Stretch marks appear when the skin stretches quicker than it can adjust, resulting in streaks of collagen and elastin appearing. While not a scar, a stretch mark is similar to a scar as it is the same tissue type. Stretch mark treatments are similar to those we use for scars to reduce the visual impact.
Stretch marks naturally fade with time, but not all stretch marks are created equal, with some significantly more severe than others. Treatment can make a dramatic difference in the appearance of stretch marks, especially with repeated treatments.
Individual responses to stretch mark treatments differ, sometimes considerably. Treatment success depends on the location, colouring, vascularity and age of the stretch mark. We use a different approach to fresh versus mature stretch marks.
Why do I have stretch marks?
Some people are more prone to stretch marks than others. If people in your family developed stretch marks, you likely will too. The leading causes of stretch marks are growth spurts at puberty, pregnancy, rapid weight gain, or weight training with rapid muscle growth.
Corticosteroid use can also result in thinning skin and stretch marks, for example, in Cushing’s disease or Marfan syndrome.
What do stretch marks look like?
Stretch marks appear as red, pink, purple, red-brown or darker brown distinctly-shaped marks on the skin. The marks can be like tyre skids across the skin, raised scars, or little rivers and streams, a topical map of white or pink lines etched into the surface.
When they first appear, marks may feel bumpy or lumpy, but mature stretch marks may feel like a depression in the skin. Stretch marks can also turn white over time, which depending on your skin type can take the appearance of fading or of becoming a little more prominent.
Stretch marks are a permanent mark on the skin; however, treatment can reduce their appearance considerably.
Treating stretch marks
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to stretch mark treatments. We’ll examine your skin and provide you with an individual treatment plan.
Treating early stretch marks is different from addressing mature stretch marks. Early intervention can lessen the marks’ impact, but the steps taken may differ to how we approach mature stretch marks. Each stretch mark is unique; thus, we may use a combination treatment approach.
Anti-stretch mark treatments
- Laser treatments
- Chemical peels
- Radiofrequency treatment
- Ultrasonic treatments
- PRP injections
- Topical treatments
How stretch mark treatments work
Your dermatologist will likely use more than one treatment strategy on your skin, for example, a combination of radiofrequency (which targets deeper tissue) with a laser (to equalise the stretch mark with surrounding skin and remove the top layer).
Treatment strategies for stretch marks vary and may include remodelling collagen to removing several layers of cells to modify colour and texture. There are many ways to achieve smoother, less prominent stretch marks.
Research shows that topical ointments may be useful early on, but will have no impact once the stretch mark is mature. We tend to use a combination of laser and radiofrequency on fresh, pink stretch marks, with the laser constricting blood vessels to reduce the pinky colour to skin colour. The radiofrequency treatment can be applied via heat energy or micro-needling, to stimulate new collagen production deep in the mark.
Fresh, pink stretch marks will require multiple treatments, typically about six at 4-6-week intervals. The treatment schedule will depend heavily on the stretch marks’ severity.
Older, white stretch marks take a bit more effort to achieve satisfying fading. We use the same devices but in a slightly different way. We don’t target the laser at the skin’s surface, but just underneath, to stimulate collagen production. We also use a different laser for this task, the Fraxel 1550.
What to expect after stretch mark treatments
With mature stretch mark treatments, you can expect some temporary redness and minor swelling, while early treatments may only include massaging in topical creams or lotions.
Stretch mark treatments tend to be low risk, though every treatment comes with risks and benefits. Your dermatologist will assess your risk factors and ensure your treatments will get you the best outcome with the least risk.
Will I need to have the stretch marks retreated?
Once we treat your stretch marks, you won’t need to have them retreated unless you develop new stretch marks. If you suspect more stretch marks are on the cards for you (for example, future pregnancies or quick muscle gain), it is worth discussing prevention strategies and early stretch mark treatments with your dermatologist.
Where to get the best stretch mark treatments in Melbourne
At ENRICH Clinic in Melbourne, we tailor your stretch mark treatments to your stretch marks, skin type and overall health to get optimal results.
We’ve got state-of-the-art technology and very experienced practitioners, and you can expect a visible difference in the appearance of your stretch marks after treatment. How significant this improvement varies, but know you’re in the very best hands in the business.
Contact us for a consultation.