Stretch Marks – Bidding Them Farewell With Fraxel and Vbeam Lasers
Childbearing is a notable milestone in a many women’s lives, marking the start of motherhood. However, for many women, the mark of pregnancy is quite literal – their rapidly growing belly left them with unsightly stretch marks. While there are many over-the-counter topical creams meant for stretch marks, most, if not all of them has not proven themselves to be particularly effective.
Below, we shall discuss more about stretch marks in detail and explore the effective treatments methods to manage them.
How are stretch marks formed?
As the name suggests, stretch marks are formed when the skin is stretched excessively. Our skin is naturally elastic and naturally expands or contracts with small fluctuations in body shape. Given enough time, it can also naturally grow to accommodate larger changes. However, when there is a large change in body shape over a relatively short period of time, the skin is unable to grow quickly enough to adapt to the change. This causes supportive structures like elastin and collagen in the dermis to tear, creating streaks-like lesions across the stretched skin surfaces. Sometimes, capillaries can become damaged, turning the stretch marks a reddish-purple colour. Over time, the marks can become indented, depressed or uneven as damaged collagen structures are unable to repair themselves properly.
Causes and risk factors
Even though stretch marks are commonly associated with pregnancy, they can be formed by many other factors that lead to excessive stretching of the skin. The most common causes of stretch marks include:
However, the severity of stretch marks vary greatly amongst individuals. Some people can get stretch marks even with minimal body changes, while others may have these marks fade in just a couple of weeks. There are many risk factors that make one more likely to get stretch marks.
Stretch marks generally are more common in women, mostly because stretch marks are a common occurrence during pregnancy
Individuals who have high levels of cortisone are more susceptible to stretch marks, as this hormone reduces the elasticity of the skin
Use of corticosteroids can similarly thin out and make the skin less elastic, making stretch marks more likely
Certain diseases like Cushing’s disease and Marfan syndrome makes stretch marks more likely to form.
Signs and symptoms
Stretch marks are easily diagnosed with their distinctive shape, appearing as bands of parallel scarring on the skin. However, their texture and colour vary widely, depending on how old the marks are and individual conditions. Some of the possible textures and colours include:
Indented scars with uneven surfaces
Bright/lighter coloured streaks than the surrounding skin
The streaks may appear red, pink, purple, blue or black if vascular tissue is damaged.
Laser treatment of stretch marks
The exact signs and symptoms of stretch marks can vary somewhat widely between individuals. Hence, I will examine each case closely before deciding on a customised treatment plan. Nonetheless, most of these cases will involve Fraxel Dual Laser treatment and VBeam Laser treatment.
Fraxel Dual laser is a skin resurfacing laser designed to renew and rejuvenate aging or damaged skin and is exceptionally effective at addressing stretch marks. Unlike most other lasers, which tend to affect the entire targeted area, Fraxel laser works by delivering laser energy in microscopic columns to the treatment area. The laser energy stimulates collagen production and remodelling in the treatment zones to level out the indentations and uneven skin. The resurfacing effects of the laser also clears out most discolouration that the stretch marks may have.
The microscopic treatment columns affect only a fraction of the treatment area, leaving the surrounding tissue intact. This fractional treatment allows the skin to recover relatively quickly after treatment. After the skin has sufficiently recovered over several weeks, the next Fraxel Laser session can commence. The cycle can be repeated until the stretch marks have faded.
As many stretch marks tend to have some reddish or purplish pigmentation, the VBeam Laser treatment is effective as well. This laser is designed to address vascular skin lesions and reddish pigmentation, including reddish stretch marks as well. In our body, most of the red colour comes from haemoglobin, a reddish protein responsible for oxygen transportation. This protein is also responsible for the red, pink or purple colour seen in some stretch marks. VBeam uses a dual-wavelength 595nm and 1064nm pulsed-dye laser to specifically target haemoglobin in these stretch marks, breaking them up and alleviating the redness.
Stretch marks are a very common problem, especially amongst women during or after pregnancy. However, you should not let them mar your lives, especially since they can be easily addressed with modern laser treatments like Fraxel Dual Laser and VBeam Laser. If your stretch marks are bothering you, feel free to arrange a consultation with me. My team and I would be more willing to assist you.