Stretch marks are bands of parallel lines of scar tissue running along your skin, of a different color and texture than your normal skin. They can range from bright pink and purple when new to light grey or silver as they fade somewhat. When you touch them, you might be able to feel either a small ridge or indentation, and they may, on occasion, feel itchy or sore.
Stretch marks can appear almost anywhere, but they’re most common on your stomach, thighs, breasts, upper arms, and buttocks. They don’t pose any medical danger; they’re essentially a cosmetic complaint. However, they may make you feel self-conscious enough that you want to have them removed.
At Jordan Valley Dermatology in South Jordan, Utah, Dr. Douglass W. Forsha deals with all manner of dermatologic complaints, and stretch marks are no exception. Here’s what he wants you to know about the condition and the treatments available to banish those eyesores forever — especially microneedling.
Stretch marks result from two events in your body: your skin stretches or shrinks past its normal elastic properties; and your adrenal glands produce an increased amount of the hormone cortisone. Having too much cortisone makes your skin lose its natural elasticity.
The major reasons for skin stretching include rapid weight gain or loss, growth spurts in teenagers, and pregnancy, where the body has to make room for the developing fetus.
Other causes include corticosteroid pills, creams, and lotions, which decrease the skin’s ability to stretch, and adrenal gland disorders including Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan’s syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, all of which increase the amount of cortisone in the body.
There are a number of treatments used to eliminate stretch marks, though none is without some risk, and none removes the marks completely. These include:
This cream works by restoring collagen, a protein that gives your skin its elastic properties. The cream works best on recent stretch marks — those that are still red or pink. You should be aware that the cream may cause skin irritation and isn’t suitable for pregnant women.
Pulsed dye laser therapy uses heat energy to promote the growth of collagen and elastin, the latter another protein that confers elasticity to skin tissue. It works best on newer stretch marks, but it can cause skin discoloration in darker-skinned individuals.
Fractional photothermolysis works in a similar fashion, but it targets smaller areas of the skin and therefore causes less skin damage.
This procedure involves polishing the skin with tiny crystals, clearing off the epidermis (top layer) and revealing new skin below. Side effects include skin redness, flaking, and peeling. Microdermabrasion works best on older stretch marks.
Microneedling, also called collagen induction therapy, involves creating small punctures in the skin with tiny sterilized needles. The small wounds cause your body to go into healing mode, making more collagen and elastin to repair the damage. In the process, it eliminates the stretch marks on the outer portion of your skin.
Microneedling has many benefits, not the least of which is that it’s less expensive than laser treatments. It also works better for people with darker skin tones since it doesn’t involve heat, which can change skin pigmentation.
At Jordan Valley Dermatology, we use the Eclipse MicroPen® to create controlled micro-injuries to the skin and thereby promote collagen and elastin production. The Eclipse MicroPen is the most advanced medical-grade automated microneedling device available.
The procedure takes about 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the treated area. Patients notice an immediate glow on their skin, with a visible reduction in the appearance of stretch marks over the course of the next several days and weeks. Improvements continue for up to six months after the treatment as healing and collagen production continues. Most people will require 4-6 treatments to see a major reduction in their marks.
Are you embarrassed by the colored lines squiggling over your body? Would you like to learn more about how microneedling can help? Give us a call to set up a consultation, or book your appointment online. Clear skin is within your grasp.