No one wants to have stretch marks on their skin and yet, it affects people of all ages and sizes for a number of reasons. There are a number of ways to get rid of them or make them less visible. These include making long term lifestyle changes, using home remedies and having treatments done like stretch mark laser removal.
Treatments like this often come with a number of risks and side effects. Be aware of them all before you even make an appointment with your doctor. Consider alternative solutions, too. Let’s start by answering the most common questions about stretch marks removal.
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks or striae refer to indented streaks that may appear as lines, bands or stripes. They appear on the body as a result of the body growing faster than the skin can keep up with. As a result, the elastic fibers under the skin tend to break and causes the said marks to appear.
Stretch marks occur at the dermis of the skin. This is the middle layer of the skin that provides it with elasticity and strength. When there is rapid stretching of the skin occurs, however, the dermis ends up getting torn up in order to relieve pressure. Although the dermis tissue can readily repair itself, it tends to do so without the regular appearance of your normal skin. This is why the body ends up getting stretch marks.
Typically, stretch marks around the abdominal area, buttocks, thighs, upper arms, breasts, hips and even the back. There are also cases where these streaks cover large parts of the body.
What Are Stretch Marks Commonly Like?
Medical professionals classify stretch marks into striae rubra or striae alba. Rubra stretch marks are those that have just initially appeared in the skin. They take on a shade of pink, red or purple. These streaks can also appear like an inflammation on the skin.
On the other hand, stretch marks that have become fully matured are classified as striae alba. Over time, stretch marks develop a silvery white color and at this point, they become less visible than they once were.
While it’s true that the amount of time you’ve had the stretch marks can help determine their color, experts have also found that people with a lighter complexion tend to have streaks that have a pinkish shade. Meanwhile, those with a darker complexion tend to develop stretch marks that are lighter than their own skin tone.
Who is Affected by Stretch Marks?
You might be surprised to find out that stretch marks affect anyone and everyone, regardless of age or ethnicity. This is because stretch marks don’t consider what part of the world you were born in or what stage in your life you’re at. Rather, the only thing that determines whether you will have stretch marks on your skin or not is how your body grows.
That said, we all go through a stage in our life where we tend to grow significantly in size. This is better known as puberty and when this happens, as much as 70 percent of adolescent women find stretch marks on their bodies. In the case of adolescent men, as much as 40 percent of them also end up with stretch marks as they see changes in their body. These streaks are primarily associated with growth spurts.
Among a general population, the percentage of people who are affected by stretch marks can range from 50 percent to an overwhelming 90 percent. About 70 percent of all women are said to suffer from stretch marks at some point in time.
Women are also especially prone to developing stretch marks when they get pregnant. This is said to happen because the hormones in women designed to help soften collagen ligaments of the pelvis that allow for stretching during childbirth also tend to soften the collagen in the skin.
As for adult males, they are also susceptible to stretch marks due to certain daily activities the make their bodies bulk up such as bodybuilding and weight lifting. It has also been determined that about 40 percent of men will suffer from stretch marks at some point in their lives due to one factor or another.
What Causes Stretch Marks to Appear?
The reasons as to why men and women develop stretch marks vary greatly. Aside from going through puberty, expecting a baby and bulking up the body, here are some other more common causes of stretch marks:
- Severe weight gain
- Severe weight loss
- Being female
- Family history
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medication
- Hormonal fluctuations
Diseases and Stretch Marks: The Unwanted Duos
Aside from the reasons for stretch marks that are listed above, there are also a host of conditions that cause stretch marks to appear on various parts of a patient’s body. Here are a number of them:
- Zinc Deficiency: Having less than optimum levels of the mineral zinc in the body can cause a lot of problems to your health. It can affect your body’s ability to heal from wounds and even cause to become infertile. Zinc also helps the body produce collagen, which helps make the skin elastic. This is why your body develops stretch marks when you’re low on zinc.
- Diabetes: Diabetes refers to various metabolic disorders that affects the body’s ability to be able to process and use sugar effectively. Because of this, people with this disease tends to have an abnormally high level of glucose in their blood. Among the symptoms of diabetes is excessive weight loss, which could lead to the development of stretch marks.
- Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism is a condition wherein there is an overproduction of the thyroid hormone in the body. One of its symptoms is experiencing weight loss despite having an increase in appetite. As a result, this condition can contribute to the development of stretch marks in the body.
- Marfan Syndrome:Marfan syndrome is a genetic condition that affects the connective tissue in the body. A person with this condition suffers from a defect or mutation in the gene that instructs the body how to produce a protein known as fibrillin-1. More specifically, the altered mutation leads to an increase of a protein known as transforming growth factor beta or TGF-?. An increase in TGF-? leads to problems in various connective tissues in the body.
As a result, people suffering from Marfan syndrome tend to have a curved spine, flat feet and flexible joints. Aside from these, stretch marks also appear on the skin, although the development of such is not related to any weight loss or gain in the patient.
- Cushing’s Syndrome: Cushing’s syndrome is caused by excessive levels of glucocorticoid in the body. This may be due to the person being on steroid medication for a long time or the body itself producing an excessive amount of cortisol, which known as the stress hormone. It also helps regulate the body’s blood pressure and immune system.
Because of an abnormally high amount of cortisol in the body, a person suffering from Cushing’s syndrome may experience obesity particularly in the trunk of the body. A patient may also develop stretch marks that are purple or pinkish in color. They reportedly look like the ones that appear in pregnant women.
- Adrenal Cancer: Adrenal cancer is caused by the presence of tumor in a person’s adrenal gland. As a result, a person affected by this disease tends to experience an unexplained weight loss or weight gain. Perhaps due to this, stretch marks can also develop around the patient’s abdominal area.
What Can I Do to Treat My Stretch Marks?
Fortunately for you, there are a host of treatments, remedies and other solutions that can help remove stretch marks or at least, make them a lot less visible. In health clinics and beauty centers, one of the most common procedures for stretch marks removal is by undergoing a laser stretch marks removal treatment.
Stretch Mark Laser Removal: Different Types of Treatment
The truth is, there is more than one kind of laser treatment available to remove stretch marks on your skin. What you have to keep in mind, however is that only those streaks caused by weight gain, weight loss, pregnancy and puberty can be treated with lasers. For stretch marks caused by other conditions and diseases, you might want to consult with your physical before considering a laser treatment.
That said, here are a number of stretch mark laser removal treatments that are commonly used today:
- Pulsed Dye Laser: A pulse dye laser treatment works by the stimulating the growth of collagen and elastin inside the dermis of your skin. This causes the indented stretch marks to get filled out. The said treatment is also said to work better on new reddish stretch marks, rather than older white ones. For best results, it is recommended to under pulsed dye laser treatments for several sessions that are spaced about two months apart.
During this treatment, you may end up feeling a bit of stinging around your body. You may also experience some bruising on your skin as well as some bleeding for about two to three weeks following a treatment.
- Fractional CO2 Laser: In a fractional CO2 laser treatment, specialists use laser energy micro beams to break down the skin tissue in small areas and trigger the growth of newer and healthier skin in the affected areas. This process may end up creating a number of small wounds in the skin, but the body can naturally heal them. In effect, this treatment works like a chemical peel, but without much downtime or discomfort.
Typically, the normal course for fractional CO2 laser treatment for stretch marks requires a patient to undergo about two to three treatment sessions that are typically done about three to six months apart. The skin is expected to feel progressively firmer with each session.
- Laser Surgery: Laser surgery is done by using laser in place of scalpel to cut skin tissue. This treatment also helps stimulate the tissue around stretch mark scars to heal faster. This method takes a number of treatment sessions, but it is said to be ideal for white stretch mark laser removal.
New Age Lasers: A Look at Modern Stretch Mark Laser Removal Treatments
In today’s skin conscious world, several laser treatment options have been developed and made available to treat unsightly stretch marks. Some of them claim to be less complicated and safer than a standard stretch mark laser removal. Let’s go over a few of them.
Excimer Laser: An excimer laser treatment works by increasing melanin production in the body. Because of this stretch marks end up getting lighter and becoming less visible. The best part is this kind of laser treatment works great on both old and new stretch marks. It is also said to be an ideal stretch mark laser removal for dark skin.
- Icon Therapy: Icon therapy is a relatively newer form of stretch mark laser removal treatment that is said to be capable of reducing between 51 to 75 percent of stretch marks in the body. It is also said to be a more comfortable treatment than other lasers as it doesn’t harm the top layer of the skin or epidermis. Because of this, patients don’t require much pain relief and also experience less downtime due to recovery.
What You Should Expect If You Choose to Try Lasers
Before medical and beauty experts even recommend a stretch mark laser removal treatment to you, they will ask you to sit down with them so that they can ask you some questions to determine which course of treatment to follow in your case. Some of these may include:
- When did you first notice that you have stretch marks?
- Might you have other possible presenting symptoms?
- Are you taking any medications? If so, what are they?
- Are you regularly using cortisone skin creams?
This will help them determine if laser stretch marks removal would work for you.
Does Stretch Mark Laser Removal Work?
Based on the evidence, laser treatments to remove stretch marks can work; however, you may end up experiencing some pain and discomfort during the treatment sessions. Aside from this, you may also experience some side effects after each session, which can prove to be serious. You also need to note that none of these laser treatments come cheap.
What You Need to Know: Stretch Mark Laser Removal Costs and Side Effects
Just like any other medical or cosmetic treatment, stretch mark laser removal treatments comes with risks and significant costs. This depends on the exact method of laser treatment that you choose, how many sessions you would need to undertake and the kind of stretch marks that you have.
How Much Does Laser Stretch Mark Removal Cost?
In general, how much is stretch mark laser removal treatment going to cost you depends on the kind of laser treatment you have chosen as the cost varies per session. Because of this, some laser treatments end up costing significantly higher than others. You may also want to note that none of these treatments are typically covered by insurance.
As far as pulsed dye and fractional CO2 laser treatments for stretch marks are concerned, these procedures tend to cost about $500 to $800 per session. For them to be effective, doctors recommend that you undergo at least three to four sessions for both.
When it comes to the icon system, the treatment is said to cost about $495 per session. Depending on the severity of your stretch marks and physical condition, you may need between two to six treatment sessions, which would be done between four to eight weeks apart.
Other stretch mark laser removal treatment costs start from $200 per session Just like pulsed dye and fractional CO2 laser treatments, you cannot just have one treatment sessions if you really want your stretch mark to visibly fade or completely get removed.
What Kind of Side Effects Should I Expect After My Laser Stretch Marks Removal Treatment?
Before you decide to try a laser stretch marks removal treatment, you need to take note that all of these laser treatments come with possible side effects. These include:
- Temporary redness
- Prolonged redness
- Lightening of skin tone
- Darkening of skin tone
- Lightening of freckles
Medical Alternatives: Other Treatments That Remove Stretch Marks
Aside from laser treatments, there are also other medical treatments that are said effectively remove stretch marks. Here are a number of them:
Blue Light Therapy: Blue light therapy starts with an application of photosensitive gel on the part of the skin that will be treated. Afterwards, this will be exposed to significant bursts of light energy. It is said that while this treatment is not effective in removing stretch marks completely, it can help make stretch marks less visible.
- Chemical Peels:Chemical peels work by having chemicals burn away dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin. With these skin cells gone, new skin cells get to develop. They are healthier and stretch mark free.
- Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion works by spray blasting the affected part of the skin with fine crystals in order to exfoliate the skin and remove the outer layer. Once dead skin cells are removed, new and healthier skin cells with more elastin and collagen are able to form.
- Abdominoplasty:An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that works by removing excess skin from the mid to lower region of the abdomen. This way, the stretch marks found below the naval area are removed along with the skin. This procedure also helps tighten the abdominal muscles.
Looking Beyond Lasers: Exploring Stretch Marks Removal Alternatives
It’s understandable if the idea of undergoing a medical procedure for your stretch marks is making you anxious. If you think the treatments above are simply not for you, how about considering some alternatives? The good news is you can remove stretch marks with the help of exercise, diet and some remedies you can make at home.
- Removing Stretch Marks Through Exercise: If you need another reason to get up and start working out, think about making your stretch marks disappear for good. Since exercise helps reduce any unnecessary gain in weight, it is believed to help keep stretch marks from developing.
Not only that, exercise is also an effective way to improve circulation in the body. With better circulation, the skin can stay elastic, allowing it to stretch without getting torn up and developing any scars.
- Nutrition Update: Remove Stretch Marks by Having More of These Foods: Another easy way to keep stretch marks from appearing on your skin is to eat an assortment of healthy foods, specifically those that are known to counter stretch mark development. The next time you do your groceries, better grab some:
- Legumes and Brazil Nuts
- Turkey, Salmon, Sardines and Tuna
- Oranges, Grapefruit, Apricots and Mango
- Avocados and Tomatoes
- Blueberries, Raisins and Goji berries
- Cucumbers and Bell Peppers
- Sweet Potato and Pumpkin
- Broccoli, Spinach and Kale
- Yogurt, Butter and Eggs
- Wheat germ and Oat bran
Home Solutions: Making Your Own Stretch Marks Removal Remedy
You can also try removing your stretch marks using a cream you apply topically. Here’s a recipe you can readily prepare at home:
Ingredients to Gather
- Quarter cup of aloe vera gel
- Half a cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Four vitamin E capsules
- Six vitamin A capsules
How to Prepare Your Own Stretch Mark Cream
- Blend together the aloe vera gel and olive oil in a blender.
- Break the vitamin A and E capsules open and pour content into the mixture.
- Blend lightly and apply.
Stretch marks can be very annoying and damaging to your self-confidence, but there are lots of way to make them disappear. Consider the risks of stretch mark laser removal before you decide to try it. Remember that there are safer alternatives, too. Look at all the options and make the safest treatment decision for your stretch mark free self.