Stretch marks are a form of skin scarring associated with pregnancy, obesity, puberty, and short-term weight gain from bodybuilding and other physical activities. They form when the dermis – the middle layer of the skin that maintains shape and elasticity – is stretched more than it can tolerate. Connective fibers in the skin eventually break, disrupting collagen production and causing scarring. This scarring may be treatable only through stretch mark removal.
Both men and women are susceptible to stretch marks, particularly on the thighs, hips, arms, buttocks, abdominal area, and lower back. There are several causes of stretch marks, including:
Genetics: Women are more likely to get belly stretch marks if their mother, for instance, had stretch marks after pregnancy. Significant weight gain and loss: Your skin stretches as your weight fluctuates, sometimes resulting in stretch marks.
Puberty: Growth spurts during puberty often result in stretch marks as the skin is unable to keep up with the body's rate of growth.
Bodybuilding: Rapid development of muscle mass may stretch the skin beyond its limits.
Corticosteroids: Heavy or long-term use of oral or topical corticosteroids, a widely used pharmaceutical steroid compound, can lead to stretch mark formation.
Ethnicity: People with darker skin are less likely to have stretch marks.
Stretch marks after pregnancy are particularly common. Nearly three in four women will develop stretch marks on their legs, abdomen, hips, and other areas of the body affected by weight gain during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, the skin expands and stretches to its limit, causing tiny tears in the supporting layers of skin. These tiny tears are stretch marks that appear as glossy, white streaks in the skin. Many women who have stretch marks after pregnancy turn to laser stretch mark removal to eliminate this unwanted scarring. This treatment is designed to give women the renewed, youthful appearance they desire.
Traditional stretch mark removal treatments include creams, lotions, and recommendations for regular diet and exercise. There are a wide variety of products available on the market for natural stretch mark removal. However, these methods fail to produce satisfactory results for many individuals, particularly those with old, well-developed stretch mark scars. In these cases, more involved medical treatment may be the only effective option.Results
It is difficult to accurately gauge the effectiveness of natural stretch mark removal strategies. An array of products claim to remove or reduce the appearance of stretch marks, but very little real data is available to support these claims. In general, these products are most effective when applied to fresh stretch marks. Even in these cases, however, natural stretch mark removal products often simply help the stretch mark fade more quickly.Benefits
Natural stretch mark removal products, such as Striae Stretch Mark Removal cream, are typically less expensive than more involved cosmetic dermatology procedures. The products used are widely available for purchase both over the internet and from a variety of skin care retailers. Because they are non-surgical, their use does not require visits to a clinic or spa, and the better known brands are generally very safe.Risks
There are a number of potential risks associated with natural stretch mark removal. Because there are so many topical products available that claim to heal stretch marks, each product is subject to relatively little oversight. This means that some of the less reputable products are largely or totally ineffective. Worse still, it is possible that some of these products may contain ingredients that actually pose a health risk to the customer. Additionally, the cost of exploring a variety of ineffective natural options can be comparable to the cost of a single reliable professional treatment.
During a laser stretch mark removal procedure, a beam of light removes thin layers of skin around the stretch marks. The excimer laser is uniquely effective for this procedure. Instead of burning or cutting the affected skin areas like other lasers, it uses high-energy ultraviolet laser light to disrupt the molecular bonds in the skin tissue, which causes the tissue to disintegrate in a process known as ablation. Once laser stretch mark removal is complete, the treated area will heal quickly, and new layers of healthy skin will form. Stretch marks will have disappeared, and a renewed, healthy appearance will result.Recovery
Immediately following laser stretch mark removal, the affected area will be red and tender. This is because layers of scarred skin have been removed and new skin is being grown. Occasionally blistering and other symptoms typical of a burn injury may be present, but these are temporary. Most patients heal from a treatment within a few days, but healing has been known to take as long as a few weeks in certain cases, particularly those requiring more extensive therapy.Results
Laser stretch mark removal is highly effective in most cases. As with any other technique, success is dependent on the prevalence and age of the stretch marks in question - older and more serious stretch marks are more difficult to treat. Patients often require as many as 10 treatments to completely remove stretch marks. In the most serious cases, even a series of laser treatments may only reduce the visibility of stretch marks rather than removing them completely. Each case is unique.Benefits
The most important benefit of laser stretch mark removal is its effectiveness. The treatment has a very high rate of patient satisfaction. It is also extremely safe; the excimer laser is precisely controlled, with little potential to cause injury. Ultimately, it is less invasive than surgical body sculpting procedures such as tummy tucks, with less recovery time, lower cost, and fewer potential complications.Risks
As with any medical procedure, laser stretch mark removal is not completely without risk. Because the laser has the ability to ablate the skin, it is possible that a mishandled laser could cause some superficial tissue damage. For this reason, you should choose your cosmetic dermatologist carefully. There is always a risk that severely entrenched stretch marks may not be completely removable with laser treatment. There is also the risk of blistering and other negative reactions to the treatment, but these complications are temporary and not life threatening.