changes, pregnancy, hormonal changes associated with puberty, pregnancy or hormone replacement therapy.
During pregnancy, stretch marks form on the abdomen, but also on the breasts, hips, thighs, lower back and buttocks They usually start off as a red color or as purplish lines. Gradually they fade to a lighter shade. Stretch marks are soft to touch and seem to be shallow or empty. Although they pose no health risks they can be cosmetically unattractive and even embarrassing. Wherever there is a predisposition to areas where large amounts of fat are stored, such as abdomen, upper arms, underarms, thighs, buttocks and hips, stretch marks can appear.
How can we treat stretch marks?
There are a number of treatments either singularly or in combination that can improve the appearance of stretch marks. I’m the type of person that is looking for a treatment where I can see improvements fairly quickly. Most treatments for stretch marks need to be performed as a series. Collagen induction Therapy (CIT) also known as micro-needling improves the appearance of stretch marks as a stand-alone treatment, but combine it with Laser Genesis and the results are pretty incredible, as you can see from the before and after photos of my 35 year old stretch marks.
The micro-needling helps to thicken the skin over the stretch marks and restores the contours of the epidermal surface, not only improving the appearance of stretch marks but skin texture as well. As the body’s natural healing mechanisms kick-in, the production of collagen and elastin is triggered. In combination with Laser Genesis applied directly after needling, micro-pulses of laser energy are emitted to activate collagen remodelling. The results using this combination are far more superior in treating even old stretch marks like mine, with little to no downtime.
Fractional Laser resurfacing is another treatment that works in the same way, using scattered pulses of light that create microscopic wounds, which again trigger the body’s own healing function producing new collagen. This procedure, although an excellent treatment has a five to ten day downtime factor, and needs to be treated like an open wound, meaning that regular vinegar washes are required throughout the healing process and an occlusive applied. So, there’s a bit of after-care involved.
How many sessions are required?
This is really going to depend on the age and color of the stretch marks. The newer the stretch marks, the less treatments required, however it’s best to start with a course of three treatments at two weekly intervals. Fractional Laser Resurfacing will require one to three treatments at four to six weekly intervals. Again, this could vary depending on the individual skin type, condition, and the age of the stretch marks.