A stretch mark or striae is a type of linear, curved or horizontal scar that develops when our skin expands or shrinks quickly. The abrupt change causes the rupture of collagen and elastin fibres in our skin. These fibres support and maintain the firmness and elasticity of our skin. When these are broken down, they result in stretch marks.
If the person gains height, the stretch marks that appear are horizontal. If the person gains weight, the stretch marks appear are vertical i.e. perpendicular to the direction of stretching.
When do stretch marks appear?
Stretch marks may develop during-
Stretch marks can show different colours depending on the age of the scar. The early stretch marks may appear red and the late stretch marks may be white.
Commercial stretch mark creams and lotions available in the market have very little effect on the appearance of stretch marks.
The medicinal creams may help in reducing the appearance of stretch marks. Creams containing vitamin C, Hyaluronic acid and glycolic acid may help in the reduction of stretch marks. These may help to boost the collagen fibres, stimulates its synthesis and strengthen the upper layers of skin.
One may need months of treatment to see visible improvement in their stretch marks.
What are the treatment options available for stretch marks?
There are various procedures which can help to improve the stretch marks.
Non-surgical treatments such as micro-needling, micro-needling radiofrequency and lasers are far more effective in getting rid of stretch marks than lotions and creams.
To obtain the best results, we may combine more than one procedure.
How do these procedures work?
As stretch marks are caused by damaged collagen, these types of procedures help in the rebuilding of collagen or induction of new collagen fibres. These help in the remodelling of the scar and reduction of stretch marks with multiple sessions.
Is it painful?
The procedure is done after the application of numbing cream which anesthetise the skin. There is minimal pain during the procedure and the person can resume his or normal activities after the procedure.
How many sessions are needed?
Though the person may feel the improvement with in a session or two. Multiple sessions to the tune of 4-6 may be required for visible satisfactory results.
What is the time required for each session?
The time required depends on the area to be treated. 60 -90 minutes may be required for each session including the time required for numbing cream to act.
Are there any side effects of the procedure?
There no side effects of the procedures. There is mild redness, swelling and crusting after the procedure that stays for a few days. There is no post-procedure pain.
Can the stretch marks come back after the procedure?
Once the stretch marks have been removed or made quite better, they typically do not come back. However, if the conditions that originally caused the stretch marks in the first place come back, the creation of new stretch marks is possible. Similarly, if the patient is planning for another pregnancy, the procedures should be done after the pregnancy as this can cause new stretch marks to appear.
What are the advantages?