WHAT ARE STRETCH MARKS?

A common occurance women often experience are unwanted fine lines in the skin called ‘stretch marks’. This scarring of the skin often occurs due to rapid growth or stretching, like from weight gain, bodybuilding, and most commonly, pregnancy. Stretch marks sometimes go away on their own, but more often than not, women are stuck with their stretch marks forever unless treated.

 

SCIENCE OF STRETCH MARKS

Stretch Marks, also known as striae gravidarum, are a series of marks which are caused by rapid periods of growth.  During this growth cycle there is not sufficient collagen to support your skins elastic needs. The  elastin fibers are overstretched, almost like an overstretched shirt, and never return to their previous form.  During the overstretching process, inflammation causes white blood cells to build up and a subsequent loss of elastic tissue. The  collagen is lost leading to visibly thinner looking skin (one reason why blood vessels are often seen and there is a reddish hue in some stretch marks).

 

TREATING STRETCH MARKS BY CAUSE

THIN SKIN

Thin skin is often treated by a variety of agents.  Retinols can help nourish skin but are unlikely to transform overly stretched elastic fibers into their previous state.  Retinols do stimulate fibroblasts to help with this process. Injection of some fillers, including Sculptra (off-label use), as well as the use of resurfacing techniques can help to thicken skin and create more collagen.  C02 lasers as well as radiofrequency can be game changers.

REDDISH DISCOLORATION OF SKIN

Lasers can target the underlying blood vessels seen in fresh stretch marks.  The reddish discoloration can make stretch marks stand out and draw attention to their presence.  IPL, PIQO lasers, Nd:YAG and others can help improve the quality of the skin.

 

TREATING STRETCH MARKS BY SPECIFIC THERAPIES

FORMA

Forma is a rejuvenation device that stimulates contraction of the skin leaving you with tighter, more youthful looking skin. Using a built-in temperature sensor and taking a “top down” approach, Forma uses controlled heat from the outermost skin to the deep subcutaneous tissue to help contract tissue. Not only does Forma help to stimulate new collagen and improve elasticity of the skin, but Forma also provides a great deal of safety because of the real-time skin temperature monitoring. This means that the device has a specific cut-off temperature that allows for tightening and collagen formation without the patient getting burned.

FRACTORA

Fractora is a radio frequency device that uses microneedles to help treat the skin by helping to produce collagen. Taking a “Bottom Top” approach, Fractora’s RF microneedles are inserted deep into the dermis of the skin, where a pulse of energy is sent into the dermis. This allows for the formation of depleted collagen, which allows for the improvement of texture and overall appearance of the skin. This is a great option for treating the  “mommy tummy”.

 

CO2 LASER

CO2 lasers work by targeting the water molecules in the skin. This helps in reducing scars, wrinkles and stretch marks and leaves the skin with a smoother, tighter and polished complexion. The CO2 laser penetrates the deepest layers of the dermis in order to stimulate cellular turnover and the loss of the outer most layer of the skin. This allows the patient to have significant increase in skin tightness and higher rate of success in removing deep scarring.

However, CO2 Lasers (and most lasers, in general) are not for all skin types. Women with a skin type of One or Two on the Fitzpatrick Scale will often see better results than skin types higher on this scale. Most people higher on the scale could experience pain from the intense heat and a lightening of the pigment in their skin.

 

THREADLIFTS

The use of threadlift sutures can be helpful in abdominal stretch marks.  The sutures often transform into collagen and can be used to target each stretch mark providing support (which is often missing in stretch marks).  We typically recommend the use of PLLA sutures rather than PDO sutures for this application due to longevity.

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