Are Stretch Marks Forever?

There’s likely little solace in knowing that stretch marks can affect anyone or that they’re quite common. Some people endure the stretching of skin during pregnancy, rapid weight changes, or growth spurts without developing these skin flaws, while others can see widespread effects. 

Generally, stretch marks fade over time, but again this seems to vary widely between people. Your skin type and body chemistry may play a factor in both stretch mark formation and change. There are treatment options that will improve their appearance, but it’s possible that stretch marks may never fade completely. 

Visit Bayview General Medicine for treatment with Cynosure’s Icon™ aesthetic platform, a versatile laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) system that penetrates your skin to minimize stretch marks from the inside out.  

Stretch mark formation

Collagen and elastin are two crucial support tissues residing in the derma, your skin’s middle layer. When your body undergoes abrupt changes in size, the matrix formed by collagen and elastin fibers can rupture, creating a type of scar inside your skin. As these ruptures heal, stretch marks start to appear. 

Stretch marks typically appear at predictable times. These include: 

The natural hormone cortisol can weaken collagen and elastin fibers, as can artificial corticosteroids. Stretch marks may form if your body is naturally high in cortisol or you use topical corticosteroids for an extended time. 

Laser stimulation of collagen

Since the collagen matrix in the derma is disrupted, resolving stretch marks requires stimulation of the collagen layer to remove old tissue and replace it with a newer, smoother matrix. This can be done with deep dermabrasion or aggressive chemical peel techniques, but these also damage the epidermis, the surface layer of your skin, requiring extended recovery times after treatment. 

The Icon system works through the epidermis, treating collagen directly without harming the surface. The light energy delivered by Icon gently warms collagen and elastin to the coagulation point, the temperature at which your body perceives the old tissue to be damaged. It starts creating a new collagen matrix while absorbing and disposing of the treated tissue. As the new matrix forms, stretch mark scars fade and fill in, softening their appearance and restoring an even skin tone. 

Factors that influence stretch mark recovery

Stretch marks are a condition tailor-made for the phrase, “individual results may vary.” Your age, skin type, overall health, and how long you’ve had the offending stretch marks all play a role in the success of your Icon treatment. 

Younger patients with recently appearing stretch marks may see better results that older people who’ve had their marks for decades. However, the full extent of results isn’t predictable in either case. 

You will, however, see improvement in virtually every case. Sometimes, additional treatments produce better results. If you’re unhappy with the appearance of your stretch marks, it’s time to consult with Dr. Richard Blanchar for his opinion on how the Icon laser system might help you. Contact Bayview General Medicine by phone or online to schedule your appointment today.

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