Stretch marks are a normal part of adulthood. Due to growth during puberty, hormone change periods, weight loss, weight gain, pregnancy, and/or illnesses, people can experience changes in their bodies. Part of these changes become visible on the skin. The skin is resilient; however, rapid expansion or contraction can cause the connective tissue to be stretched beyond its limits. Narrow streaks, stripes, or lines develop as the skin heals after the breach.
In the early stages, stretch marks appear as red, purple, pink, or reddish-brown. They look like wrinkles and may feel slightly raised and itchy. Over time, the color fades to white or silver and they become flat. Different people have stretch marks that vary in severity. Although they are not harmful to health, treating them is a concern for some people due to their unpleasant appearance. They commonly appear on the arms, back, shoulders, breasts, buttocks, legs, hips, or stomach.
Causes and Risk Factors of Stretch Marks
Several conditions contribute to stretch marks. They can develop when people experience puberty, pregnancy, excessive weight gain or loss, or have high levels of cortisone from medications or diseases. No matter the cause, stretch marks happen when the skin cannot return to normal after periods of change. Other factors such as family history, chronic diseases, obesity, bodybuilding, and age-related changes in skin collagen can also lead to developing stretch marks. Collagen makes the skin more elastic, meaning it is important to have sufficient collagen to minimize the effects of body changes.
Stretch Mark Treatment
Stretch marks are considered scars and are permanent. After some time, they become less noticeable for mild cases. Cases in which they cover a larger portion of the body may benefit from commercial treatment options that are available now.
Creams, lotions, and gels applied to the skin can help diminish the marks. Those containing retinol and tretinoin may improve the appearance of new stretch marks or help rebuild collagen levels, respectively.
Board-certified plastic surgeons can help evaluate treatment options that are possible for each case. Although there are no miracle cures for stretch marks, treatments can improve the skin’s appearance and texture significantly.
Some of the procedures to reduce the appearance of stretch marks are chemical peels, microdermabrasion, radiofrequency, ultrasound, cosmetic surgery, microneedling, laser, and light therapies.
Chemical peels remove dead and damaged skin cells and promote skin regeneration. A similar type of treatment is microdermabrasion, which removes a thin layer of skin to promote the growth of new and more elastic skin. A newer, non-invasive treatment called microneedling can also be effective in treating stretch marks in certain areas. Microneedling induces controlled skin wounds to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin for long periods of time after treatment. It can be combined with other treatments, such as laser stimulation, to increase its effectiveness and longevity.
On the surgical side, there are several plastic surgery procedures that can reduce or eliminate stretch marks on a specific area of the body. These include abdominoplasty (or tummy tuck), breast lift, and thigh lift. These procedures involve removing excess skin, tightening the skin, and flattening and removing any remaining stretch marks.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Are you ready to experience a smooth skin tone in your worst problem areas? Contact the skincare experts at Allegany Plastic Surgery today. Dr. Robert Carpenter can walk you through your options to treat your troublesome stretch marks during your initial consultation and prescribe a treatment plan that meets your needs and current skin condition. Call us at (301) 724-5885 to schedule your consultation today.