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WHAT ARE STRETCH MARKS (STRIAE)?


Stretch marks, or striae, as they are called in medical literature, are red, purple, or white lines on the skin surface. They usually occur as a result of excessive and rapid skin stretching or hormonal changes. They are often seen in puberty, pregnancy or after weight loss. The fibers in the connective tissue get damaged, and the skin looses elasticity. The dermis, which is a middle layer of the skin, is then lacerated, and stretch marks appear. They can take different forms - from hardly noticeable strips to long unsightly scars. The red or purplish color of striae is caused by blood vessels in the connective tissue; they get visible after tearing of the skin. Over the time, stretch marks turn white, and even tanning can't change that color. Stretch marks present no health risk, and do not impair the body's ability to function normally. Still, for many people they become a frustrating problem, and they want to get rid of striae to make their skin look better.


HOW ARE STRETCH MARKS (STRIAE) REMOVED?

Fractional resurfacing treatments such as Fraxel bring about a skin self-healing process that can also diminish the appearance of stretch marks. Fractionated CO2 devices differ from traditional CO2 lasers which use a large beam of light to penetrate the skin and stimulate collagen growth. Both lasers treat deep wrinkles, age spots, scars and more, but recovery was often difficult with the older technologies. Fractional resurfacing is different because rather than using one large beam, it uses several smaller columns of light. These columns leave areas of healthy skin between them, causing less damage and maintaining a good result.


HOW LONG DOES TREATMENT TAKE? HOW MANY SESSIONS ARE NEEDED?

Treatment with the laser devices takes mentioned above takes anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour depending on the number of stretch marks and their size. Usually 2 to 7 treatments sessions are required to see a 50 to 95% improvement. These are spaced out every 4 weeks (on average).


WHAT IS THE PRE CARE INSTRUCTIONS FOR STRETCH MARKS (STRIAE) REMOVAL?

Typically, we ask our patients to discontinue the use of retinoic acid products and glycolic acid products for 3 to 4 days before your next treatment. It is also wise to stay out of intense sunlight (or tanning beds) beginning 1 week prior to your treatment.


HOW MUCH DISCOMFORT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE TREATMENT?

There is mild to moderate discomfort with our stretch mark removal procedure. A topical or local anesthetic is all that is usually required. Topical anesthetics are applied for 30 to 60 minutes and covered with Saran Wrap™ to enhance the cream's effectiveness. Pain usually is described as a modest burning, or stinging. Cool compresses and medications can readily help to alleviate any discomfort.


HOW LONG DOES THE SKIN TAKE TO HEAL?

Stretch mark removal is mildly traumatic to the skin. Bruising and minimal swelling is often noted post op. Depending on the location, these processes can take up to two to three weeks to heal. Once the skin has fully healed, you can then undergo another treatment. It is important to note that mild hypopigmentation can develop at the treatment site.


WHAT ABOUT POST OP CARE?

We recommend a post laser skin care system. Remember to stay out of intense sunlight the week after your stretch mark removal treatment has been performed. To maintain the benefit of your laser treatment, we recommend a novel anti-stretch mark cream which was developed by dermatologists for dermatologists. Concealing makeup, e.g. Jane Iredale™, can be used to minimize the color changes of healing if the stretch mark is in a noticeable location and you experience bruising.


HOW LONG WILL THE BENEFITS FROM STRETCH MARK REMOVAL LAST?

The benefits from the stretch mark removal procedure can last for a long time. Repeat treatments are sometimes required to further enhance your results but this is determined on a case by case basis. In our experience, patient satisfaction has been high for this procedure. Results, however, may vary from patient to patient.