Stretch mark is a type of scar that develops when our skin stretches or shrinks quickly and it represents a skin condition and a cosmetic problem. They can appear on any part of the body, but most often they are found on the hips, thighs, back and calves.
They are a consequence of sudden skin stretching under the influence of growth and development, obesity, hormonal therapy, pregnancy, and long-term lifting of heavy weights. Stretch marks can be seen in almost 70% of women and 40% of men, in different body parts. In women, they are more common around the hips, and in men on the back or calves.
What happens when they appear?
When they appear, the stretch marks are red to purple in colour, linearly distributed. Over the next year, they begin to fade, only to develop white outlines of scar tissue in the final phase.
A stretch mark basically represents a scar characterized by an intact skin surface, while the ruptures occur in the deeper skin layers due to the lack of elastic fibers in the dermis (third layer of skin).
They are permanent changes in the skin and so far no adequate prevention has been found.
Why do stretch marks occur?
The reason for the stretch mark development is not fully understood. It is well known that there is a genetic predisposition, as well as some of the provoking factors, such as obesity, rapid growth, corticosteroid therapy. The first appearance of stretch marks is in almost 80% of cases in teenagers at puberty, under the influence of intensive production of growth hormones, as well as sex hormones, hip growth or growing in height. Pregnancy is one of the most common causes of stretch marks. As a result of very high doses of oestrogen and progesterone, collagen becomes weaker and abdomen, chest and thighs expand. Consequently, the skin cracks. To which extent it will happen depends on the genetic strength of the collagen, as well as the weight gained during pregnancy. Cushing’s disease or therapeutic exposure to corticosteroids leads to skin atrophy and collagen rupture, i.e. appearance of stretch marks.
How are stretch marks treated?
It is desirable to start removing stretch marks immediately after they are formed. Collagen and elastin modelling under the influence of laser, peeling, derma roller, carboxytherapy is much more intense in case of recent scars. Unfortunately, there is no treatment that can erase stretch marks, but there are treatments that can significantly reduce them. Especially after forty, the skin also loses natural collagen, making stretch marks more pronounced. Vbeam laser affects the microcirculation of scar tissue, promotes collagen and elastin production making the stretch marks look better. Fractional CO2 laser alone or in combination with Vbeam laser gives exceptional results, improving the appearance of stretch marks, as well as the skin around the stretch marks.
It is an ablative laser that penetrates the full thickness of the skin creating new collagen and elastin.
In the period of recovery, flaking and mild peeling of the skin can be observed, and the final result of one treatment can be seen three months after the therapy. Chemical peels are combined with dermapen. They have a similar effect as CO2 laser, but penetrating less deeper, and therefore having slightly lower result. Carboxytherapy stimulates neovascularization and new collagen production. It stimulates both the surrounding skin and the skin of the scar to produce collagen. Dermapen, PRP and mesotherapy increase the amount of growth factors.
Injection of hyaluronic acid fills the indentations in the skin.
To what extent can stretch marks be removed?
In order to treat stretch marks in the best possible way, it is necessary to combine different methods.
Unfortunately, there is no scientifically established treatment protocol for this skin condition.
Stretch marks can be significantly improved with a series of treatments, but no treatment can remove them completely. The number of treatments needed depends on the skin appearance and the extent of the stretch marks, but also on the patient’s wishes.