Stretch Marks (Striae) form on areas of the skin that undergo continuous or rapid stretch and tension, and most commonly occur on the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, and breasts. Both males and females experience stretch marks, commonly during rapid growth periods (puberty), weight gain, pregnancy, and even from body building. Stretch marks occur when skin distension affects the connective tissue framework of the skin and damages collagen and elastin. Stretch marks may appear as thin flattened pink skin, red and raised, or as white depressed bands on the skin.
Many people become concerned with the appearance of their stretch marks and want to know the options available for treating them. While many treatments are available to improve the appearance of striae, it has been very difficult to completely get rid of them. Expectant mothers may use intense moisturizers such as cocoa or shea butter, and other over the counter products to help prevent striae from forming. Patients should avoid rapid weight gain or building of body mass in a short period of time, as skin cannot compensate for such quick changes. Topical retinoids and antioxidants have been shown to improve the appearance of stretch marks. These products are available through your provider at Jupiter Dermatology.
Our office provides three laser and light treatments that may further improve the appearance of stretch marks. ND YAG is a vascular laser which helps lessen the appearance of stretch marks by targeting the dilated blood vessels within stretch marks that are red and raised. We typically recommend 3-6 laser treatments for optimal results. CO2 Fractional lasers are used for laser resurfacing in stretch marks that have been present for a longer time. During this procedure, the CO2 laser targets pinpoint areas of the skin in a grid-like pattern, allowing healthy surrounding skin to contract and tighten skin as well as inducing collagen production. More than one treatment may be needed for this procedure. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is a non-laser treatment that helps to induce the production of collagen and elastin, thereby improving the appearance of stretch marks over time. Your provider can evaluate which treatments would be most beneficial, and review any side effects or expected downtime associated with each of these treatments.