Unsightly stretch marks (medically termed striae distensae) are a very common problem for many men and women. Stretch marks are generally considered unsightly, disfiguring and unacceptable by many people.
What do stretch marks look like?
Recent or immature stretch marks are flattened areas of skin which appear pink or red in colour (striae rubra) and may be itchy and slightly raised. As stretch marks mature they tend to increase in length and develop a dark purple colour. Over time stretch marks eventually attain a white colour (striae alba) and become depressed. Under a microscope stretch marks resemble the appearance of scars.
What causes stretch marks?
While the exact cause of stretch marks is unknown, it is thought that stretch marks are the result of a breakdown in the structures that provide the skin with its strength and elasticity.
Who gets stretch marks?
Stretch marks are two and a half times as frequent in women than men and affect up to 90% of pregnant women. Stretch marks are also commonly seen in body builders and any others who have experienced rapid weight gain.
In some individuals normal growth itself may be a cause with stretchmarks commonly developing during adolescence and associated with a rapid increase in the size of particular body regions.
In certain people stretchmarks can be linked to higher levels of steroid hormones as a result of such things as treatment with steroid medications or illnesses such as Cushings disease
Where do stretch marks occur?
The commonest sites are the thighs, upper arms, buttocks and breasts in women,.the abdomen in pregnant women and outer aspects of the thighs and lower back in men
Stretch mark Treatments
Successfully treating stretch marks has proven to be a challenge with no one therapeutic option offering complete treatment. The optimal treatment modality for an individual needs evaluation of the stage of the stretch marks (rubra or alba) and skin type. Expectations need to be realistic and several treatment strategies are often necessary. No matter which treatment approach used the earlier the treatment the more effective the results.
Creams containing Centella Asiatica extract have been shown to be effective in preventing stretch mark development in pregnant women. The mechanism of action was through stimulation of fibroblast cells in the skin inhibiting the effects of glucocorticoids.
Diet and Exercise
There is a lack of data showing any beneficial effects of diets and weight loss on stretch marks. Weight loss programs using diet alone or a combination of diet and exercise have not been shown to change the degree of stretch marks
Skin Needling (Dermapen TM)
Skin needling is effective in treating many skin conditions such as acne scars, stretchmarks and fine wrinkles. Skin needling induces a reaction in the skin causing dermal remodelling and repair. Skin needling can be effective in improving both pink and white stretchmarks. A series of 5 – 10 sessions are usually necessary.
Laser treatment of stretch marks?
Several laser techniques are available to try and improve stretch marks. The light energy from the laser is thought to stimulate the fibroblasts in the skin to begin to divide again and possibly also stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. This thickens the skin under the stretch mark until it closely resembles the surrounding normal skin.
Which stretch marks respond best to laser?
Results may vary from patient to patient and may not be immediate. Importantly some patients do not get any significant improvement. Results from laser stretch marks treatment are generally progressive and may require multiple treatments. About 80% of patients receiving laser treatments for their stretch marks notice an improvement. Newer and shallower stretch marks respond better than older deeper ones. The best results tend to be found with red stretch marks (striae rubra) in lighter skinned individuals.
What type of laser is used?
Vascular lasers can be used to target red stretch marks. You may need 1-2 sessions to fade the redness.
White or faded stretchmarks can be treated with the ACUPULSE CO2 fractional laser. This laser delivers focused microscopic columns of light energy deeply into the skin while leaving skin unaffected in between these microchannels. Regeneration of collagen and elastin occurs with healing of these channels, improving the elasticity and skin texture to blend with surrounding skin. Acupulse treatments for stretchmarks are performed by the doctors and dermal therapists at Geelong Veins Skin & Laser. You may require between 3-6 sessions spaced 4-8 weeks apart.
How many treatments are needed?
This will vary depending on the level of improvement required, the type of stretch mark, the type of laser used, and the response of an individuals skin. Typically 4-8 treatments are needed spaced about 6 weeks apart.
What are the costs?
Cost depends on the treatment recommended. Initial assessment with dermal clinician is complimentary, costs of treating stretchmarks start at $110 per session depending on the modality of treatment chosen.
Meet our Beauty/Dermal Therapist – Charlotte Woolfe
Charlotte is a trained beauty therapist and is currently undertaking her degree in Dermal Therapy at Victoria University. She offers brow and lash tinting, and brow shaping treatments with a keen eye for symmetry and beauty. Charlotte can treat difficult hair problems that are unsuitable for laser hair removal with electrolysis, including fair hair and facial areas. As a trained laser therapist Charlotte also performs laser hair removal for all hair areas. Charlotte has a special interest in assessing skin conditions and preparing an individualised plan for clients to achieve their skin needs and resolve skin problems including acne, scarring, stretchmarks and signs of ageing. Treatments you can book with Charlotte include facials, microdermabrasion, skin needling, BBL (Broad Band Light) and photorejuvenation.
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