Stretch marks, or striae, are a form of skin scarring associated with pregnancy, obesity, puberty, and short-term weight gain from bodybuilding and other physical activities. They form when the dermis – the middle layer of the skin that maintains shape and elasticity – is stretched more than it can tolerate. Connective fibers in the skin eventually break, disrupting collagen production and causing scarring. This scarring may be treatable only through stretch mark removal.
Both men and women are susceptible to stretch marks, particularly on the thighs, hips, arms, buttocks, abdominal area, and lower back. There are several causes of stretch marks, including:
Genetics: Women are more likely to get belly stretch marks if their mother, for instance, had stretch marks after pregnancy. Significant weight gain and loss: Your skin stretches as your weight fluctuates, sometimes resulting in stretch marks.
Puberty: Growth spurts during puberty often result in stretch marks as the skin is unable to keep up with the body’s rate of growth.
Bodybuilding: Rapid development of muscle mass may stretch the skin beyond its limits.
Corticosteroids: Heavy or long-term use of oral or topical corticosteroids, a widely used pharmaceutical steroid compound, can lead to stretch mark formation.
Ethnicity: People with darker skin are less likely to have stretch marks.
During a laser stretch mark removal procedure, a beam of light removes thin layers of skin around the stretch marks. The excimer laser is uniquely effective for this procedure. Instead of burning or cutting the affected skin areas like other lasers, it uses high-energy ultraviolet laser light to disrupt the molecular bonds in the skin tissue, which causes the tissue to disintegrate in a process known as ablation. Once laser stretch mark removal is complete, the treated area will heal quickly, and new layers of healthy skin will form. Stretch marks will have disappeared, and a renewed, healthy appearance will result.
Laser stretch mark removal is highly effective in most cases. As with any other technique, success is dependent on the prevalence and age of the stretch marks in question – older and more serious stretch marks are more difficult to treat. Patients often require as many as 10 treatments to completely remove stretch marks. In the most serious cases, even a series of laser treatments may only reduce the visibility of stretch marks rather than removing them completely. Each case is unique.
The most important benefit of laser stretch mark removal is its effectiveness. The treatment has a very high rate of patient satisfaction. It is also extremely safe; the excimer laser is precisely controlled, with little potential to cause injury. Ultimately, it is less invasive than surgical body sculpting procedures such as tummy tucks, with less recovery time, lower cost, and fewer potential complications.