Goodbye, Stretch Marks: A No-Nonsense Guide to Laser Stretch Mark Removal
Laser treatment is a highly effective method for removing those stretch marks you get from being pregnant, experiencing rapid growth during puberty, or just gaining or losing weight because of exercise, bodybuilding, or natural growth. If you’re thinking about receiving laser treatment, it helps to know all the facts. Here’s a no-nonsense guide to laser therapy for stretch marks.
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks (or striae in medical terminology) are streaks that form in the dermis (your middle layer of skin) due to rapid changes in weight. They often occur during pregnancy, puberty, or in patients who have recently gained or lost weight. When sudden weight change stretches the dermis too quickly or too far, the skin’s connective fibers break apart, which causes scarring.
Stretch marks often appear as wavy red, purple, white, or silvery streaks on the skin. They can show up near your armpits, on your arms, chest, lower back, abdomen, hips, thighs, groin, or near your armpits. While stretch marks are not harmful, they can definitely make you feel self-conscious. Stretch marks can fade over time, but the only way to completely get rid of them is through laser treatment.
How does laser stretch mark removal work?
Most types of laser treatment use light to penetrate to the dermis and stimulate collagen growth. The top layer of skin disintegrates, and the healthier skin underneath replaces it. Because these forms of laser therapy allow the skin to heal itself, they’re generally very safe, minimally-invasive procedures. Other types of laser removal are even less-invasive, using light to target damaged blood vessels below the surface of the skin without disrupting the skin itself.
While laser treatment is generally highly effective in removing stretch marks, the success of the procedure depends on how old and how visible your stretch marks are. Many patients require up to ten sessions of laser treatment before the stretch marks will disappear completely.
What are the different treatment options?
Depending on the age, visibility, and number of your stretch marks, your dermatologist may suggest one of a few different types of laser therapy. The ones we commonly use at Schweiger Dermatology are the fractional CO2 Laser, Fraxel, the pulsed dye laser, and the KTP laser.
We’ve found that Fraxel and the fractional CO2 laser work best for stretch marks that are white or silvery. These lasers work by poking microscopic holes in the top layer of your skin to stimulate the growth of new, healthy skin in the dermis. On the other hand, the pulsed dye and KTP lasers work best for stretch marks that are red or purple. These methods target your skin’s damaged blood vessels without penetrating the skin.
What can I expect after laser treatment?
If you’re thinking about getting laser therapy for your stretch marks, it’s helpful to know what to expect. Talk to your dermatologist about how long your recovery period will be and what you can do to keep your skin healthy during that time.
Immediately after your treatment, you’ll probably notice that the treated area is red and a little tender. Don’t worry, this is completely normal. In fact, it’s a good sign – it means the top layers of skin have been successfully removed and new skin is starting to grow in place of the old skin. Some patients also experience blistering, but this is only temporary and nothing to worry about. Your skin will probably heal within a few days, though it may take as long as a few weeks, especially if you’re receiving treatment for particularly stubborn stretch marks.
The best news of all is that your results will be permanent – meaning you can kiss your stretch marks goodbye forever and say hello to fresher, smoother skin.