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Stretchmarks

Stretchmarks are a very common problem for many women and men. Whilst they are harmless most people regard them as unsightly. Stretchmarks can be a source of great embarrassment as they often develop on readily visible areas and they are very difficult to camouflage. They are a type of scarring in the skin and are difficult to treat but newer laser and needling treatments offer great hope.

About the condition

Recent stretchmarks appear as flat or slightly raised lines in the skin that are pink or red in colour and may be itchy. As stretchmarks mature they tend to become longer and purple, then over time become white and depressed below the surface of the skin. Stretchmarks occur as a result of a breakdown in the structures that provide the skin with strength and elasticity and under a microscope resemble scar tissue.

The exact reason some people get stretchmarks and others don’t is unknown, but hormonal factors combined with lateral stretch of tissues when body areas increase in size is important. They are much more frequent in women and affect a high percentage of pregnant women. Obesity and rapid weight gains like in bodybuilders are related. Some develop them in adolescence as part of normal growth spurts whilst others on certain medications like steroids have a higher incidence.

The commonest areas for stretchmarks are the thighs, buttocks, breasts and upper arms in women and outer thighs and lower back in men. With pregnancy abdominal stretchmarks are common especially with larger babies and twins.

Stretchmarks - About the condition

Treatment options

Many treatments have been tried over the years and there are a lot of myths surrounding treating and preventing stretchmarks. No matter what treatment approach is used the earlier the treatment the better the results and hence red stretchmarks respond better than white stretchmarks.

  • Topical creams: Centella Asiatica has been shown to help prevent stretchmarks and can be used in pregnancy.
  • Prescription creams: Vitamin A (retinoic acid) has been shown to help if used daily for 6 months but cannot be used if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Microdermabrasion: For very superficial stretchmarks Microdermabrasion can stimulate collagen to have some benefit.
  • Laser: In red stretchmarks a Vascular laser can help as the laser targets the red blood vessels in and around the stretchmarks. In white stretchmarks, if they are not severe or you have dark skin, then the REVLITE laser is usually tried first. The FRAXEL laser gives faster results but is also more expensive and we use this for more severe stretchmarks.
  • Skin Needling: The INFINI fractional microneedling and radiofrequency device is the treatment of choice for stretchmarks in darker skin types and tanned skin.

FAQs

Before and after

Stretchmarks-Before-After-1
Stretchmarks-Before-After-2

Before and after images are presented purely as a reference point of the results that can be achieved. Everyone is unique and outcomes will vary and realistic expectations need to be discussed on a case by case basis.

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