Almost everyone – especially women – has stretch marks. They’re nothing to be ashamed of, but still, stretch marks are the source of major insecurity for many people. Maybe you’re tired of seeing your stretch marks every day in the mirror and you’re considering laser stretch mark removal or other cosmetic treatments. But how effective are various cosmetic procedures and home remedies for removing stretch marks? Is stretch marks removal even possible? Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Daneshmand answers these questions and more below.
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks, also known as striae distensae, are lines in the skin that appear when the skin stretches or contracts a lot in a small amount of time. More specifically, stretch marks appear when collagen fibers break in the middle layer of the skin, called the dermis.
The appearance of stretch marks is generally red or purple at first because blood vessels in the deeper layers of skin become more visible. Early stretch marks may also feel bumpy and itchy. Then, stretch marks fade into a similar color as your skin. However, many stretch marks are still very visible and often cause a dramatic drop in self-confidence for many people.
Where Do Stretch Marks Appear The Most?
Stretch marks can appear almost anywhere on the body that stretches and shrinks from fat or muscle gain. But the most common places that stretch marks appear are on the:
- Lower abdomen
- The tricep area of the arms
- Lower back
Who Gets Stretch Marks?
Anyone who experiences extreme weight gain or weight loss in a short amount of time can develop stretch marks. The most common types of people to develop stretch marks are:
- Pregnant women
- People who gain weight from extreme muscle building
- People who gain weight quickly during growth spurts or puberty
- Those who have several family members with stretch marks
- Those who have been taking the steroid drug Prednisone for long periods of time
- People who suffer from Marfan syndrome or Cushing’s syndrome
While both men and women can develop stretch marks at any age, young women are more likely to have these types of scars because of weight gain during puberty and pregnancy.
How Many Pregnant Women Develop Stretch Marks?
According to a 2012 study, between 50% and 90% of women develop stretch marks during pregnancy. Many women notice stretch marks on their lower abdomen, hips, thighs, and breasts during and after pregnancy.
Are Stretch Marks Permanent?
Yes, stretch marks are permanent. Stretch marks are basically scar tissue. While scars have the ability to fade over time, they rarely disappear completely.
There are many types of cosmetic treatments and home remedies that can improve the appearance of stretch marks and other types of scars. Sometimes these treatments can get rid of stretch marks, depending on the skin type. However, when treating stretch marks with any type of cream or laser treatment, it’s important to have realistic expectations.
Cosmetic Treatments for Stretch Marks Removal
At Silhouette Plastic Surgery Institute’s Med Spa, we offer a variety of cosmetic procedures that are designed to give you beautiful, glowing skin. Below, we explain the treatment options that are designed to fade or remove stretch marks.
Laser therapy treats a variety of skin issues – such as scarring, texture issues, rosacea, wrinkles, etc. – with intense pulsed light. This intense light can create more collagen production in the skin. Collagen is a type of protein that builds strong connective tissues in the body. Not only is collagen a crucial component of youthful, healthy skin, but it’s also important for ligaments, tendons, muscles, hair, bones, etc.
Several sessions of laser treatments such as laser skin resurfacing, CO2 laser skin resurfacing, and pico laser treatment can drastically improve the appearance of stretch marks according to a 2017 study.
Microdermabrasion is basically deep skin exfoliation. Exfoliation works by gently scrubbing away dead and damaged skin cells on the upper layer of skin. You can exfoliate on a regular basis at home, but at-home exfoliation may not get deep enough to make scar tissue fade away. When it comes to treating scar tissue, it’s best to work with an experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
But how effective is microdermabrasion for stretch mark removal? A 2017 study suggests that while microdermabrasion didn’t completely get rid of stretch marks, it greatly improved the appearance.
RF (radiofrequency) microneedling is another widely used option for treating stretch marks. This minimally invasive cosmetic procedure works by creating tiny holes in the skin which promotes collagen and elastin production. After a few treatments, many patients notice smoother, tighter, and more youthful skin.
Not only is RF microneedling beneficial for stretch marks, but it also works to combat aging, sun damage, and smile lines.
The same 2017 study that was linked above claims that microneedling was more effective at improving stretch mark appearance than microdermabrasion.
Chemical peels are another type of skin exfoliation. This type of skin exfoliation is much deeper than microdermabrasion because it uses glycolic acid. Glycolic acid works by getting rid of dead skin cells and promoting new, healthy skin growth.
It’s possible to do a chemical peel at home, but at-home glycolic acid products generally aren’t as powerful as glycolic acid that dermatologists and plastic surgeons use. So for optimal results, it’s best to seek treatment from a professional.
But how well do chemical peels work for stretch marks removal? A 2018 study suggests that collagen production from a chemical peel may make stretch marks look smaller and thinner. But a chemical peel alone is unlikely to get rid of stretch marks.
You shouldn’t undergo these procedures JUST for stretch marks removal. If you have excess fat in your stomach, breasts, or thighs, then these procedures could remove the unwanted fat and the stretch marks.
Before resorting to invasive surgical procedures like a tummy tuck, a breast lift, or a thigh lift, be sure to discuss all your options with a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Daneshmand. He will help you achieve your aesthetic goals.
Natural Treatments for Stretch Marks Removal
A variety of home remedies can treat stretch marks, but the effectiveness of various stretch mark creams varies from person to person. The following home remedies may help stretch marks appear less visible.
- Retin-A is a synthetic form of vitamin A that can make the skin look younger, smoother, and more beautiful because it helps create more collagen in the skin. It’s unlikely that Retin-A will remove stretch marks, but it might improve the color and texture of the scar lines.
- Aloe Vera is a well-known skin treatment for open wounds, burns, and even some types of acne. Because aloe vera works so well at healing other minor skin issues, it may help heal stretch marks over time.
- Coconut Oil is incredibly hydrating for the skin. In fact, multiple studies indicate that coconut oil can speed up the wound healing process, improve dry skin, and heal some minor infections. That being said, there’s very little evidence to suggest that coconut oil alone will make stretch marks disappear. More likely, it could help keep the skin hydrated and promote the healing of several different types of skin issues. If you know that you’re allergic to coconut products, then don’t use coconut oil on your skin.
- Hyaluronic Acid is an ingredient that’s in many different types of skin creams. A 2014 study claims that this ingredient can gradually improve skin elasticity. Meanwhile, another study from 2017 suggests that regular hyaluronic acid treatment could make stretch marks look better.
- Centella Asiatica is a popular ingredient in cica creams. Regular use of this ingredient can promote scar healing while soothing sensitive skin. In fact, the same 2017 study that was linked above claims that centella can make stretch marks look better.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks
The best treatment for stretch marks is prevention. But it’s important to note that you could buy every expensive skin cream under the sun and undergo every type of laser stretch mark removal and still have stretch marks. They are part of a healthy, ever-changing body and they’re nothing to be ashamed of.
The best way to prevent stretch marks is to keep the skin moisturized during pregnancy or a period of weight gain. Popular moistuizing ingredients include cocoa butter, olive oil, almond oil, and vitamin E. Not only will moisturizers potentially prevent new stretch marks from forming during pregnancy, but they will also relieve any skin tightness or itching that comes with a growing belly.
Protect your skin from the sun. Some sun exposure has lots of mental and physical health benefits, but as we all know, too much sun leads to the general breakdown of collagen in the skin. Collagen breakdown can raise your risks of developing not only wrinkles, but stretch marks too.
Another way to keep the skin healthy and youthful is to consume plenty of nutrients on a daily basis through whole foods or even a high-quality multi-vitamin. Additionally, it’s important to drink plenty of water every day. Adequate hydration and a nutritious diet has incredible anti-aging properties that no cosmetic procedure or skin cream can provide alone.
Lastly, do your best to avoid major weight fluctuations, especially in a short amount of time. It’s normal for weight to fluctuate 5 to 10lbs over the course of a year. But a weight fluctuation of 25 to 35 pounds in the span of a few months is tough on the skin. Weight fluctuations like this can lead to the development of stretch marks. In order to avoid major weight fluctuations, eat a balanced diet, engage in regular stress-relief activities, and make sure your hormones are balanced through annual blood tests with your primary care doctor.
If You’re Looking for Stretch Marks Removal, Call Silhouette Plastic Surgery Institute Today
At the Med Spa at Silhouette Plastic Surgery Institute, we are passionate about providing treatments for all sorts of aesthetic rejuvenation, including stretch marks removal. Our goal is to make sure all our patients exit our building feeling more beautiful. If your stretch marks or other skin issues are causing a major drop in your self-confidence, schedule a free consultation with Dr. Daneshmand by calling 949-359-8397.