Stretch marks vary greatly in appearance. These indented lines or streaks in the skin can be pink, black, red, blue or purple in color and cover a large or small area of the body. They form when an individual grows rapidly, gains weight fast, or is pregnant. This causes the skin to stretch so quickly that its elastic tissue actually tears. Stretch marks most often occur on the stomach, breasts, hips, thighs and buttocks.
Those unsightly red, purple or white lines known as stretch marks, are actually scars that form when collagen and elastin fibers in the skin is torn from being overstretch during either a growth spurt in puberty, pregnancy, or rapid weight gain. As for why some people get stretch marks and others don’t, genetics play a role, as does the amount of skin stretched, and an individual’s level of cortisol (a hormone associated with stress).
The only real means of reducing your chance of developing stretch marks is to maintain a healthy weight. Even so, developing some stretch marks as a result of a growth spurt or pregnancy, can be unavoidable.
Forget those over-the-counter creams, the most effective way to truly get rid of the appearance of stretch marks, is with non-surgical and non-ablative fractional laser treatment. At Advanced Laser and Cosmetic Center, we use the gold standard of fractional lasers, the CynoSure Palomar Icon™, the first laser approved by the FDA specifically to treat stretch marks. The Palomar Icon is non-ablative, which means it targets energy beneath the skin’s surface without damaging the top layer, so there's typically no downtime. It uses short pulses of laser light to deeply penetrate the skin creating evenly spaced zones of micro-injury, while also leaving areas of untreated skin. The body's natural healing process kicks in, replacing older, damaged tissue with fresh, new collagen and elastin - the key building blocks of smooth skin. Depending on the size and severity of stretch marks, between 4 and 6 treatments, scheduled at 3-month intervals, are generally required for the best results.
The procedure is simple and usually takes about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the treatment area. There is some minimal discomfort involved, that most people find easily tolerated. However, individuals who are especially sensitive can opt for a topical anesthetic ahead of time.