Stretch Mark Solutions

Are stretch marks limiting your wardrobe and your self confidence?

By, Kimberly Moskowitz, MS, MD

If you have survived the hormonal twilight zones of adolescence and pregnancy unmarred by embarrassing stretch marks, consider yourself fortunate to be in the minority. Between 75 and 90% of pregnant women and 40-50% of adolescents are stamped with these unsightly scars.They commonly develop on the abdomen, buttocks, breasts, hips, and thighs as the body impatiently grows faster than the skin can expand. Although rapid weight gain determines the location and direction of stretch marks; stretching of the skin alone is not enough to cause this unwelcome skin condition. Rather, a sudden change in hormone levels, particularly glucocorticoids, strongly influences stretch mark formation. These steroid hormones are particularly elevated during pregnancy, rapid weight gain or loss, weight training, and adolescence. They disrupt the normal secretion and alignment of collagen and elastin, the main structural support elements in the skin’s dermis.

Collagen and elastin give skin its bounce, firmness, and elasticity. Stretch marks form when the skin literally tears from expanding rapidly beyond its limits. This causes collagen and elastin fibers to rip apart, rendering them disorganized and useless. The skin’s infrastructure then collapses forming scars that we refer to as stretch marks. When they develop during pregnancy, they usually appear during the 6th-7th month. While there is obviously nothing you can do to stop the hormones during pregnancy, common sense measures such as staying well hydrated, daily prenatal vitamins, and topical application of serums or creams containing vitamins C and E may minimize the damage.

Stretch marks begin as reddish irregular streaks in the skin and evolve into silver or white glossy lines. These lines that once frustrated millions are now being softened and sometimes even completely erased using the newest laser technology, Fraxel™ skin resurfacing laser. The Fraxel ™ laser has recently shown dramatic results, improving the appearance of stretch marks by as much as 75%. Each Fraxel ™ treatment sends thousands of tiny but deep beams of laser light into the dermis where it stimulates the production of new collagen and elastin fibers. Fraxel™ stimulates the skin’s natural healing process to fill in and repair the scarred and over-stretched dermis. As new collagen is formed, stretch marks fade as skin tone and firmness improve. For optimal results, 5-6 treatments are performed 2-4 weeks apart. Each treatment takes about 30 minutes, is performed with topical anesthetic cream and offers the benefit of almost no downtime (5-7days of mild redness). Fraxel ™ is also FDA approved for and provides dramatic results in treatment of fine lines & wrinkles, acne & surgical scarring, age & sun-spots, and melasma. Laser treatments are not recommended during pregnancy, but can be performed almost immediately afterwards.

Although creams and lotions have not been proven to eradicate stretch marks, patients who are unwilling to undergo laser therapy may benefit from a series of microdermabrasion combined with Retin-A cream and serum containing Vitamin C and Centella Asiatica such as Is Clinical’s Super Serum.

Merely two decades ago, wrinkles, scars and stretch marks were defined as permanent and irreversible. Today, we are living in the “light age” where the pinpoint precision of laser beams expands the way we heal, the way we age, and the way we think….constantly redefining the limits of possibility. Lasers such as Fraxel™ can stimulate the body’s natural healing process to mend the scars of time. Thanks to these revolutionary advancements, these marks no longer need to leave an everlasting



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