Striae, commonly known as stretch marks, are the sixth type of scarring. They appear when the skin is rapidly stretched in a short amount of time, such as growth spurts or pregnancy. The abrupt change causes the collagen and elastin that supports the skin to rupture. The body then proceeds to fill in these sudden gaps with scar tissue. Stretch marks can also appear when the skin is under tension, such as near a joint during the healing process. Multiple breaks between the connecting skin tissue causes a series of these wounds, and they may appear red, purple, or dark brown when new. Fluctuating hormone levels can play a role in their formation as well. Those who have a family history of stretch mark development also have a higher risk of stretch mark development. Common locations for these include the abdomen, thighs, upper arms, buttocks, and lower back. Scar Removal can lighten over time, and it is possible for these stretch marks to be raised or sunken a bit on the surface of the skin. Stretch marks tend to form in areas where fat is commonly distributed, and are most commonly associated with pregnancy, rapid weight gain/loss, and growth spurts during puberty. Those with certain medical conditions such as Cushing’s Disease and Marfan Syndrome can also be more susceptible to stretch marks. Stretch marks can also develop from those who have excellent workout regimes that result in fast muscle growth! Scars and stretch marks become more difficult to treat the older they are. Getting them treated quickly and early allows for the best chances of obtaining the best results.
Who is a Candidate?
For patients who have an unsightly scar that they don’t want, there are many treatment options available. Acne scars in particular are difficult cosmetic conditions to treat, and these scars will never disappear on their own even when acne is under control and breakouts no longer appear. A myriad of research has been conducted on treatment options for scar removal and stretch mark reduction. As you may have noticed, there is no shortage of creams, lotions, and gels available that say they can treat these conditions. While some of these products can help, no single product is universal, and what is effective for one person may not yield the same results for another.
Treatments need to be started early. Time is crucial when it comes to scar/stretch mark treatment, and the earlier they begin to be treated, the better and more efficient the results will be when they finally manifest.
These products need to be applied every day for numerous weeks. Even if the product does work, results will take a very long time of consistent use before they begin to appear – often for months at a time.
Some body types are more prone to different scar appearances. For instance, those of African American descent are more likely to form hypertrophic scars, and are also more susceptible to the formation of keloids. Individuals with fair skin are more likely to have differently colored scars that stand out when compared to those with darker complexions. Wounds that are larger and deeper in size require a longer healing process, which in turn makes a higher opportunity for scarring. Larger incisions are more prone to movement stress. This causes the healing process to require more time to complete, and the scar may be more noticeable due to the constant movement interrupting the process. Smoking not only slows down the healing process, but also increases the risk of larger scars. Frequent consumption of alcohol while the wound is healing dehydrates the body and skin. Those who are overweight are also at risk for larger scars, as the fat underneath the skin can impede the skin’s ability to close the wound tightly and seamlessly.
Stretch Marks Treatments
Stretch Mark Treatment are one of the most difficult cosmetic conditions to treat. Generally, the older a scar is, the tougher it is to get rid of. Because scar development is a natural bodily function, there is no way to stop a scar completely; however, their formation can be limited in the beginning stages as the body heals. Stretch marks in particular are rather tricky to treat. These become a lot more difficult to treat later on, so it is advised to get these treated as soon as possible for the best chances of obtaining the best-looking results.
Microdermabrasion: This treatment uses an abrasive surface to gently sand away the thick outer layers of skin. The skin then begins to form new tissue that smoothens out the treated area and provides a more uniform appearance. This is an option for small scars on the face that aren’t very deep. In addition, microdermabrasion can be used to treat fine lines wrinkles, age spots, sun damage, and acne as well. Microdermabrasion usually does not require anesthesia or numbing agents.
Laser Skin Resurfacing: lasers help break up the fibroblasts on raised scars in order to make them flatter and lay more evenly with the skin. These are aimed directly at the scars so that surrounding skin is not affected. Collagen is stimulated and then grows to remodel the area. The new repair of the fibers creates a smoother appearance, and a visible reduction in the look of the scar and stretch marks. They can also increase the ability to move in instances where a scar may limit movement. Treatments last approximately 30 minutes. Multiple treatments are often required depending on the age and size of the scar/stretch marks. Redness, tenderness, and some swelling is common, and will clear up on its own within 1-3 days. Some slight bruising is possible as well, and this will also clear up on its own within 3-10 days. While lasers can be used to treat almost all types of scars, patients with conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and cystic acne may not be the best candidates for lasers, and will require other methods.
Microneedling: (Collagen induction therapy) – Microneedling can be an effective treatment for scars that are lower in the skin, such as acne scars and stretch marks. Microneedling breaks up the collagen on the existing scar, and stimulates new collagen growth in the affected areas in order to add more volume and a smoother consistency in the skin. This treatment is widely used for patients who are prone to hyperpigmentation. In addition, microneedling also has the benefit of being able to treat fine lines and provide overall rejuvenation of the skin on the face.
Chemical Peels: Chemical peels remove the top layer of skin in order to regenerate new tissue. This treatment is best for surface level scars and scars that aren’t very large in size. In addition to improving the appearance of these surface level scars, it also reduces the appearance of sun damage, color irregularities, and can provide overall brightening of the face. When performed correctly, the side effects from most of these treatments are minor and temporary. After a treatment, you can expect redness and swelling, which disappears and fades in a few hours to a couple days at most.
Fibroblast: Plasma fibroblast treatment may sound like a made-up futuristic invention from the latest science-fiction franchise, but it is one of the newest anti-aging procedures available today. By utilizing the latest in modern beauty business technology, we can easily take care of any loose skin, acne scars, wrinkles, stretch marks, and pigmentation of the skin, all in one convenient, noninvasive treatment. This procedure stimulates cell renewal from the inside out and shows improvement of acne scars, creating smoother skin in just 2 to 3 sessions.
*Remember – scars & stretch marks cannot be 100% removed, no matter where you go or what method you use, as they are a natural process of the body. These treatments are intended to improve the appearance of the scar, not eliminate it completely.
Frequently Asked Questions
What things should I avoid before treatment?
Sun exposure should be limited as much as possible before a treatment. No tanning should be done at least 2 weeks prior, and sunscreen with SPF30 or higher should be used every day. Let your doctor know about any medications you are taking or conditions you have as well before your treatment.
Smoking not only slows down the healing process, but also increases the risk of larger scars. Frequent consumption of alcohol and high amounts of caffeine while the wound is healing dehydrates the body and skin, and should both be avoided in the interim.
When can I expect results?
Because these treatment methods require breaking up the old scar and the body must develop new collagen in its place, results will continue to improve over 3-6 months usually. This does vary, however, depending on the treatments used and your body’s own natural healing process. Multiple treatments may be required as well, which can affect the timeframe. Your doctor will be able to provide you with a better timeframe of when you can expect to see results after your treatment regimen has been completed in full.
How do I take care of new scars until my appointment?
Hydration – Proper hydration is especially important while a scar is healing. Scars should be kept well moisturized and well hydrated. It is a misconception that scars should be aired out to dry. This not only causes scabbing which takes even longer to heal, but can potentially cause even MORE scarring.
Nutrition – Having a balanced diet with adequate protein intake is important. Protein makes up the building blocks of healing skin, and facilitates the healing process. Additionally, excess body fat in those who are overweight can impede the skin’s ability to close the wound seamlessly. A healthy body weight ensures that the body is able to perform the healing process more efficiently. Sun exposure – UV radiation from the sun is bad for the skin, and in the case of scarring, can make them appear darker and allow more discoloration. Sunscreen with at least SPF30 or above helps limit the discoloration and protects against the radiation from the sun. Cleanliness – any bandages or wrappings that are used in the area need to be kept clean. The wound should be properly washed and maintained in order to wash out any germs and debris. Hydrogen peroxide should be avoided, as this damages the skin even further. Instead, fresh wounds should be cleaned using soap and water. Stitches are recommended for deeper scars, as this helps the skin heal more smoothly and minimizes the appearance of the scar.
What about home remedies for scar/stretch mark reduction?
There are many common home remedies that are said to help with reducing the appearance of scarring and stretch marks, such as aloe vera, honey, olive oil, and cocoa butter just to name a few. Some of these remedies do help soften and exfoliate the skin, and don’t do any further harm. However, no studies have proven these treatments to be effective in reducing the appearance of scars. The treatments offered by a medical professional have research and evidence to prove their effectiveness in reducing the visibility of scarring & stretch marks.