Lasers for Stretch Marks
Stretch marks occur when rapidly expanding skin is stretched to its limit and tiny tears appear in the supporting layers of skin. Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the elastic middle layer of skin that allows it to retain its shape. However, when constantly stretched, the dermis can break down leaving behind the marks. Dermal collagen is damaged and blood vessel dilation results in the formation of red or purple-coloured stretch marks. Over time the redness may fade and the bands may become lighter in colour than the surrounding skin. The bands may become depressed, shiny in appearance or develop an abnormal scar like texture.
About 90% of pregnant women get stretch marks. Growth spurts and sudden or excessive weight gain cause stretch marks in young people. They affect 70% of adolescent females and about 40% of young males. Young women commonly get them on their breasts, thighs, hips, abdomen and buttocks. Young people may also develop stretch marks from participating in certain body-altering sports such as weightlifting or from the use of dangerous bodybuilding steroid drugs.
Stretch marks and pregnancy
Stretch marks are one of the most common and distressing skin changes that occur during pregnancy. They are thought to be contributed by changes in the hormones which then disrupts the protein balance in the skin. Almost 90% of pregnant women will experience stretch marks, usually developing during the third trimester. There is also a genetic predisposition to developing stretch marks during pregnancy as well.
Traditional stretch mark therapies
There are plenty of over-the-counter creams for stretch marks. Unfortunately, no topical remedies have been medically proven to improve the appearance of stretch marks. RetinA, glycolic acid, alphahydroxy acids have been prescribed with very little success. Dermabrasion or chemical peels have also been used. The results of these treatments range from fair to minimal.
Surgical options 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. It also works by tightening the skin in nearby regions. These surgical techniques are effective, but are more invasive than other options and thus involve longer recovery time.
New advances in lasers have shown improvement in stretch marks treatment. The degree of success with laser treatment is however determined by your age, your skin tone and especially the age of the stretch marks.
How do laser treatments work?
These lasers stimulate the skin’s natural regeneration of collagen. It also removes damaged tissue and dilated/ abnormal blood vessels. When the above mechanisms happen, the abnormal fibers in the dermal layer of skin are replaced by new and normal skin, which then results in the improvement of the stretch marks.
What lasers are used to treat stretch marks?
At SW1 Clinic, we use a variety of lasers to treat stretch marks to ensure maximum results. Our doctors will advise you on the most suitable combination of treatments for you after a detailed consultation. Below are some of the oft used lasers in SW1 Clinic to treat stretch marks.
Vbeam Perfecta laser
Vbeam Perfecta is a pulsed dye vascular laser that is used to treat the red or younger stretch marks. The procedure is comfortable and has no downtime. Mild redness with some minimal localized swelling after treatment is typically gone by the next day. Treatments are done at monthly intervals. Vbeam Perfecta may be combined with other lasers such as the Fraxel in more severe cases.
The Fraxel laser is one of the most effective treatments for stretch marks available today. Using Fraxel, we can stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis while resurfacing almost 20% of your skin’s surface to remove damaged tissue with each treatment. After a series of Fraxel treatments, the texture, diameter and depth of the stretch marks can be improved. If the stretch marks are red, the Vbeam Perfecta laser should be used in combination with Fraxel.
With Fraxel, an “airbrush” of laser removes your skin’s imperfections in micro-treatment zones beneath the surface, but minimises skin recovery time and risks of complications. Redness that resembles a sunburn reaction dissipates within a few days. No major downtime is imposed when Fraxel is used on the body.
SmartX Resurfacing uses state-of-the-art fractional CO2 technology to effectively treat stretch marks. It has the added benefit of being one of the best lasers for skin tightening. Your skin is resurfaced deeply a fraction at a time, allowing minimal downtime with maximal results. Collagen and elastin is stimulated intensively to tighten your skin and fill up the marks.