Stretch Mark Removal Overview
Striae, commonly known as stretch marks, appear when the skin is stretched over a short period of time. Stretch marks may present as shiny, raised or dipped stripes on the skin, and may appear brightly colored, or silvery white. They tend to develop during periods of rapid weight gain, such as a pregnancy. The most common method of treatment is laser therapy, in which a laser penetrates the surface of the skin to destroy the affected skin cells.
Stretch mark removal can also be performed during a tummy tuck (also known as an abdominoplasty), although this is a result of the excision of skin and not usually an intended ancillary procedure.
Before undergoing laser treatment, a patient should avoid sun exposure as it can increase the chance of post-procedural hyper-pigmentation, or darkening of the skin. Dr. Vallecillos may also recommend that you take a painkiller before the treatment to minimize discomfort.
Generally, anesthesia is not necessary for the procedure, though a topical anesthetic can be used to lessen a patient’s discomfort during the laser treatment.
- During treatment, the laser is applied to the area(s) to be treated. The most common areas for stretch marks are the stomach, thighs, hips, and arms.
For stretch marks that are red or brightly colored, a pulsed-dye laser may be effective. For stretch marks that are white or lightly colored, or where texture is at issue, a fraxel laser therapy may be more effective. Dr. Vallecillos will discuss beforehand which option is best for you.
A derma roller may also be used in conjunction with laser therapy to help maximize results. A derma roller is a small, hand-held device containing tiny needles that penetrate and cause minute injury to the dermis. After being applied to the stretch marks, the body’s natural healing process will stimulate the production of collagen, allowing new skin to form.
Finally, if you suffer from stretch marks on your stomach and are already planning to undergo an abdominoplasty, talk to Dr. Vallecillos about the possibility of stretch mark removal during your surgery. Later laser therapy may still be necessary and could help to maximize results.
Stretch Mark Removal FAQ
Who is a candidate for stretch mark removal?
You should consider laser therapy for stretch mark removal if you suffer from stretch marks on your stomach, thighs, hips, arms, or other areas of the body. You should also be at a steady weight and not expecting any pregnancies in the near future or other extreme weight fluctuations, as these can contribute to the development of new stretch marks that would require additional treatments. Laser therapy is most effective on stretch marks that are still red or brightly colored.
What is the recovery time for stretch mark removal?
Most patients have little to no downtime after laser therapy, although there may be some temporary redness and swelling in the treated areas.
If a patient does undergo stretch mark removal as part of an abdominoplasty, recovery time will be much longer.
Are there risks or side effects with stretch mark removal?
Laser therapy is non-invasive, and side effects are minimal. You may experience some temporary redness and swelling, and skin may feel dry, itchy, or peel depending on how rigorous your treatment is. Blistering is rare but can occur.
The risks and side effects of an abdominoplasty are different, and should be reviewed if you are considering this procedure.
How long do the results last?
The effects of laser stretch mark removal are long lasting. After the procedure, the skin will heal and new skin will form. Although stretch marks cannot be completely removed, they can be greatly lightened and diminished in appearance.
While results are long lasting, future weight gain may cause new stretch marks to form, which would require additional treatments to remove.