Feel shy to wear revealing party dresses fearing show of the vertical stria on your body? Is wearing a two- piece swim wear a distant dream for you because of the dermal lines on your arms, abdomen and thigh? These notorious striae are called as stretch marks which are painless but cause mental distress and low self esteem. Even males experience these stretch marks after heavy weight loss and they are also at constant lookout for treatment.
Stretch marks are a type of scars which appear as the indented streaks on the skin, most common sites being abdomen, chest, thigh, breast, axilla, upper hands etc. They vary in color from colorless to angry red looking to purple. The marks are perpendicular to the direction of skin tension. These are a common point of worry for both males and females, whether post excessive weight loss or after delivery of baby post pregnancy. They cause purely aesthetic concern and cause no physical problem.
Though there is no treatment which completely dissolves or erases these striae but they usually fade away after undergoing various treatment options. Infact, till recently, we had only invasive treatment – which was surgical excision of the area with striae eg abdominoplasty, but with the invention of various non invasive measures, treatment plan has been simplified a lot and there is better patient acceptability.
Let us first understand what causes formation of stretch marks.
Striae are formed due to rapid stretching of dermis layer leading to break in collagen and elastin fibers. Epidermis layer remains intact, hence damaged collagen appears as vertical streaks through it. The less the amount of collagen on the skin you have, the higher the chances of developing stretch marks.
The initial striae rubrae are slightly raised, itchy, pink or violaceous linear marks due to active inflammation, which fade over months to years and are replaced by scar tissue. This produces a thinned epidermis, loss of dermal elastin, and a replacement of the dermis by abnormally dense collagen fibres. The scarring is characteristically white or silvery in appearance, hypopigmented, atrophic, wrinkled scars and is known as striae albae.
Usually the stretch marks are 1- 10 mm wide and several centimetres long . Generally,those which are caused by use of corticosteroid or Cushing syndrome are larger and wider and may involve other regions, including the face.
Stretch marks seem to be caused by a stretching of the skin due to sudden growth or weight gain. The severity of stretch marks is affected by several factors, which also includes your genetic tendency, degree of stress on the skin and cortisone level.
Major causes can be penned down as follows :
Sudden weight gain eg pregnancy in second and third trimester, puberty spurt or rapid muscle growth as in muscle training.
Sudden weight loss as in obesity.
Cushing syndrome ( due to cortisol hormone ).
Exogenous topical or systemic corticosteroids ( reduce the amount of collagen in body ).
Various febrile illnesses.
Chronic liver disease.
The following factors put you to risk for stretch marks, namely :
Being a female.
Having a personal or family history of stretch marks.
Being pregnant, especially for younger women.
Being overweight or obese.
Rapidly gaining or losing weight.
Using corticosteroid medication.
There is no diagnostic test which can pick up stretch marks. Its diagnosis is typically based on an examination of your skin by our expert doctor and a review of your medical history.
Photograph is taken before deciding any treatment and afterwards, before and after each session, to note down improvement in appearance. Furthermore, it is important that these photographs need to be taken six and twelve months after the course of treatments.
Though genetics and skin type of a person cannot be changed, but few tips go a long way to help in prevention of these stretch marks.
You should keep your body hydration good.
Sun damage to the skin should be prevented.
Sudden weight gain or loss to be avoided.
Skin to be properly moisturized.
Regular massages increase blood flow to the skin and hence are promoted.
Hormonal imbalance to be detected early and treated accordingly.
The early you start stretch mark treatment, better are the results.
The aim of the treatment is to reduce redness, swelling and irritation in striae rubrae, and to increase collagen and elastin fiber production, improve hydration, and reduce inflammation in striae albae.
Treatment protocols are often decided depending upon the extent and stage of striae. A cocktail of treatment protocol is decided tailored to each individual patient.
Major treatment protocols available at our clinic are innumerated below, their detailing is usually explained once patient comes for personal consultation.
TOPICAL TREATMENT – Usually effective in early stages only, not effective on mature scars.
Tretinoin cream -It is usually useful in striae rubrae when used for long term. It may result in mild irritation, redness, and peeling. It is not recommended for application during pregnancy.
Hyaluronic acid containing cream.
Centella asiatica containing lotions.
Silicon gels and sheets.
CHEMICAL PEELS – These are chemicals used to remove top layers of damaged skin and encourage skin regeneration. Type and strength of chemicals used in the treatment varies depending on the extent of the stretch marks. It is usually a short 30 min procedure and multiple sittings are required for the same.
MICRODERMABRASION – This procedure exfoliates the outer layer of the skin and removes the dead top layer. It is often used in combination with other treatments.
LASER THERAPY – This is one of the popular non invasive method to remove the stretch marks using a pulses of laser light which helps in collagen remodelling. In striae rubra, usually pulse dye laser is used to decrease redness and inflammation whereas in striae alba, Fractional lasers (e.g., Erbium-YAG) are used which stimulate fibroblasts to produce collagen and elastin and can cause repigmentation.
PRP THERAPY – This is prepared from your own blood, separating and concentrating important growth factors and cellular ingredients which help in collagen remodelling and repair. This is simple and quick procedure but very effective.
It can be combined with microneedling to fasten results and rejuvenate both dermis and epidermis.
CARBOXY THERAPY – This is a quick and office break treatment which involves administration of gaseous CO2 into the subcutaneous tissues through a fine needle. This causes arterial vasodilatation, induces growth factor, helps in neo collagen and microvessel synthesis, lipolysis etc. Multiple sessions help in fading away of striae.
MICRONEEDLING RADIOFREQUENCY – These energy devices emit high-frequency alternating electric current producing dermal heat. Microneedling Radiofrequency devices are used to tighten the dermis, reduce wrinkles, and improve cellulite. Neocollagenesis, neoelastogenesis, and increased ground substances (proteoglycans) are promoted by his treatment.
RED LIGHT THERAPY – This uses infra red light to treat stretch marks. It penetrates deep into the skin to increase blood flow and help in regeneration of skin cells by stimulating collagen and elastin fibers.
It is important to realize that treatment will not erase the stretch marks completely but fade them away by significant amount. Prior counselling thus is important. Multiple sessions of different treatment are required and satisfactory results take long time to show up. Of course you would not be compelled to resist wearing party cocktail dress anymore after the treatment.
Team of highly qualified doctors- Dr Deepti Asthana is an internationally trained gynae cosmetic surgeon whereas Dr Ashish Khare is an experienced plastic and cosmetic surgeon.
Well trained staff.
Clinic equipped with latest state of the art technology and equipment .
All safety measures for COVID 19 are being followed:
Clinic is being sanitized daily.
Screening of medical staff and patients at the entrance.
Social distancing being strictly followed.
Surgeons are equipped with recommended PPE kits.