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Stretch Marks

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. In some cases, fractional laser treatment improve the stretch marks conditions.

Stretch marks are characterized by white or colored streaks in the skin. Over time, the coloring of stretch marks often fades away, leaving marks in the skin that are often lighter then the rest of the skin. These marks, do not tan along with the rest of the skin because they are a form of scarring.

Causes of Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are caused by a variety of reasons :

- Women during pregnancy often experience stretch marks as the skin stretches at a rate too fast for the skin to keep up with.
- Obesity and bodybuilding can also lead to stretch marks as the body rapidly puts on additional weight.
- Even puberty can be a cause for stretch marks.

These marks can appear anywhere on the body when the skin has been excessively stretched (breast, abdomen, arms, buttocks..).

After the body returns to its smaller size, such as after childbirth or after losing excess weight, the stretch marks generally become less apparent.
In addition, laser treatment can be used to help minimize the appearance of stretch marks.

Laser Treatment of Stretch Marks

Sometimes, the same lasers used to treat vascular problems, are used to treat stretch marks. Researchers are not sure why these lasers seem to be the most effective, but believe it has to do with the ability of collagen or elastin molecules to absorb the light. Repeated treatments may be necessary and the improvement may occur slowly.

True testing of improvement is difficult to discern because stretch marks do not photograph well and can seem less apparent from one angle than another. In addition, younger patients seem to have the best outcomes, as do those that have stretch marks that are thin and pink. Flat, white stretch marks do not appear to have as much improvement following laser treatment, though improvement is possible. In addition, those with stretch marks as the result of weight gain, which tend to be very deep, generally do not respond as well to laser.

It is important for you to understand before undergoing treatment that the stretch marks will probably not be removed completely. Rather, they will become less apparent.

Various treatments are available for the purpose of improving the appearance of existing stretch marks, including laser treatments, dermabrasion, and prescription retinoids.

A new modality, fractional laser resurfacing, offers a new approach to treating striae. Using scattered pulses of light only a fraction of the scar is zapped by the laser over the course of several treatments. This creates microscopic wounds and as such is a "no downtime" procedure. The body responds to each treatment by producing new collagen.

A Typical Stretch Mark Laser Treatment Session

Protective eyewear must be worn by both the patient and the doctor during the session.

The number of sessions depends on stretch marks and on the recommended laser.

Stretch Mark Laser Treatment Potential Counter-Indications

- Current cutaneous infection on the zone (the presence of a cutaneous suspect hurt has to be the object of a dermatological consultation before the treatment)
- Collagen irregularities
- Use of photosensitive medication
- An active skin infection on the area to be treated.

Aside from pregnancy, which always constitutes a counter-indication as a matter of principle, the main counter-indication for treating acne by laser is the taking of retinoid-type medications.

Price of Stretch Mark Laser Treatment

The price of the session varies according to the size of zones to be treated. It is always possible to make at first the treatment on a portion of stretch marks to see if the laser provokes - in your case - the wished effect and to minimize the cost.