What is the Best and Most Effective Treatment for Severe Stretch Marks?

Doctor Answers 5

Excision is the best treatment

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There have been numerous answers regarding strech marks on this web site. I would refer you to them for a review. Bottom line is that only those stretch marks that are within the boundries of skin that can be excised will ever be gone for good. This can happen in the lower abdomen in a tummy tuck. All the lasers and creams in the world can't get rid of stretch marks, only lighten them. This is because a stretch mark is an injury to the deeper layers of the skin with the outer layer left intact. As such, there is no way to repair these.

Effectve treatment for stretch mark?

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Unfortunately stretch marks cannot be removed by any non-surgical method. Fresh (red) stretch marks have a better chance of being treated and lightened, but not removed. 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.

Stretch marks what they are and how to treat them

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If you look at a stretchmark under the microscope you see collagen fibers lined up into parallel sheets rather than the normal random pattern present in normal skin. Also, there is a flattening of the normally wavy or sinusoidal junction between deep and superficial skin. This makes the stretchmark skin more susceptible to shearing forces so if you pulled at the skin it would tear along the stretchmark first.

They start out flat with a faint pink color and sometimes itch. Overtime they widen, lengthen and darken in color. After several years they fade whiten and become depressed. When the stretchmarks are pink a flashlamp laser can be used to lessen the redness and this makes them less noticeable but this laser can depigment surrounding darker skin as in Afro-Americans. More recently fractional CO2 laser has been shown to yield some visible improvement. Radiofrequency application has shown similar results but the degree of improvement is less. Others have tried chemical peels. None of these treatments has been able to completely erase stretchmarks and multiple applications are usually required before any result is seen.

Many people claim the application of cocoa butter will prevent stretch marks but this has never proven to be the case. There is some evidence though that topical vitamin E can be preventative. This is most likely because it acts as antagonist to the hormones that contribute to stretch mark formation.

The only treatment that is sure to remove stretchmarks is surgical removal as in an abdominoplasty/tummy tuck. However that is only the case for stretchmarks around/below the level of the belly button. Those above the belly button can be shifted downward in position but are usualy not removeable.

Aaron Stone, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Surgical excision still the gold standard for stretch marks

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Stretch marks are full thickness injury to the skin that spares the very superficial epidermis. The best way to address them is by surgical excison when feasible. We tried some skin care products that contains collagen and elastin but the results are not very encouraging. Some reports mentioned the value of Fraxel for stretch marks, but I personally did not try it for this indication. Hope that helps!

Allow time and healing

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Stretch marks are an indication of fractured or broken connective tissue in the skin. The thin skin of stretch marks has very little support and often looks red. Mature stretch marks are shiny and lighter than surrounding skin.

The bottom line on removing stretch marks is to remove the skin that contains the stretch marks. The most common procedure that removes stretch marks is a tummy tuck. Anything less than this will yield very little results. Ointments and creams are ineffective. Lasers will help to reduce the color a little faster than nature itself and Fraxel may improve the contour a little bit, but will not get rid of the stretch marks completely.

Marcus L. Peterson, MD
Saint George Plastic Surgeon

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.