I have Fitzpatrick skin type IV and have old white stretch marks on my body. What is the best treatment for me? Is microdermabrasion a suitable treatment for me?
Stretch Mark Treatment for Dark Skin Types?
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Doctor Answers 5
It depends on what your concerns are.
Microdermabrasion can help improve the texture irregularities of scars, but cannot improve the white discoloration.
You might want to consult a reputable medical tattooing/permanent makeup facility that can color-match skin colors with tattoo pigments. The facility should use pure, medical-grade iron oxide pigments and sterile tools and techniques. They should be able to discuss with you the possible complications of camouflage tattooing including allergic reactions and either have some experience preventing and managing such complications or at least be able to address these concerns. I have seen some great aesthetic results, but you need to find practitioners who know what they're doing.
Stretch mark treatment
I have had success in improving the appearance of stretch marks with a combination treatment of microdermabrasion performed monthly and tretinoin cream applied daily. Avoid laser treatments as they may only add to the problem by causing hyperpigmentation.
Stretch mark in African American Skin
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.
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There really are no good treatments for stretchmarks. The skin tightening lasers don't seem to help, and the only thing that can be offered in light skinned patients is to lighten the redder marks with IPL.
Beware the Snake Oil salesman
Stretch marks are one of unfortunate cosmetic difficulties where marketing has been unleashed on uninformed consumers. Because these marks represent areas with the deeper connective portions of the skin have been permanently damaged, there are no creams or ointments, or other treatments for that matter that can make them go away.
Lots of claims are made with varying concoctions of collagen, Vitamin C, etc., but nothing has been substantiated. If the stretch marks are in an area of skin that can be excised, such as the lower abdomen after pregnancy, surgery may be an option. But here again you will be trading the stretch marks for a scar, though you may also gain a flatter tummy. As for microdermabrasion, you will risk more pigmentation problems in areas of your skin that get treated, and this can make everything worse... sorry!
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.