Does Microdermabrasion Work on Stretch Marks?

I have new red strecht marks and also old white ones. I just started using the scar gel from Dermae to reduce the appearance of the red ones. Does the use of microdermabrasion help the treatment?

Doctor Answers 6

Not effective

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Unfortunately microdermabrasion isn't very effective for stretchmarks. Stretchmarks are notoriously difficult to treat. A tummy tuck can help get rid of those under the belly button, and lifts can also remove some. However, for nonsurgical options, you may want to consider micro needling. Results are unpredictable and may take a little while to achieve.

Treating Stretch Marks

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Stretch marks, or striae distensae, are another common cosmetically-troubling problem for which ideal treatment is still unavailable. Like the American flag, stretch marks come in red, white and blue. Early on, they may be reddish and slightly elevated, later, dusky purple or bluish, and finally, ivory-colored or whitish flattened bands with a wrinkly, crinkly surface. Typically, they appear on the breasts, abdomen, thighs and arms and commonly appear after the skin is excessively stretched as a result of adolescent growth spurt, pregnancy, weight gain and weight lifting. They are estimated to affect seventy percent of adult women and forty percent of young men.

Although much remains to be learned about what causes them, current wisdom suggests that stretch marks result from an overproduction of adrenal glucocorticoid, which accompanies each of the above circumstances. They can also appear following prolonged use of high potency glucocorticoid creams and ointments. Whichever the case, the high level of steroids interferes with the production of collagen and elastin fibers, resulting in a loss of dermal support that leads to tearing when the skin is stretched.

The term stretch marks is actually a misnomer. Although stretching may determine where striae may appear and even in which the direction they run, it does not cause them. In fact, no matter how much you stretch or overstretch, they will not appear unless glucocorticoid steroid levels are increased. In general, the earlier that stretch marks are treated, the better.

Most of the current over the counter (OTC) creams and lotions that are purported to work for preventing or treating stretch marks serve little more than to simply moisturize the skin. By contrast, I have found that the daily topical application of high potency retinoids (vitamin A derivatives), such as Avage, along with alpha hydroxy acids, such as Amlactin, have been helpful for promoting new collagen and elastic fiber production and stimulating the turnover of epidermal cells. 

Unfortunately, we currently do not have any gold standard method for entirely eliminating mature stretch marks. We do, however, have a number of very effective techniques for improving them. Although lasers and intense pulsed light therapy have their proponents, overall, I have not been particularly impressed with their efficacy. Microdermabrasion, as its name suggests, is simply too superficial a process to do anything and is, in my opinion, not worth the time, effort and expense.

My treatment of choice, and one that I have personally had great success and patient satisfaction with combines the use of medical microneedling with a Dermaroller followed by the use of a collagen-stimulating filler. Treatment typically entails  two sessions of medical microneedling (occasionally three or four), performed under local anesthesia, spaced at a three month interval, followed by the injection of tiny amounts of a stimulatory filling material. such as Radiesse. Using these techniques, I have had gratifying results even for "mature" stretch marks that have been present for several years. 

Nelson Lee Novick, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Complete Waste of Money

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Microdermabrasion is a complete waste of money for stretch marks.  The treatment is too superficial to address the dermal layers of the skin to stimulate collagen production.

Jerome Potozkin, MD
Danville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Options for Stretch Marks (Striae)

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Stretch marks can be troublesome, fortunately there are options to improve their appearance. Microdermabrasion in combination with non-ablative lasers can help to move you in the right direction by stimulating collagen growth deeper into the second layer (dermis) of the skin. This non-surgical process involves a stacking method using microdermabrasion, NdYag laser, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), and Light Emitting Diode (LED) that work together to effectively smooth and tighten skin. It is a quick procedure without associated flaking or downtime; you can even have it done on your lunch hour. This combination technique works best if repeated four to six times.

Thermage is a non-surgical (no incision!) treatment that can tighten skin and stimulate your body to make healthier collagen—the building block that provides structure to your skin. The procedure uses radiofrequency technology called ThermaCool that has been clinically proven to tighten and gently lift skin to smooth out wrinkles and renew facial contours. Fast and easy, Thermage requires no downtime from normal activities. Now approved by the FDA for improving cellulite. In only one treatment, patients report smoothing of dimples with lasting results. Tighten and lift without surgery, injections, or downtime. Topical creams can be effective in improving stretch marks.

Topical creams such as Dr. Michelle Copeland’s Rewind Age- Defying Cream contains advanced anti-aging ingredients, as well as a unique blend of anti-wrinkle antioxidant compounds. The cream tightens and smoothes skin by increasing collagen and hyaluronic acid production, resulting in firmer, more youthful skin within four to six weeks.

Michelle Copeland, MD, DMD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Nothing gets rid of stretch marks

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The huge number of posts on this indicate that if there WERE something that could get rid of stretch marks, we would all be offering it.  Microderm only sands off the outer layer of skin, stretch marks are a split of the dep elastic layers so microderm has no role here.  IPL lasers can lighten them but won't remove them.

Microdermabrasion CANNOT improve Stretch Marks (Striae)

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Stretch marks are full thickness cracks through the skin which are filled with scar tissue. There is NO non-surgical technique that can improve them short of surgical removal. Microdermabrasion is a very superficial sanding of the top layers of the Epidermis. As such it will have NO effect on the appearance of stretch marks.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis 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.