By: Dr. Corey Hartman, Skin Wellness Dermatology
If you find yourself being bothered and even frustrated by the stretch marks on your arms, hips, abdomen, or thighs, you’ve probably looked into the best ways to get rid of them. Maybe you’ve even succumbed to the latest fad of at-home micro-needling in desperation to make them go away.
Whatever you’ve tried, the fact is, stretch marks can be stubborn and nearly impossible to get rid of with those DIY methods. But if you’re ready to finally know what really works and what doesn’t, I’m ready to let you in on the truth about getting rid of stretch marks once and for all.
A closer look at the science behind stretch marks
A stretch mark isn’t the thick scar that most people think it is. It’s actually a thin scar where the skin has gotten stretched out and has become thin as a response to rapid expansion. This thinning of the skin is known as skin atrophy, and it can occur for a multitude of reasons.
Some men and women get stretch marks during their teenage years when they go through a growth spurt, many women start to seem them during pregnancy, and others may begin to notice them once they start a weight lifting regime. Believe it or not, you can even get them from using topical steroids that bend the skin.
There are truly countless reasons both men and women find themselves with stretch marks at some point in their lives.
The truth about stretch mark creams and their limits
The cream that dermatologists use for stretch marks is Retin-A, or tretinoin, which is also used for acne, acne scars, and mild skin resurfacing. And that’s kind of how it works to improve the appearance of stretch marks – it helps to gently resurface the skin.
That being said, the cream is going to have its limits.
You’ve got to deal with the thinning of the skin, the discoloration, and possibly some blood vessels that have become more visible – and you’re not going to address any of that with a cream.
Laser stretch mark removal and what to expect
Without a doubt, the Fraxel® laser is my go-to for getting rid of stretch marks.
When you do the Fraxel laser to remove stretch marks, you’ll need to be in it for the long haul. For most patients, I recommend 4-6 treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart.
As you complete these treatments, you’ll gradually see results, and even up to three months after your last session, you’ll continue to see the skin remodel.
In general, the treatment itself is pretty easy, and there’s not any downtime. You do have to numb for about an hour, or otherwise – I’ll just be honest – it would be pretty uncomfortable.
The skin does get a bit red and puffy right after the treatment, but most of the time stretch marks are on areas that you’re covering up anyway so it’s not really an issue.
Removing stretch marks with a customized treatment plan
The Fraxel laser is the best treatment option for getting rid of stretch marks, but who said you only get to pick one? The truth is, it’s not just about the laser; it’s about the mind that can look at your situation and figure out what it is you need. A lot of times, one treatment option isn’t going to address all the issues we’re dealing with, and many times, a combination of treatments is going to be best.
Let me explain further. I have a patient who was desperately wanting to get rid of his stretch marks. He had success with Fraxel, but we ended up combining the Fraxel with other treatments in order to get the absolute best possible results.
We utilized the vascular Excel V laser to get rid of the remaining redness, and we also used the SkinPen micro-needling device to stimulate collagen growth. While the laser was stimulating collagen growth through heat, the SkinPen stimulated it through mechanical means – so we were able to get the benefit both ways.
Everybody’s stretch marks are different, and it’s all about combining the right treatments in order to get the desired results. For some, that might mean using a tretinoin in between laser treatments or applying another type of cream that can help fortify the skin.
Creating a customized plan to finally get rid of stretch marks
While the Fraxel laser is going to be the go-to treatment for getting rid of stretch marks, it’s really all about customizing treatments and having all of the available options at your disposal.
Most dermatologists can offer you a good option for getting rid of stretch marks, but in order to get the best possible results, I highly suggest you seek out a dermatologist who has the ability to provide you with a range of options. This way, you’ll have the greatest chance of making those stretch marks a thing of the past.
Learn more about laser stretch mark removal from Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL
At Skin Wellness Dermatology of Alabama, we offer cutting-edge skincare and dermatology services to our patients in the Greater Birmingham area, including Hoover and Homewood. At our offices in Birmingham & Chelsea, AL, our certified dermatologists are here to listen to your concerns and offer the individualized, high level of patient care you seek. We believe in making care accessible and affordable, and we will go out of our way to accommodate your visit. Give us a call today at 205-871-7332.