Can IPL Make Stretch Marks Worse?

Stretch marks on the  breasts, hips, thighs, butt area and calves. Have had five series of IPL and it did nothing. Now they seem worse after IPL - is that possible?

Doctor Answers 10

IPL not much help for stretch marks

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Striae or stretch marks are due to relatively rapid expansion of skin and/or significant loss of collagen due to corticosteroid. Fresh stretch marks may be red (or vascular) and IPL may be mildly helpful in getting them to become more blanched and white. That is pretty much it. I would start with prescription strength topical retinoid which can help to stimulate collagen and subtly improve texture of stretch marks. Ongoing studies are underway to confirm few anectodal reports of successful treatment of stretch marks with Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing.

Bay Area Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

No, you may even get some tightening with IPL treatment of stretch marks.

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IPL will not make your stretch marks worse.  You may even get a little bit of tightening.  The heat produced by IPL is not enough to do much at all for stretch marks, but it certainly won't make them worse.

Mark Taylor, MD
Salt Lake City Dermatologic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

IPL and Stretch Marks

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I haven't seen IPLs make stretch marks worse, not to discount your experience.  Initially they may appear more red and perhaps swollen such that the stretch marks will appear worse but over time, it should improve-by how much?  that's hard to say.  I prefer to use a fractionated laser such as Fraxel or Profractional to improve stretch marks.  It does a decent job on them depending on the severity.  VBeam also does a good job on new onset stretch marks.  Good luck to you, hope this information helps!

Amir Moradi, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

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Stretch mark treatment

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IPL should not make stretch marks worse.  However, there are few treatments that will make these straie better.  IPL and laser therapy can reduce redness or pigmentation of stretch marks, but will not entirely alleviate them.  These are challenging problems.  A conservative treatment regimen includes topical retinoids. 

Jason Hess, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon

IPL for stretch marks

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Improving stretch marks is difficult. Using a light based treatment to achieve this can be difficult. The idea is that the energy from the IPL will turn on some amount of collagen growth and treat any redness from visible vessels in the area.  Realistic expectations are the key when trying to treat stretch marks and some other devices may be more helpful.  As far as making you worse , That would be unusual and unexpected. 

Shawn Allen, MD
Boulder Dermatologist

IPL treatment for stretch marks

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IPL treatment might improve the appearance of your stretch marks slightly if your stretch marks are still red.  It is highly unlikely that it would make the appearance of your stretch marks worse.  There are some other modalities that might help your stretch marks, such as retinoid creams and some lasers.  Unfortunately at this time we do not have a way to markedly improve the appearance of stretch marks, although many patients are happy with moderate improvement.

Boris M. Ackerman, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

IPL and Stretch Marks

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Stretch marks are NOT marks, they represent permanent CRACKS through the skin. These appear after rapid skin expansion (pregnancy, obesity, certain disorders such as Cushing's etc). As such, they cannot be erased by ANY modality (lasers, IPL,creams, lotions, rollers, pills, yoga etc, etc)

The ONLY thing we can do for them with IPL or lasers is to reduce the amount of blood vessels that run through these cracks and thereby render them white/silver earlier. Period. Attempts to shrink them are on-going but in my opinion have been much MORE predictably successful at shrinking the size of YOUR purse.

Intense Photo Light will not hurt the stretch marks but is just another way to separate you from your hard earned money, in my opinion.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

IPL for Stretch Marks

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We have been treating Stretch marks with lasers for the past 5 years and we have never seen any that have gotten worse because of Laser treatments. Many have not responded well, but we do not know any reason why they would get worse.

Stretch marks are extremely difficult to treat, especially if you have the thin, white or silvery type. We have treated many different stretch marks successfully and a good many without any appreciable results as well. The easiest type of marks to revise are new stretch marks that are pink (Caucasians) or brown (Hispanics, Asians and African Americans).

We have also had pretty good results revising the texture of marks - making them less rough and deep. But, thin white stretch marks with less color than the surrounding tissue are extremely difficult to treat and we do not have a good solution for them currently.

We do not use IPL to treat stretch marks. We use the following:

  • Pulsed dye lasers (red/textured stretch marks)
  • Q-switched lasers (brown/textured stretch marks)
  • Aramis laser(textured stretch marks)

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Strongly Doubt It

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IPL treatment for stretch marks is an acceptable, though often fruitless, treatment for stretch marks.

It would seem on the surface of things that IPL treatments should be excellent for stretch marks. After all, they are supposed to disrupt collagen which signals the fibroblasts to pump out more collagen and elastin. An early study, published in Dermatologic Surgery 2002 Dec: 28 (12) indeed concluded that IPL was a safe and effective modality for treating stretch marks. However, a more recent study published in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 2008 May; 32 (3) contradicted this finding. These investigators, although admitting there was histologic change,( improvements under the microscope, )did not feel that the clnical gains were minimal.

I can find nothing in the literature that would indicate that IPL WORSENS stretch marks. Further, it does not make sense to me biologically that it would.

You might try another form of treatment such as Fraxel. There is much more in the literature showing this to be a helpful in the fight against stretch marks. However, even Fraxel has its limitations so I would hate to see you disappointed a second time.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist

IPL for stretch marks

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IPL should have no untoward affectws on your stretch marks.  There really is no good solution to treat stretch marks.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

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