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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 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. For this reason, Dr. Michele Green encourages patients to consult with her for the best stretch mark removal treatment in her NYC private office at the first sign of their appearance.

What Causes Stretch marks to form?

  • Puberty
  • Rapid Weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Oral Steroid use
  • Body Building
  • Ethnicity – patients with lighter skin types are more likely to develop stretch marks than individuals with darker skin tones.
Source: Syneron Candela

Stretch Mark Removal: Syneron Candela (photo after two treatments)

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?

  • Breasts
  • Arms
  • Hips
  • Thighs
  • Buttocks
  • Flanks
  • Abdomen
  • 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.

Laser Stretch Mark Removal

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.

V-Beam Laser and Stretch Mark Removal

The V-Beam 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 V-Beam laser is the gold standard for treating these red stretch marks.  The intense light energy generated by the V-Beam, in terms of heat, selectively eliminates the redness in the stretch marks while leaving the surrounding skin unaffected

stretch marks flank 2 syneron candela

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 require 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 V-Beam 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 V-Beam 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 V-Beam treatment.  In general, there are no side effects associated with V-Beam 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.  Fraxel laser works for both new, red stretch marks, and 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 V-Beam laser together, treating the redness with the V-Beam, and resurfacing the skin with the Fraxel.  The 1550 wavelength of the Fraxel Duo is what it utilized to perform stretch mark removal.  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 V-Beam 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 after laser treatment.         

eMatrix Laser treatments for Stretch Mark Removal

The eMatrix laser is an exceptional effective treatment for stretch mark removal.  eMatix is a non-ablative laser which utilizes radiofrequency to deliver heat to the dermis and stimulate new collagen.  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.

Sculptra Injections

Sculptra injections have become a new way to treat older, white stretch mark scars.  Sculptra injections involve stretch mark removal by injecting Poly-L-Lactic Acid 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.

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.  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.

stretch marks front syneron candela

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 stretch mark removal in NYC?

The cost of stretch mark treatment depends 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.

How many treatments do you need to remove the stretch marks?

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.

How far apart should the stretch mark removal treatments be spaced?

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?

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.

What is necessary to pre-and post- treatment for stretch mark removal?

It is important not to tan the area of skin to be treated with the laser as you may have a burn from the laser treatment.  You should also avoid the sun and use sunblock on the treated area.

What is the aftercare for stretch mark treatment?

It is important to use sunblock and moisturizer or lotions to the area treated with stretch marks.

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.

To learn more about your options for stretch mark removal  please contact us online today or call 212-535-3088. Dr. Michele S. Green, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City specializes in uses the best cutting edge lasers and procedures for stretch mark removal.

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