Red Stretch Marks
Stretch Mark Removal
Stretch marks, for many people—especially women—these red (or purple, or brown, or white) lines have long been a source of insecurity about, and dissatisfaction with, the body. They appear one day (sometimes seemingly out of nowhere!), and that’s it: they’re there to stay. At least, that’s how things used to be. Now, though, with the advent of technologies like Vbeam laser treatment, you have the means to remove the red, unsightly stretch marks that are making you unhappy with the way you look—and to get back to the skin you want to have.
Stretch Mark before & after* (treated with Vbeam laser):
Stretch marks are most commonly found on the abdomen, buttocks, hips, breasts, and thighs. They initially appear as red, purple, pink, or brownish lines, and then eventually fade to a white or silvery color. The earlier you treat them, the better: early treatment means limiting the amount of damage cause to your skin, which in turn means they are easier to get rid of. This is the best time to pursue laser treatment for your stretch marks. You will experience the most improvement from this type of stretch mark removal—and probably with a fewer number of treatments—if you seek it out before your red stretch marks fade to white and become more deeply ingrained in your skin. Once they turn white, they can still be laser-treated, but they do not respond as readily to treatment.
STRETCH MARK CAUSES
Stretch marks (also known as striae) are caused by damage to the collagen under your skin, which usually occurs when you rapidly gain or lose fat or muscle. This is common during pregnancy and during teenage years, due to the rapid growth and hormonal fluctuation that takes place during that time—in fact, at least 35 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys develop stretch marks at some point during puberty. Obesity and weight-lifting are also frequently the source of stretch marks. People with higher levels of melatonin in their skin are less prone to developing stretch marks. Also, although it’s unclear exactly why, genetics play a factor in whether or not you’re likely to develop them, too—if the generations of your family that came before you suffered from stretch marks, the likelihood is that you will as well.
The most effective means of treating stretch marks is with laser surgery. Creams can help reduce the risk of scarring, but lasers are the best technique for stretch mark removal. Lasers like the Vbeam laser that Dr. Rajagopal employs for red stretch mark treatments actually break down the swollen blood vessels underneath the skin that make red stretch marks visible, while simultaneously stimulating skin cell and collagen growth. The laser strips away the damaged skin tissue, closes up the broken blood vessels that are causing redness, and re-bonds the fibers of the underlying skin. This takes away your stretch marks’ redness and reduces their inflammation, noticeably reducing their visibility. Laser treatment is not recommended if you have a dark skin tone, because you run the risk of permanently discoloring the area being treated.
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH LASER TREATMENT
Treatment usually requires between three and six sessions, but this can vary depending on the number and size of your stretch marks. Each individual session can last anywhere between five minutes and an hour or more. You may experience some moderate discomfort during the procedure—most patients report a mild burning or tingling sensation—but it is not a painful treatment.
One of the greatest benefits of laser treatment is that there is no downtime afterward—you can get back to normal right away. The only residual effects you will likely experience after laser-treating your red stretch marks are some mild redness (for an hour or two) and some swelling (usually for around two to six hours after the procedure, but possibly for up to four days). You may also develop some purpura—minor bruising caused by the laser—which can take up to seven days to disappear.
If you feel self-conscious about your stretch marks, laser treatment is the easiest and most effective way to reduce their visibility. If you’re interested in pursuing laser treatment for your stretch mark removal, or wish to learn more about the procedure, contact the San Francisco Plastic Surgery & Laser Center at 415-392-3333. Our address is 490 Post Street, Suite 430, in downtown San Francisco.