Can Surgery Do Anything to Correct Stretch Marks?

I know that creams won't work on stretch marks and lasers will only do a little bit if the stretch marks are new, but I am willing to take more drastic measures to get rid of my stretch marks. Would surgery be able to do anything for me? Thx

Doctor Answers 6

A tummy tuck for your abdomen

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Yes, a surgical approach to treating stretch marks is the most complete and effective way of completely ridding your body of them. Non surgical approaches are usually effective, however, in most cases, all they do is decrease their appearance on your skin. 
Performing a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is the most effective way of removing stretch marks. 
The tummy tuck tightens a patients abdominal muscles and removes excess skin in the mid to lower abdominal region. All stretch marks below the naval are discarded along with the excess skin. This works flawless on postnatal women.

Hope this helps!

Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon

Stretch marks - three possible solutions

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Stretch marks commonly occur during pregnancy or from rapid weight gain.

  • When stretch marks are newly formed ( less than a year), lasers and phototherapy can be used to reduce the redness and visibility of the stretch mark.
  • Individual large stretch marks can be surgically removed, although a fine line scar will replace the stretch mark.
  • A larger area of stretch marks on the lower abdomen can be removed during an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck by removing the entire area of excess skin.

Mark Codner, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon

Effective Approaches to Stretch Mark Removal

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Stretch marks can be corrected. Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) is a surgical procedure used to tighten a woman’s abdominal wall as well as the lax, excess skin that develops in the mid to lower abdomen, commonly after childbirth. If you have stretch marks below the navel, a Tummy Tuck will remove the skin and the stretch marks will be gone.
However, if your stretch marks are below the navel or elsewhere on your body, you’ll need an alternative solution.

Stretch marks are actually scars caused when the dermis layer of skin tears because it’s being stretched too much too fast. In addition to the stretch marks from pregnancy, these striated scars typically are caused by teenage growth spurts, extreme weight gain, or extreme muscle development. Besides the abdomen, areas where stretch marks normally appear include the upper arms, buttocks, and thighs.

Surgical excision will leave a scar, so I would suggest a non-surgical approach, such as Fractional Skin Resurfacing (Fraxel). This procedure uses laser energy to wound the targeted tissue. Doing so triggers the increased production of collagen and elastin to heal the tissue and fade the surface scars.

I’d also look into Carboxytherapy, a treatment that involves the injection of carbon dioxide below the skin's surface. Carbon dioxide occurs naturally in the body and has a very therapeutic effect on skin, increasing cell turnover and stimulating a natural healing process that effectively fades the surface stretch marks.

Hal Michael Bass, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon

Surgery for stretch marks

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Unfortunately stretch marks cannot be removed by any non-surgical method. The only way they can be removed is through surgery. Stretch marks are caused because the skin is stretched beyond its capacity to recoil. Its like a rubber band that is over stretched and can never regain its original shortened length. Any laser that claims to tighten skin has not addressed the basic physiologic problem which is a dermis that is overstretched. The laser will however help the coloration but the stretch marks themselves will persist. You have to ask yourself if the goal is stretch mark removal or if its the discoloration that bothers you. Your best option is to have them surgically remove where appropriate. Unfortunately not all areas are amenable to surgery. Visit with a plastic surgeon.

Surgical excision is the only effective modality to remove mature stretch mark(s)

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Stretch marks are visible scars occurring in the skin. Stretch marks are caused by a tearing of the dermis and are the result of rapid stretching of the skin seen during periods of rapid growth. The normal expansion of the skin cannot keep pace with the volume growth and a rent or tear occurs within the dermis. This most commonly occurs during puberty, pregnancy or weight gain.

The scars are heightened by a color change with pink or red hues occurring when the stretch marks are young and newly formed up to 9-12 months. During this early phase lasers and IPL may be effective in lessening the appearance of the stretch marks.

Mature stretch marks are those that are older than a year. Depending upon one’s skin type, these may appear either as hyper- or hypopigmented scars.

At this time, surgical excision is the only effective modality-either by targeting individual stretch marks alone or by removing a segment of skin that is populated by numerous stretch marks, as seen in tummy tucks and body lifts, etc. A prospective patient who is considering surgical excision must realize that it is a tradeoff in visible improvement… exchanging surgical scars for the stretch mark(s).

I hope this helps.

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Reducing stretch marks on the abdomen in Los Angeles

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The fractional co2 laser has been used successfully to reduce stretch marks on the body, including the breasts, hips, and thighs.  The abdominal area works well to reduce stretch marks before or after liposuction. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.