Stretch Marks and Stretch Mark Treatment
"What are Stretch Marks?"
Stretch marks are actually fracture lines in the substance of the skin. They may occur during pregnancy with weight gain. They are produced when the skin is stretched and thins to the extent that the elastic fibers within it are broken.
Stretch Mark Treatment
Stretch mark treatment is one of the fringe areas in medicine in which people are often duped. A brief search of the internet will reveal thousands of pages of "junk science" treatments for stretch marks. They cost varuiable amounts of money and don't work. The problem here is that only under special circumstances are there alternatives that do work.
A key in understanding stretch marks and their treatment is realizing that skin with these marks will never become normal again. It is generally considered unattractive for two reasons:
(1) Its color - it may be lighter or darker than adjoining uninvolved skin.
(2) It's texture - it usually appears and feels thinner than normal skin. There may actually be wrinkles in the skin as it tends to fold along the stretch marks.
The first of these items is hard to improve. The second is a bit easier in some cases.
Easy Treatments for Stretch Marks
(1) Prevention - In pregnancy, try not to gain weight excessively. Please do this as recommended by your physician. Also understand that stretch mark-laden skin will take pigment differently than regular skin. Sun exposure should therefore be limited (cover clothing, sun screens) or the color difference between the skin with and without stretch marks may become more apparent.
(2) Alpha-hydroxy-acids - These acids encourage lightening of the skin and some deposition of collagen. There are studies suggesting that they may be helpful in stretch mark treatment when used at 8-12% concentrations.
(3) Retin A - Retin A may help fade the color of pigmented stretch marks when used at .1% on newer marks. This again should be done under the direction of a physician. Kinerase is a related compound associated with less irritation than that seen with Retin A.
"What About Surgery For Stretch Marks?"
(1) Laser Treatment - Treatment with Pulsed Dye lasers may show some promise in the treatment of stretch marks. In some cases, the pigment irregularities between the stretch marks and adjoining normal skin may be decreased with laser treatment. This is experimental and must be considered on a case by case basis.
(2) Abdominoplasty - This is a "tried and true" remedy for women with great numbers of marks on the lower abdomen following pregnancy.
Common Sense And Stretch Mark Treatment
Understand that stretch mark treatment is variably effective. Some treatments may have little effect on one person and more of an improvement in another. Furthermore, some therapies may be associated with worsening of the color or texture of the marks.
Please note that this information (as well as that on all my pages) is offered freely to individuals considering cosmetic surgery. No rights are granted and it is not to be reprinted or copied without the author's prior written consent. Understand that some of the information presented may be a matter of professional opinion. Although efforts have been made to assure accuracy, no guarantees are expressed or implied.
©1996 John Di Saia, MD... an Orange County
California Plastic Surgeon