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DSC_0015-8-stretch marks

Stretch Marks

Stretch marks or striae are unsightly marks or scars that can occur on nearly every body part except for the face. They can be red-pink stripes or lighter or darker than normal skin. They often occur after a rapid growth spurt or weight gain and therefore, are most commonly found on the thighs, abdomen, breasts, or upper arms where growth and excess fat occur. While not harmful, they can cause a significant amount of distress for patients.

What is a stretch mark?

A stretch mark is a type of scar that develops when our skin stretches or shrinks quickly. The sudden change causes the collagen and elastin, which support our skin, to break.  As the skin heals, stretch marks may appear.

Why do stretch marks happen?

Not everyone gets stretch marks. You may have a higher risk if other people in your family have also had stretch marks.  Conditions that allow your skin to stretch quickly also increase your risk of stretch marks. Examples of these are below.

  • Growth spurts that happen in puberty
  • Pregnancy these are also called striae distensae
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Weight training when you have rapid muscle growth
  • Medications like prednisone can predispose you to stretch marks because they weaken the skin
  • Using a topical steroid for a long time on your skin also increases your chance of getting stretch marks.

What do stretch marks look like?

Stretch marks can initially look red, purple, pink, or reddish-brown. At first stretch marks may feel slightly raised and can be itchy. The color of striae will eventually fade and flatten, and depending on your skin color, the final endpoint may be skin colored or lighter or darker than your normal skin.

How do you treat stretch marks?

There is no magic cream or procedure to erase stretch marks completely; however, there are numerous treatments to improve the appearance of them. Our team, in conjunction with Dr. Haseltine, Dr. Holcomb, and Nurse Practitioner Cherie can discuss options at your appointment. Understand that no treatment is perfect for everyone and almost always consists of a series or combination of procedures. The color of your skin and risks associated with stretch mark treatment must be taken into consideration. We have extensive experience treating all skin types at Pure Dermatology.

Medical grade topical treatments are critical to improve stretch marks and to protect skin when undergoing treatment. We offer and help select medical grade topical treatments clinically shown to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks like vitamin C, retinols and retinoids, and silicone. Sun protection is also nexessary to prevent worsening appearance of scars. We help choose products specific to your skin needs like silagen scar refinement system 100% pure silicone gel and silicone gel for scars + SPF 30, EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47, Revision Skincare Retinol Complete, skinbetter science AlphaRet Overnight Cream, Revision Skincare Vitamin C Lotion 30%, and skinbetter science Alto Defense Serum.

aka Secret RF, this type of microneedling has the added benefit of radiofrequency (RF) transmitted as heat into the deep layers of skin resulting in further collagen stimulation and skin tightening, and the reduction in the appearance of stretch marks by improving overall tone and texture of the skin. The addition of heat also seals up the blood vessels that has some effect on improving overall redness associated with some stretch marks. Most patients need 3-6 treatments spaced 4-12 weeks apart. Cost depends on area but we can usually treat about the size of a head and neck for $950 per treatment. Package pricing is available.

Secret RF also treats the following skin concerns:

  • Acne scars
  • Dull complexion
  • Sun damaged skin or premature aging
  • Scars from injury or surgery
  • Skin revitalization or adding luminosity to the skin
  • Active acne (especially when combined with topicals)
  • Overall skin rejuvenation
  • Large pores 
  • Neck lines (necklace lines)
  • Skin tone and texture
  • Fine lines and moderate wrinkles
  • Blackheads
  • Mild skin laxity
  • Crepey skin of the neck, knees, and upper arms
  • Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

Excel V is a powerful laser that targets the redness in the initial phase of stretch marks. Little downtime is associated with the Excel V laser treatment for stretch marks. Excel V treatments vary from 2-5 treatments spaced 2-4 weeks apart and cost $250-$525 per treatment depending the size of the area treated.

Excel V also treats the following skin concerns:

  • Rosacea
  • Diffuse redness (red face)
  • Bruising seen after fillers, surgery, or injury
  • Scars
  • Poikiloderma (sun damage)
  • Blue veins under or around eyes
  • Broken blood vessels (Telangiectasias)
  • Acne
  • Acne scarring
  • Large pores
  • Melasma (in specific cases)
  • Pigmented brown lesions or brown spots
  • Folliculitis or hair bumps
  • Laser hair removal in dark skin types 
  • Spider veins
  • Leg Veins
  • Cherry angiomas (hemangiomas)

Laser genesis is a no-downtime cousin of Excel V that helps treat the redness in the initial phase of stretch marks while gently heating the skin to stimulate production of collagen. Multiple treatment sessions are needed and treatment price is dependent on the extent of area treated. Laser genesis is also safe in pregnancy.

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