Stretch marks, which are scars on the skin, characterized by long depressed red or white markings, can often make a person feel self conscious. Often found on the stomach, thighs, arms, buttocks, or breasts, stretch marks can be induced by sudden weight gain, rapid growth spurt, pregnancy, puberty, bodybuilding, or the use of certain medication. Stretch marks can affect both men and women and can occur at any age. While stretch marks are a very common condition, patients may feel distressed about the appearance of these marks on the surface of the skin. When looking for a solution, laser treatment has become the gold standard for stretch mark removal.
Laser skin resurfacing treatments have become number one mechanism for the elimination of stretch marks. When applied to the affected area, lasers emit a wavelength of light that heats the skin, triggering the production of new collagen and elastin, which in turn eliminates the scar tissue responsible for the appearance of stretch marks. Dr. Green utilizes several different types of lasers to effectively remove these stretch marks. With a combination of VBeam laser, eMatrix, and Fraxel laser, these unwanted stretch marks can be removed in patients with all skin types.
Dr. Michele Green is an expert in improving the appearance of stretch marks. With over 25 years of experience in cosmetic dermatology, in her private NYC Upper East Side office, she has been consistently voted as one of the best dermatologists in New York. Dr. Green is an expert in Botox, Juvederm injections, microneedling, PRP, CoolSculpting, chemical peels, Thermage, and other laser treatments. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your stretch marks, Dr. Green is here to help improve their appearance with little or no downtime.
What are Stretch Marks?
Stretch Marks, also known as striae distensae or striae atrophicus are scars caused by a tear in the collagen and elastin fiber of the skin. Changes in hormone levels, genetics, growth spurts, pregnancy and weight gain or weight loss, can all cause stretch marks. The initial onset of stretch marks usually appears as a red, pink, or purplish raised lines across the skin.
Stretch marks form in the dermis, the layer of the skin containing the connective tissue. A stretch mark is a type of scar, caused when the skin stretches too quickly, and causes the collagen and elastin, which support the skin to rupture. As the skin heals, the color fades and leaves a white or silver line in the previously red line. This fading of the stretch mark’s color, from red to white, usually occurs within six to twelve months. It is recommended that stretch mark treatment begin at the initial onset, when the likelihood of successful stretch mark removal is much higher. It is much easier to remove the red stretch marks with laser treatments, than the later stage of scarring or white stretch marks.
Stretch Mark Removal: Syneron Candela (photo after two treatments)
What are the risk factors for developing stretch marks?
There are many potential risk factors that can lead to the development of stretch marks, many of which are not easily preventable. Stretch marks most commonly develop when your body is going through changes such as puberty, growth spurts, weight gain or loss, and pregnancy. Genetics can also play a role in whether or not you develop stretch marks at a given time and whether they fade on their own. More specifically, risk factors include the following:
- Puberty – As teenagers go through puberty, their bodies go through many transformations. Sudden, or rapid growth spurts can lead to the formation of stretch marks as well as the development of secondary sex characteristics, such as breasts for teenage women. During puberty, stretch marks most commonly appear on the back, hips, and knees.
- Rapid Weight gain – Gaining weight quickly in a short amount of time can lead to stretch marks on the skin, most commonly on the stomach, buttocks, thighs, and under the arms.
- Obesity – Gaining a significant amount of weight such that a patient becomes obese (meaning you have a body mass index, or BMI, of over 30) is also a risk factor for the development of stretch marks. The risk for developing stretch marks as a result of obesity is higher if the weight is gained very quickly.
- Pregnancy – The body goes through many significant changes during pregnancy, which can be a risk factor for developing stretch marks. Hormones levels are in flux, which can decrease skin elasticity, while at the same time, the skin on the abdomen is stretching along with the growing fetus. As such, stretch marks most commonly occur on the stomach and breasts but can also develop on the thighs, underarm, and buttocks depending on where pregnancy weight is carried.
- Oral Steroid use – Some oral steroids, also known as corticosteroids, can decrease the elasticity of the skin. As a result, the skin is less able to stretch without rupturing and causing stretch marks to appear.
- Bodybuilding – Bodybuilding is a practice in which a person gains muscle, typically in a short amount of time. A result of gaining muscle, or fat, in a short time period can be stretch marks where the elastin in the skin cannot keep up with the rapid growth.
- Genetics – There is a strong genetic component to the development of stretch marks. Your family history can be an indication of whether stretch marks will develop and whether or not they will fade on their own.
- Ethnicity – patients with lighter skin types are more likely to develop stretch marks than individuals with darker skin tones.
What is the appearance of stretch marks?
Initial appearance: Stretch marks originally appear as red bands, stripes, or lines. They generally appear when the skin is rapidly growing or stretching. Typically, stretch marks appear as parallel streaks of red, thin, shiny skin. These stretch marks most commonly appear on the breasts, arms, hips, thighs, buttocks, flanks, and abdomen.
Later appearance: Stretch marks later appear as white linear scars and replace the red parallel lines. The appearance of stretch marks at this later stage is like long depressed scars with a different texture from that of normal skin.
Where do stretch marks typically appear on the skin?
- Lower back
Dr. Green utilizes the best stretch mark removal treatments in her NYC private office to remove the appearance of these striae in all skin types.
Can you get rid of stretch marks with laser?
Many patients ask, can stretch marks be removed by laser, and the answer is yes. Stretch marks have always been very difficult to treat and one of the areas in dermatology where lasers for stretch mark treatments have made huge advances. The V-Beam Laser coupled with the Fraxel or eMatrix laser, is the gold standard to remove stretch marks. Dr. Michele Green’s uses the best laser treatments for stretch mark removal in her private NYC office. Based on your skin type, Dr. Green will assess which combination of lasers and treatments will be best to use for your stretch mark treatment. In addition, she will advise you on the best skincare to use, skin lightening lotions and serums to use in combination with your laser treatment to effect the best cosmetic results. There are different treatment options for stretch mark removal, based on the type of stretch marks, the color, and your skin type.
How does laser stretch mark removal work?
Laser treatment is extremely effective in treating a variety of conditions, including the appearance of stretch marks. There are two general types of laser treatments: ablative treatments, which creates micro-injuries on surface of the skin, and non-ablative treatment, in which beams of light target the inner layer of the skin. During treatment, Dr. Green will apply the laser to the area of the skin in which stretch marks are visible. The laser releases pulses of light which heat the layer of skin to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. These proteins help to destroy the scar tissue and produce smooth, mark-free skin. For this reason, laser treatment is sometimes also referred to as laser skin resurfacing.
Dr. Green employs the use of several different types of laser in her office to target stretch marks in their different phases. For newer stretch marks, which are still in the phase of being red or pink, Dr. Green typically employs the VBeam laser. For older stretch marks that have faded to being white, depressed scars, Dr. Green may use the Fraxel laser or the eMatrix laser. The eMatrix laser is advantageous because it is safe for all skin types.
VBeam for stretch mark removal – 5 months
VBeam Laser and Stretch Mark Removal
The VBeam laser is a pulsed dye laser which utilizes cutting edge laser technology, to deliver a concentrated beam of light energy to the stretch marks. It is the best laser to use on these earliest appearing, red and violaceous, stretch marks. The thermal energy reaches the target areas of redness in the blood vessels and destroys them. The VBeam laser is the gold standard for treating these red stretch marks. The intense light energy generated by the VBeam, in terms of heat, selectively eliminates the redness in the stretch marks while leaving the surrounding skin unaffected
There are different settings on the V-Beam laser which Dr. Green will adjust based on your skin type, the location of your stretch marks, and the color of your stretch marks. Some stretch marks require higher energy settings to remove them and may lead to bruising in the treated area with some minimal cosmetic downtime. The V-beam laser technology is equipped with cryogen, a cooling agent, which minimizes any discomfort. For those patients more sensitive, a topical numbing cream can be applied to the treatment area before the pulsed dye laser treatment.
A single session of VBeam for stretch mark removal treatment typically lasts fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on the size and location of the stretch marks. Strict sun avoidance and sunscreen use is required before and after treatment with the pulsed dye laser, as the VBeam laser should not be done on tanned skin. Patients should avoid the sun after treatment until the treated area heals. In addition, lotions and moisturizes should be used daily after the VBeam treatment. In general, there are no side effects associated with VBeam therapy and patients can return to their daily activities immediately following the laser treatment. It typically takes 4 to 6 sessions of treatment of stretch marks with the pulsed dye laser to restore new skin cells and produce healthy skin by generating new collagen production.
Fraxel Laser and Stretch Mark Removal
The Fraxel laser is an FDA approved laser therapy designed for scars, hyperpigmentation, acne marks, sun spots, leg veins, and stretch marks. Fraxel laser is an FDA laser treatment which is a fractional laser, treating only a fraction of the skin at a time. The Fraxel laser makes microscopic cuts in the skin, leaving the surrounding tissue intact, and stimulating new collagen production. Fractional Co2 laser works best in treating the older white stretch mark scars. This remarkable resurfacing laser works by heating the skin and smoothing out the skin, treating these stretch marks and leaving behind new, fresh, skin cells.
Dr. Green utilizes both the Fraxel laser and the VBeam laser together, treating the redness with the VBeam, and resurfacing the skin with the Fraxel. The 1550 wavelength of the Fraxel laser is best utilized to perform stretch mark removal and promote new collagen growth. The Fraxel laser is most commonly used for fractionated skin resurfacing of the face, but it is equally successful in treating surgical scars, acne scars, and stretch marks. It generally takes between 4 and 6 treatments, one month apart, to significantly improve the appearance of your stretch marks and rejuvenate your skin, producing new healthy skin cells.
One of the wonderful things about the VBeam laser and the Fraxel laser is that there is almost no downtime involved. Gentle moisturizers and lotions should be used after the laser treatment, and sunscreens should be used after the treatment. The Fraxel, like any resurfacing laser, should not be used on tanned skin and strict sun avoidance on the treated area is needed for two weeks prior and after laser treatment.
eMatrix Laser treatments for Stretch Mark Removal
The eMatrix laser is an exceptional effective treatment for stretch mark removal. eMatrix is a non-ablative laser which utilizes radiofrequency to deliver heat to the dermis and stimulate new collagen. As more collagen is formed within the dermal layer, the texture of the skin becomes smoother and the appearance of the stretch marks are diminished. The heat from the eMatrix breaks up the scar tissue of the stretch marks to perform stretch mark removal. The eMatrix works by restoring healthy skin tone and appearance. This is why the eMatrix is so successful in treating all types of scars, including surgical scars, and acne scars.
Stretch marks are, in effect, scars on the skin and the eMatrix is the only sublative technology proven to reduce stretch marks and acne scars of all skin types. One of the most important advantages of the eMatrix laser is that it is a “color blind” laser and patients of all skin types can have their stretch marks removed with this laser treatment, without worrying about the side effects of hyperpigmentation. The eMatrix is in effect, a collagen-building laser, which leads to dermal remodeling, and rejuvenated skin.
What are other types of stretch mark removal treatment?
Laser stretch mark treatment is extremely effective and often considered the gold standard treatment for stretch mark removal. It is not the only stretch removal option, however, and Dr. Green performs a variety of different treatments. When you have your initial consultation appointment with Dr. Green, the two of you will determine the treatment or series of treatments that will be most effective for your specific needs.
Sculptra injections have become a new way to treat older, white stretch mark scars. Sculptra injections involve stretch mark removal by a dermal filler, composed of Poly-L-Lactic Acid, directly into these scars. The skin stretches and new collagen is produced from the injections of Sculptra. It typically takes 3 treatments spaced one month apart to complete the stretch mark removal process. Dr. Green has been using Sculptra injections to treat acne scars with the best results and utilizes this same process for successful stretch mark treatment.
Carboxytherapy for Stretch Mark Treatment
Carboxytherapy is carbon dioxide injected into the subcutaneous tissue using a 30g needle. It works by destroying the fat cells in the treated area and dilating the blood vessels. The dilation of the blood vessels causes more blood flow to skin tissues and cells. The increased oxygen to the skin tissue helps repair the skin’s collagen matrix which results in firmer, healthier looking skin. Carboxytherapy is safe and effective with no restrictions pre and post treatment. It is used both to treat stretch marks and cellulite.
Microneedling for Stretch Mark Removal
Microneedling is also another modality used to treat stretch marks. Microneedling uses tiny needles which cause microscopic punctures in the skin. As the skin heals, new collagen is formed which repairs the damaged collagen fibers and fills in the lines caused by the stretch marks. After the treatment you will see improvement in the depth and texture of the stretch mark. Microneedling promotes new collagen growth through collagen injection therapy. Typically, it can take at least 3 treatments with microneedling to improve the appearance and tone of your stretch marks. The microneedling wand has fine needles which can adjust the depth of the needles for the anatomic are the body which needs treatment.
Microdermabrasion and Stretch Mark Treatment
Microdermabrasion has been used in past years to treat stretch marks. It is a painless procedure which stimulates the epidermis to stimulate and tighten the skin to produce new collagen. Microdermabrasion is much less successful in stretch mark removal as the other newer laser treatments.
Pregnancy and Stretch Marks
Pregnancy is one of those times when the body changes, and the skin stretches and grows, with many hormonal changes. Stretch marks in pregnancy typically appear on the abdomen, flanks, and breasts. The skin stretching cannot be controlled as you gain weight and your skin continues to stretch. The best tactic is to try to gain weight at a slow and controlled pace over the course of your pregnancy, and moisturize the areas as well. After giving birth, if you are not breast feeding, you can have stretch mark removal with laser treatment. If is best to have the stretch marks treated as soon as possible, when they are new and red in appearance.
Surgery after Pregnancy
Some patients are unhappy with their abdominal stretch marks, as well as the skin laxity in the abdomen after pregnancy and opt for a tummy tuck. This type of plastic surgery involves removing the extra skin and tightening up the abdominal muscles surgically. This invasive surgical procedure requires a board certified plastic surgeon under general anesthesia with a significant amount of downtime.
What is the cost of laser stretch mark removal in NYC?
When patients ask, how much does laser stretch mark removal cost, the answer is: it depends. The cost of stretch mark treatment is contingent on the number of laser treatments needed and the appearance and size of your stretch marks. Generally speaking, stretch mark removal is not an immediate process, and takes several laser treatments spaced one month apart, to allow the skin to heal and new collagen to form. There also is a difference in treating new stretch marks versus older stretch marks. Older stretch marks require more laser treatments and are generally more difficult to remove.
Does insurance cover laser stretch mark removal?
If you are wondering whether or not insurance covers laser stretch mark removal, it is best to contact your insurance company. Each insurance company and insurance plan can have different policies about laser treatment for stretch marks, however, typically insurance does not cover stretch mark skin treatment, as it is generally considered a cosmetic procedure.
Does laser stretch mark removal hurt?
There can be some minor discomfort associated with laser treatment for stretch mark removal but no pain. Dr. Green suggests applying a topical numbing cream for one hour before your laser treatment to minimize any discomfort that you might experience.
Does laser stretch mark removal work on dark skin?
Yes, laser stretch mark removal is very effective for dark skin types. For darker skin tones, radiofrequency laser is preferred such as the eMatrix laser. eMatrix can be used with every skin type, without the risk of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). The eMatrix laser is able to use enough energy to treat these white stretch marks, without concern for these side effects. For red stretch marks, the VBeam laser is able to effectively treat patients with darker skin tones, such as those with Asian, Hispanic, and Mediterranean skin. Both types of stretch marks are able to be treated safely and effectively with the correct laser for your skin tone.
Can laser treatment remove old stretch marks?
Yes, laser treatment is effective at removing old white stretch marks. However, it is easier to remove red stretch marks, which are new. White stretch marks are ones that are older and have become similar to a scar on the skin. Both Fraxel laser and eMatrix laser can treat these white stretch marks on the skin.
How many sessions for laser stretch mark removal?
While the number of treatments varies from person to person, generally it takes 4 to 6 treatments to improve the overall texture and appearance of stretch marks. Depending on the size and color of the stretch marks, it can take even more treatments. When you have your consultation with Dr. Green, she will be able to determine the treatment plan suited to your specific needs.
How far apart should the laser stretch mark treatments be spaced?
When it comes to laser treatment of stretch marks, multiple treatments are typically required. Most patients will need between 4 and 6 treatments though it may be more or less depending on the size and scope of the treatment area. Generally, you should have four weeks in between each treatment of the V-Beam, Fraxel, or eMatrix laser.
How long does the stretch mark procedure take to perform?
The amount of time necessary for the treatment varies depending on whether or not patients opt to use a topical numbing cream to reduce discomfort. If topical numbing is required, an hour of numbing time is generally needed. The procedure itself takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes depending on the size, depth, color, and location of the stretch marks. As such, it is best to plan for between 30 and 90 minutes of time spent in Dr. Green’s office for the procedure.
Can lasers remove stretch marks permanently?
Laser stretch mark removal treatment typically requires 4-6 treatments for the best results. Following those 4-6 treatment sessions, the effects of the laser treatment are typically very long lasting, provided you continue to care for your skin. Fluctuations in body weight or other significant body changes, such as pregnancy, do have the potential to lead to the creation of new stretch marks.
What is necessary to pre-and post-treatment for stretch mark removal?
Laser treatments can work by targeting pigmentation in the skin and for that reason, it is important not to tan the area of skin to be treated with the laser. Excessive sun or tanning bed exposure can increase the risk of developing a laser burn. Following the treatment, you should also avoid the sun and use sunblock on the treated area.
What is the aftercare for stretch mark laser treatment?
While laser treatment for stretch marks is very long lasting, results are best maintained if you take care of your skin and practice strict sun avoidance. It is important to use sunblock and moisturizer or lotions to the area treated with stretch marks.
How old do you have to be to get laser stretch mark removal?
Stretch marks can occur at any age and can often affect young people as they go through puberty. For that reason, younger patients may wonder how old you have to be to get laser stretch mark removal. Patients must be 18 years or older to receive treatment or under the age of 18 but with parental consent.
Receiving treatment from a dermatologist vs. a medspa
Patients who are interested in receiving laser stretch mark removal treatment may wonder about where to go to receive treatment. The procedure is available both at a dermatology office and at a medspa, however, it is important to understand the difference between these two types of institutions. While treatment from a medspa may be less expensive, you will not be receiving treatment from a board-certified healthcare professional. The risk of side effects from treatment are greater if you do not receive treatment from a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green.
What Home Remedies Exist to treat Stretch Marks?
There are many different home remedies, stretch mark creams, and over the counter lotions and moisturizers for stretch mark removal. The following are some popular stretch mark creams:
- Retinols are Vitamin A used creams which increase skin cell turnover.
- Cocoa Butter and Coconut oil to moisturize the skin.
- Sugar compounded with oil to exfoliate the skin.
- Aloe Vera moisturizer
- Hyaluronic Acid is a wonderful source of collagen and helps with stretch mark removal.
While these home remedies have been said to help, the most successful stretch mark removal options are with these advanced laser treatments.
Does laser stretch mark removal cause cancer?
Laser stretch mark removal treatment is a very safe and effective procedure that has not been linked to any incidence of cancer. Receiving laser treatment is not a risk factor for developing cancer nor does it cause cancer.
Does laser stretch mark removal work?
Yes, laser stretch mark removal works extremely well, provided the best laser technology is used. Dr. Green will evaluate the type of stretch marks that you have and give you an honest assessment of treatment. There are times, microneedling or Sculptra injections need to be combined with laser stretch mark removal to obtain the best cosmetic result. Fraxel laser, eMatrix laser, microneedling, and Sculptra injections all stimulate new collagen growth, and promote new healthier skin to replace the stretch marks.
How effective is stretch mark laser removal?
Laser stretch mark removal is extremely safe and a very effective treatment. Laser treatment can be used on all skin types to eliminate the appearance stretch marks for a very long time. However, like any other cosmetic treatment, it is important to consult an expert in this area, google, and research the best practices and experience of the physician.
Who is a good candidate for stretch mark removal?
What makes someone a good candidate for stretch mark removal? An ideal candidate for undergoing the process of stretch mark removal should have stretch marks that are visible and an interest in diminishing their appearance. Additionally, good candidates for stretch mark removal should be at or near their goal weight and able to maintain that weight (gaining and losing weight can contribute to the reappearance of stretch marks). It is also important that someone pursuing stretch mark removal treatment is not planning on having children in the future. If you’re looking for a non-invasive treatment method for stretch mark removal and meet the aforementioned criteria, Dr. Green may have the solution for you. During your consultation with Dr. Green, you will have the opportunity to discuss the possible treatment options for stretch mark removal and which option is best suited to your situation.
How do I get started with laser stretch mark removal?
To learn more about your options for stretch mark removal please call 212-535-3088 to set up a consultation or contact us online today. Dr. Michele S. Green is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City and specializes in using the most cutting edge lasers and procedures for stretch mark removal. With over 25 years of experience in cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Green will help give you the best cosmetic treatment results.