Stretch marks can appear during various periods in your life. From puberty to pregnancy, these imperfect lines in the skin aren’t painful to the touch but can hurt your self-confidence. There are topical creams that claim to eliminate stretch marks, but a laser removal procedure is the most effective way to treat them.
The marks may be visible from the skin’s surface, but they are located in the middle layer of the skin’s tissue, making it difficult for creams to reach this layer to erase the marks. However, laser light therapy can penetrate deep into the layers of the skin to remove the marks and stimulate new collagen growth.
So, let’s dive into the different types of laser removal treatments available for stretch marks. But first, what causes these skin flaws in the first place?
Stretch marks are caused by minor tears in the dermis (middle layer of the skin tissue) from the expansion of the skin. The extended stretch of the skin could come from weight gain, pregnancy, puberty, and muscle growth. The marks form parallel lines typically across the stomach, thighs, arms, and chest.
There aren’t different types of stretch marks, but there are different developing stages. When stretch marks first appear underneath the skin’s surface, they will have a red or purple-like tone signifying the inflammatory response to the tears in the dermis. When stretch marks transform into a white and silver-like color, this indicates that the tears have healed into a scar.
When it comes to treating stretch marks, it depends on the maturity or color of the scars. Newer marks that are red to purple will require a different laser treatment than scars that have matured to a white tone. We share the different types of lasers to treat the various stages of stretch marks, starting with newly formed marks.
The VBeam laser treats a variety of skin issues but is primarily used to treat broken blood vessels, like the ones found in immature red stretch marks. The VBeam technology uses pulsed dye lasers, which deliver short bursts of concentrated light beams that target damaged blood vessels underneath the skin’s surface. The energy from the laser converts into thermal heat, causing the vessels to coagulate and progressively collapse and naturally absorb into the body.
To treat mature white stretch marks, laser treatments that generate new collagen production in the dermis are the most effective way to treat these scars. The Fraxel Dual is a non-invasive treatment that uses different wavelengths of beams on a fraction of the skin at a time. The light beams are fractionalized using different wavelengths to treat skin pigmentation and heat the skin’s dermal layers to induce collagen production.
The VBeam and Fraxel Dual treatments use non-ablative lasers, meaning the light beams do not wound the skin’s surface and are designed to only treat the middle layers. Both treatments are considered non-invasive and are performed during a doctor’s visit.
The procedure will start with a board-certified dermatologist applying a numbing cream to the treated areas. After the topical cream goes into its full effect, the laser device will be placed on the skin. The burst of light beams will feel like a rubber band snap, and the treatment itself will last 15-20 minutes long.
Some slight swelling and redness may occur after the procedure, but the patient is free to continue their normal activities for the remainder of the day.
Treating stretch marks with laser therapy will require several sessions (at least four with 4-6 weeks apart) depending on the maturity of the scar. Lighter redness and newer marks may take fewer sessions than darker or white color scars.
The results from laser removal treatments can last for several years depending on how well the patient maintains the health of their skin by applying moisturizer and sunscreen daily to the treated areas.
Laser therapy to remove stretch marks are the most effective treatment to address the minor scars in the dermal layers of the skin. The type of lasers used to treat the flaws will depend on the color and maturity of the scar. A consultation with a board-certified dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon will help determine the best type of laser treatment to use for your stretch marks.
To find a board-certified dermatologist experienced with performing laser therapy treatments for stretch marks, use our “Find a Doctor” navigation tool for a medical professional in your area.