Stretch Mark Removal
Because stretch marks reside in the middle layer and top layers of the skin, many topical treatments are ineffective in eliminating them. They might fade the discoloration, but none will eliminate them. More effective treatments such as lasers, radio frequency and surgical removal can be used. Read more about those procedures here, starting with the least invasive and ending with the most invasive.
Removal With Radio Frequency
Less expensive than laser surgery, radio frequency is most effective on newer stretch marks. Radio frequency skin treatments can be used to treat stretch marks by heating the deeper layers of the skin to stimulate growth and tightening of the sin. It is a safe and low-pain procedure.
Radio frequency treatments can be performed in a physician’s office, and no anesthesia is required. Your physician might give you an oral over-the-counter analgesic to reduce any inflammation or discomfort that might occur. The procedure takes 20 minutes to one hour, depending on the areas to be treated.
The physician uses a hand-held device that uses radiofrequency or infrared light to heat the deep layers of skin. At the same time, the device cools the top layer of the skin to prevent burning. The procedure is often used to reduce wrinkles, although it is less effective than laser treatments and surgical removal.
Most patients return to regular activities immediately after treatment and report very little pain or side effects, although a little redness might appear at the treatment sites.
This procedure removes impurities from the skin’s topmost layers and stimulates collagen growth. It will not reach the deeper layers of skin where stretch mark damage reaches. Most experts agree that this is not an effective method for treating stretch marks.
Removal With Laser Surgery
Laser surgery to remove stretch marks is a newer treatment that is an effective way to reduce the appearance of striae, but it does not completely remove them. It is more effective when stretch marks are newer and still have some red or purple appearance. The older stretch marks are, the more difficult they are to remove.
Laser treatments leave the skin feeling raw for one to two weeks post treatment, and the skin might remain pink for another month or more. This procedure is more painful than radiofrequency, and some patients take two to three weeks to recover and return to normal life.
The physician might use a topical or local anesthetic to numb the area before use. The physician uses a hand-held device that targets specific areas on the skin. The lasers penetrate the skin and stimulate collage, which resurfaces the top layer. Treatments take 15 to 45 minutes, are performed in an out-patient clinic or doctor’s office, and results can be seen after one to five treatments.
Following treatments, patients might experience pain similar to a sunburn. They typically take a week to two weeks before returning to regular activities. Your physician will give you instructions for caring for your skin, which might include avoiding direct sunlight, moisturizing, using cold compresses and mild pain medications. Check with your doctor before self-prescribing. The more you follow your doctor’s advice, the better your results will be!
Surgical Removal Methods
The most effective method for eliminating stretch marks is to surgically remove them during breast augmentation, tummy tuck or lower body lifts. During these procedures, excess skin and tissue might be excised, following which the remaining skin, underlying tissues and muscles are pulled tighter and sutured together.
Tummy tucks and breast augmentations are among the five most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States. Most are performed as outpatient procedures under general anesthesia. The recovery time is much longer and can take several months to a year to fully see results.
During your initial consultation, your surgeon will discuss what options best suit you, and whether stretch marks are located in areas that can be excised during these procedures. He or she will assess if you are a good candidate for the procedure and give you instructions on how to prepare your body and your home for this procedure.
Following your surgeon’s advice will help you ensure the best results from your surgery.
Surgical procedures come with risks, including infection, swelling, bleeding, bruising and pain. The recovery time for surgical treatment of stretch marks is much longer than the non-surgical methods. Plan to miss one to two weeks of work and refrain from lifting heavy objects and vigorous exercise for several weeks.
Patients who have had tummy tucks, breast augmentation and lower body lifts report high satisfaction rates, despite the longer recovery time, higher costs and more pain.
Interested in Stretch Mark Treatment Cost?
Visit our Costs page to learn about fees for the various stretch mark treatments, and how some patients finance their procedures to make them more affordable.