Everything You Need to Know About Laser Stretch Mark Removal
Having visible stretch marks can be quite an annoyance for some, resulting in one feeling less comfortable in their skin. These markings can often be traumatic no matter where they are on the body ranging from different sizes and color.
While there are many adverse removal treatments out there that promise instant results, many of them don’t always work, ultimately leaving one feeling hopeless and frustrated.
Fortunately, there is a new laser technology known as laser resurfacing that promises the best of results in a short amount of time.
As you continue reading you will get to know more about stretch marks and how they get effectively removed through laser treatments. Let’s get started!
What are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are known as scars that appear as streaks on the skin, which often range in pink, reddish or purplish tones. These marks are often present on various parts of the body like the breasts, upper arms, thighs, buttocks, and stomach. Stretch marks are more common in women that are pregnant or those who experience rapid weight gain from diet or hormonal changes.
Although unattractive in appearance, stretch marks should not cause concern as they provide no physical threat to your health, and in some cases, can fade naturally on their own over time.
However, stretch marks appearing all over the body can be a sign of a disease condition such as Cushing’s syndrome or another adrenal gland disease. In terms of treating stretch marks, various over-the-counter treatments can reduce and fade the appearance of stretch marks, but these treatments won’t entirely remove them.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
The cause of stretch marks is due to the skin being stretched beyond the breaking point, resulting in thin pink or red lines over specific areas of the body. Slowly, the elastic layers of collagen and the middle layer of the skin where stretch marks occur, called the dermis, will gradually begin to breakdown. The damage triggers the dermal tissue to become inflamed which may cause micro-bleeding and the formation of scar tissue.
Because of this reaction, rough, irregular reddish lines begin to form on the top layer of skin.
As the middle layer of skin begins to stretch, the epidermis or the outer layer of skin is forced to stretch, eventually becoming transparent in color. As time goes on, the stretch marks that formed from the middle layer of the skin begins to protrude through the outer layer. As the inflammation and bleeding heal, scar tissue begins to form, resulting in a stretch mark.
In many cases, the pinky red stretch marks will gradually fade over time into a paler shade as the scar tissue loses its supply of blood. Because cells that create pigment are found within the epidermis and because the healthy skin has split open to reveal the underlying stretch mark scar which has no pigment, it will result in a stretch mark that is lighter in the shade than that of natural skin tone.
How Laser Stretch Mark Removal Works
Because stretch marks come in different variations, they can sometimes be complicated to treat. Whenever a patient decides to go down the route of laser treatments for stretch marks, they get paired with specifically customized treatments used to remove the type of stretch mark they have.
Usually, it’s required to undergo 3-4 different laser treatments per session, as well as a variety of non-laser modalities such as Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT) with Physiological Regulating Medicine (PRM) formulations, and hyperbaric oxygen treatments.
During the procedure, every stretch mark is individually targeted with the laser to treat it precisely.
Next, a technician will administer a color blending laser treatment that causes the “turn-over” of excess melanin within the skin that may still be present inside the stretch mark. This evens out the coloration of the mark, blending it with the surrounding skin.
Removal of Redness
Some stretch marks can appear a vibrant red due to excess vascularization. Different laser technology is required for this step to target the microvasculature to ensure the appearance of redness fades away.
Stimulation of Collagen
The next step involves a process to stimulate and produce new collagen with an intense collagen treatment to fill in the stretch mark from the inside out. The treatment targets older deteriorated collagen fibers that are held deep inside the dermis that is beyond repair to accelerate its removal through your body’s natural process. The less damaged collagen will then be remodeled into new, healthy, younger collagen.
Additional treatments may be required to target fibroblast cells throughout the skin’s dermis, stimulating them to produce amplified quantities of new, young and healthy collagen. This process requires up to 2-3 different lasers.
Smoothing of the Skin
The last and final step of the stretch mark removal treatment is smoothing out the surface of the scar with what’s known as an epidermal resurfacing laser (a laser peel). This process removes a precise amount of the upper layers of the epidermis (the dead cells on the top layer), along with its imperfections, discolorations, fine wrinkles and roughness.
The Process of Laser Stretch Mark Removal
Besides having stretch marks related to pregnancy or dietary and hormonal reasons, there are many other reasons why a person would consider undergoing stretch mark removal treatments. These reasons may include:
- Previous surgeries such as cosmetic surgery or other necessary surgeries that have left significant scarring on the body.
- Traumatic scarring related to burns or accidents.
- Physiological scars that are related to acne scarring or and stretch marks that make one feel physically uncomfortable.
It’s essential for patients to understand that stretch marks are unique, and each is an anomaly. Meaning, not only do the outcomes of treatments vary from patient to patient but even on the same patient, two stretch marks in the same area but are slightly away from each other might treat differently from each other as they go through stages of remodeling and healing.
The Process is Natural
The entire process of laser stretch mark removal is a natural one. That is because the regenerative mechanisms inherent in a person’s skin is stimulated then allowed time for the skin to heal naturally. After, the remodeling of the stretch marks begins to generate newer tissue. During this process, the technician will observe how the skin has been responding to the treatment. If everything seems to be reacting well, the procedure will proceed continuously with the customized protocol to achieve the maximal regeneration that the skin is capable of.
After the Treatment
After you have had your first treatment, the stretch marks may appear worse than they did previously. That is a regular occurrence that tends to happen. The stretch marks appearance will begin to improve after they heal over time. The marks are likely to be red and swollen, and in some skin types, irregular pigmentation called “post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation” is a common occurrence, which can be minimized by using a steroid cream provided by the specialist to help resolve it after the visible stretch marks have been treated. As you continue with treatments, the stretch marks will begin to blend back into the surrounding skin progressively and become less and less noticeable.
Multiple Treatments May be Needed
While some stretch marks resolve quicker than others in as little as three laser treatments, the process may take longer ranging from 3 to 5 to 8 treatment sessions to remove the appearance of marks considerably. Some laser cosmetic boutiques may offer you a set of treatments they feel will be enough to remove all the stretch marks.
How Safe are Stretch Mark Laser Treatments?
Although it can feel overwhelming to undergo a laser stretch mark removal treatment, the truth is, if a qualified doctor or technician provides them, then you shouldn’t be worried. While there are risks when undergoing laser treatments, they remain to be safe with virtually no “downtime” and almost no chance of any permanent unwanted side effects.
The Cost of Laser Stretch Mark Removal
According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS), skin resurfacing treatments (laser stretch mark removal) can range at a cost between $500 to $8,900.
On Average, each ablative laser treatment costs around $2,681. In terms of non-ablative laser treatments, the cost of those can range up to $1,410 each on average, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
Additionally, there can be other hidden costs outside of these estimated provider fees. The total cost of the procedure could also depend on:
- Office fees
However, there is good news! In terms of time, each treatment can be relatively quick. Ablative lasers can take about an hour and a half, while the non-ablative treatments can be performed in as little as 30 minutes at a time.
As mentioned above, providers may set a client up with a set of customizable laser treatments that may alter the price and ultimately make the procedure cheaper.