Stretch Marks: How They Form and How to Deal With ThemOctober 3, 2018
Stretch marks; about half of us will have them at some point in our lives. In terms of their cellular structure, they’re actually quite similar to regular scarring. They affect both men and women, and they often occur during rapid weight fluctuations, a growth spurt in childhood, or during pregnancy. Some women get stretch marks after having breast enlargement surgery. Basically, stretch marks occur when the skin is stretched to the point that elastin fibres tear slightly, leaving a mark or a line similar to a scar.
Cortisone, a hormone released by the adrenal gland in response to stress, wears down elastin fibres in your skin, so medications containing cortisone can make you more prone to stretch marks. Stretch marks can also appear with some medical conditions that affect your hormones, like Cushing’s syndrome.
Is there any way to prevent stretch marks, or get rid of the ones we have? Technically speaking, there isn’t much evidence on preventative measures, but there are treatments that really reduce their appearance.
If other members of your family have stretch marks, you’re more likely to get them. Some women find that using a moisturiser while pregnant can minimise stretch marks, but there is not much research to support this claim. If you are going to try, be sure to use a moisturiser that is labelled safe for pregnancy.
Topical serums and creams that contain Vitamin A (aka retinol) have been found to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, but only of you start using them as soon as the stretch marks appear.
Some doctors recommend microdermabrasion, which involves a gentle chemical peel, exfoliation and suction of the dead skin cells. While we find that this treatment is excellent for acne, we don’t generally recommend it for stretch marks.
When treating stretch marks, it’s best to use a treatment that can target the scar tissue and stimulate collagen at the same time. For example, our Pico Repair treatment involves a brand new model of Pico laser which uses vibrational energy to gently break down scar tissue at deeper layers of skin, without breaking the skin’s surface. This energy also stimulates the fibroblast cells, which produce collagen and elastin, to start repairing your skin at the cellular level.
We can also use a Fraxel laser or Radiofrequency Needling (RF Needling) to treat stretch marks. The Fraxel laser delivers tiny, pixel-sized pulses of heat to the deeper layers of skin to stimulate a micro-wound healing response in your skin. RF Needling involves a similar method, but it uses radiofrequency energy and micro-sized pin pricks to stimulate that healing response in your skin. Both treatments essentially trick your skin into healing itself, and thus, repairing its stretch marks and scars.
Stretch marks can vary between people. Some are darker in colour, others lighter. Some are raised like scars, others are depressed into skin. The laser we recommend will depend on the cause of your stretch marks and how they’ve presented themselves. We also consider your skin type when making recommendations because some skin types respond better to certain treatments. You can also maximise your results by combining laser treatments with topical serums and creams.
The key to treating stretch marks effectively, though, is to treat them as soon as possible. They have a tendency to respond best to treatments and topical creams while the marks are still relatively fresh.
Do you want to get rid of your stretch marks?
Book a free consultation and one of our experienced Clinicians will assess your stretch marks in order to recommend the best treatments for you.