Stretch marks, otherwise known as striae distensae, are a form of discolored scar found in the skin. They are caused by shearing forces or tearing of the deeper skin layers and are generally permanent. Depending on one’s skin type and the age of the scar they can appear brown, white, or red. Stretch marks often begin red, often leading to brown and subsequently lose pigmentation totally. Depending on their severity, they can develop textural abnormalities that appear like cigarette paper.
Stretch marks generally result from rapid stretching of the skin associated with pregnancy, rapid growth spurts, weight gain, muscle building, severe hormonal fluctuations and/or abuse of drugs like topical or oral steroids that weaken the skin.
Common areas for developing stretch marks are the abdomen, the breasts, inner upper arms, thighs, hips and buttocks. They pose no health threat but are cosmetically unappealing. Between 75% and 90% of women develop stretch marks to some degree during pregnancy.
To date, topical therapy has proven to be totally ineffective despite their availability and the marketing of products in stores. Currently, there are only two effective treatments that haven proven to have efficacy. When stretch marks are red and relatively new, the VBeam pulsed-dye laser can remove the redness, improve the texture and stop the scar’s progression in its tracks. More recently, Non Ablative Fractional Laser Resurfacing, or Fraxel Restore, has proven to be the only effective means to improve white or brown stretch marks without risk to the skin. In only 4-5 treatments, dramatic improvement can be made (up to 75%). Read about these procedures on our site and ask Dr Frank if you are right for these treatments.