Stretch Mark Removal
Stretch marks, or striae, are a form of skin scarring associated with pregnancy, obesity, puberty, and short-term weight gain from bodybuilding and other physical activities. They form when the dermis – the middle layer of the skin that maintains shape and elasticity – is stretched more than it can tolerate. Connective fibers in the skin eventually break, disrupting collagen production and causing scarring. This scarring may be treatable only through stretch mark removal.
Stretch Mark Removal Candidates
Candidates for stretch mark removal include women who have recently been pregnant, people who have lost massive amounts of weight as a result of bariatric weight loss surgery, people who have gained significant weight through such activities as bodybuilding, and young adults who have experienced a significant growth spurt. Stretch marks are especially common on the thighs, hips, abdomen, lower back, buttocks, and arms.
Natural Stretch Mark Removal
Natural stretch mark removal methods include creams, lotions, and a variety of diet and exercise strategies intended to help repair skin. While generally less expensive than invasive techniques, these approaches are also less effective in removing stretch marks. While some natural products may fade stretch marks slightly, laser and surgical techniques are the only effective ways to remove stretch marks completely.
Laser Stretch Mark Removal
Laser stretch mark removal is a surgical procedure in which a laser is used to remove areas of the skin affected by stretch marks. Once the old, stretched skin is removed, new and unmarred skin grows to replace it. In most cases, a series of treatments is required to completely remove stretch marks. The procedure is very safe with an extremely low incidence of side effects, all of which are temporary and minor.
Surgical Stretch Mark Removal
Surgical stretch mark removal is the most conventional and consistently effective technique available. Surgical techniques involve removing areas of stretched skin. In a tummy tuck procedure, for instance, skin below the belly button is removed. This is often an area in which stretch marks are prominent. Similar techniques are available for other problem areas. These surgical techniques are effective, but are more invasive than other options and thus involve longer recovery time.
Stretch Mark Removal Cost
The cost of stretch mark removal varies widely depending on the technique being used and the severity of the scars in question. Natural techniques like creams and lotions are generally the cheapest and least involved, but also the least effective. Surgical treatment is generally the most expensive, though repeated laser treatments result in similar costs. You should consult your cosmetic dermatology specialist for more detailed information.
Other Stretch Mark Removal Treatments
Cosmetic dermatologists offer a variety of non-surgical alternatives for treating stretch marks. Popular and effective options include chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and blue light therapy. These are good options for patients who want to avoid surgery, and they are generally less expensive than laser stretch mark removal. Like all non-surgical stretch mark treatments, these options are most effective on newer scars. Mature stretch marks may require the use of surgical techniques for total removal.
Chemical peels are most commonly used on the face to treat wrinkles and age spots, but they can be used on other areas of the body for stretch mark removal. In the chemical peel procedure, a chemical solution is applied to the skin using a sponge, cotton pad, cotton swab, or brush. The types and strengths of the chemicals in the solution vary according to the individual patient’s needs. The chemicals essentially peel off the top layers of damaged, dead skin and activate new skin cell production. Patients might feel a stinging or burning sensation during treatment. The recovery period depends on the patient’s skin type and the strength of the chemicals administered, and multiple treatments may be necessary to achieving optimal results. It’s important to bear in mind that a chemical peel will not remove stretch marks completely; however, they usually fade as a result of treatment, and patients emerge with smoother, healthier, more youthful looking skin.
Both microdermabrasion and chemical peels improve the appearance of stretch marks through the removal of the skin’s top layers. Chemical peels achieve this goal by using chemicals to “burn” the top layer away while microdermabrasion uses a fine crystal spray to “blast” the outermost layers of skin. Dead skin cells are removed and new, healthy skin cells take their place. The new cells produce more collagen and elastin, two vital components of smooth, young looking skin. Microdermabrasion is a painless procedure that takes no more than an hour to complete and involves little recovery time. An additional five to twelve treatments are needed to reap the maximum benefits of the procedure. Keep in mind that, although microdermabrasion can improve the appearance of scars, it is not an effective means of complete stretch mark removal.
Blue Light Therapy
Although more widely used for acne treatment, blue light therapy is sometimes used to improve the appearance of stretch marks. Blue light therapy entails the application a photosensitive gel to the skin, which is then exposed to bursts of light energy. While complete stretch mark removal is unrealistic, patients may notice some improvement, especially in the appearance of newer stretch marks.
Consult a Stretch Mark Removal Specialist in Your Area
Because stretch mark removal is customized to the individual patient, consulting a cosmetic dermatologist specializing in stretch mark removal is the best way to get information on your specific case. Use the DocShop listings to find a stretch mark removal specialist near you.