By Colleen Dolan, LE
Stretch marks are an unsightly part of nearly everyone’s life. Regardless of why they are there, more than 90% of women and 50% of men are plagued by these stripes in some form. Unfortunately, the likelihood of getting stretch marks is genetically predetermined, but that doesn't mean you have to feel defeated every time you look in the mirror! To understand how we treat stretch marks and what you can do prevent them, it’s best to understand why stretch marks happen in the first place.
How do stretch marks form?
Stretch marks, also known as straie or straie distensae, is technically scar tissue that originates in the dermis. The dermis is the "living layer" of our skin, made up of different types of specialized cells organized in a basketweave fashion. When these different cells work together, they are responsible for giving your skin its plumpness and elasticity. When rapid growth occurs (whether from puberty, weight gain, rapid muscle gain, pregnancy, or even certain medical conditions) the dermis gets stretched to its limit and tears. In an effort to heal as quickly as possible, our body creates only one type of cell (collagen) to fill in the gap. Ultimately, this is the cause of the textural differences between scar tissue and normal, healthy skin.
Can we prevent stretch marks?
For most people, getting stretch marks is inevitable at some point. Most have heard that applying cocoa butter prevents stretch marks, and while hydration can help a little, there is a much better option for prevention- increasing bloodflow. Blood is the food source for our skin and stimulates cell production, making the skin more receptive to stretching. Exfoliation and massage are the best ways of increasing bloodflow to a localized area, but choosing lotions that have stimulating ingredients like Image’s Cell-u-lift and Yonka’s Phyto 152 can also be beneficial.
So how do we make stretch marks go away?
We have performed hundreds of stretch mark removal treatments at Denver Laser Solutions, and we have developed a two-pronged approach to stretch mark removal: nonablative laser treatments combined with customized compound prescription topicals.
What do prescription topicals do for stretch marks?
From person to person, stretch marks vary in depth, color, size, and texture. We have found that there is no one-size-fits-all topical treatment, so we partner with a compound pharmacy to formulate a prescription ointment customized to your needs. Depending on the actives used, this not only can help with the color and texture of the stretch marks but speed the healing of nonablative laser treatments.
How do laser treatments help stretch marks?
At Denver Laser Solutions, we use our fractional nonablative laser to treat stretch marks by creating microinjuries to the skin. This stimulates the cell renewal process in a controlled way and breaks up the scar tissue to blend into the surrounding skin. While we can never get the marks to completely disappear, we can reduce the size, color, and texture in 3-6 treatments.
As with any type of scars that we treat, we highly recommend scheduling a consultation to discuss and create a treatment plan, customized to your own needs.