MANHATTAN AND NEW YORK, NEW YORK — For some men and women, stretch marks are worn proudly; a badge of motherhood or dedicated weight training. However, for the majority of women – and men – they are an eyesore and constant reminder that they are no longer that slim teen they used to be.
For these people, the quest to find a magic potion that will fade their red or silvery stripes to pretty porcelain is costly, time consuming and in fact, a waste since there is no such over-the-counter product.
Stretch marks are the result of tears in the dermis caused by underlying tissues (fat and muscle) growing more rapidly than the outer skin. These tears are common in men and women and typically a result of the following changes:
- Weight gain (muscle or fat)
Common areas where these stripes appear include:
Because stretch marks can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, there is a huge market for creams that either prevent or treat stretch marks.
“There is no magic cream that will make stretch marks disappear and I personally find it upsetting that they make false promises since people waste valuable time and money hoping for a miracle that will never arrive,” says Dr. Elliot Heller, who performs male breast reduction and liposuction in New York. “What’s worse is that as time passes, stretch marks become even more difficult to treat. So while people are trying to save money waiting for their creams to deliver they are – in essence – making them more difficult to resolve.”
When stretch marks first appear, they are typically red or purple in color and known as striae rubra. As their elastin fibers thicken, they begin to fade to a silvery white color and are called striae alba. Many patients confuse this color change as a positive fading brought on by creams.
On the subject of prevention, if your friend rubbed peanut butter on her stomach throughout her pregnancy and never got the first stretch mark, you might want to do some research before you start rubbing everything in your pantry on your growing belly. You see, stretch mark sufferers are often genetically predisposed to have them.
“If your mother had stretch marks, you will probably get them as well,” says Dr. Heller who also performs breast augmentation in NY.
The best way to prevent stretch marks or reduce the severity of those that will occur is to remain in good health and attempt to gain weight slowly so that your skin has the opportunity to adjust. This is easier said than done for women who are pregnant but is a feasible task for those who are attempting to gain weight for cosmetic reasons.
So how do you make stretch marks disappear, you ask?
“The truth is, it’s nearly impossible to make stretch marks disappear completely, even with the state-of-the-art technology we have available to us today,” says Dr. Heller. “However, the improvement we are able to achieve is still significant and pleasing.”
Effective treatments include:
- Acid peels
- Fractional lasers
- IPL lasers
What makes these procedures effective for treating these scars is their ability to renew the outer layer of skin, reduce redness and repair or boost the collagen layer. Fractional lasers such as the Fraxel provide the greatest improvement by removing tiny cylinders of tissue which promotes rapid healing that reveals fresh skin and jumpstarts collagen production. An added bonus of Fraxel treatment is that it tightens the skin since removing tiny cylinders of skin reduces its surface area.
These treatments perform best when used in a series and are again, most effective during the striae rubra stage although still very effective in treating older stretch marks.
If you have any questions as to which treatment is best for you or when you should initiate treatment – maybe you plan to have more children or continue bodybuilding – contact an experienced cosmetic surgeon at Allure Plastic Surgery for a free initial consultation.