Around 98% of women have stretch marks somewhere on their body.
No, you didn’t read that wrong – a huge proportion of the female population have stretch marks or striae, as they are correctly called.
Not so long ago, there wasn’t much that you could do to treat stretch marks.
Happily, times have changed and there are now three different options to tackle this unpopular skin issue (and they really do work).
What are stretch marks?
Many people think they’re in the minority with stretch marks, but as the statistics have shown, this simply isn’t the case. Striae occur whenever the skin is stretched to the point where the natural elasticity can’t cope, and the underlying structures become distorted.
Common causes include:
- Weight gain
- Muscle bulking regimes
- Growing during puberty
Stretch marks can’t be removed, but there are now ways to minimise their appearance substantially.
Pulsed Dye laser
The most effective time to treat them is when they are new and purpley red in colour. At this point, we can use a Pulsed Dye laser on a low dose.
This heals the lesions and boosts the collagen production underneath so the ‘dipping’ effect can be largely avoided. This laser is virtually painless, quick and easy.
Once the striae are already white and dipped it is more difficult, but not impossible, to boost the collagen. There are two choices of treatment depending on the severity of the problem and your preference.
This is a resurfacing device and is regularly used on facial skin for tightening, rejuvenation and treatment of acne scars.
However, it is possible to treat stretch marks with it as well. The laser ablates tiny fractions of skin and heats the dermis, which activates collagen production, lifts the dipped areas and pulls the edges closer together.
The drawback of this treatment is that the skin takes several days to calm down and can require dressings, so it isn’t easy to look after if you have an active life.
Fractional Radio Frequency
The newest, and in my opinion the most effective, treatment uses Fractional Radio Frequency. This uses a specially designed treatment head which passes radio waves through the skin in waves and at different levels.
The radio waves meet resistance which creates friction.This in turn creates heat which releases ‘heat shock proteins’ and shrinks collagen fibres to create newer, firmer collagen and decrease skin laxity.
Although you’ll be slightly sore for about 24 hours, this treatment doesn’t need dressings and you can resume normal life straight away (just no heavy gym sessions for a day or so).
You’ll need several sessions and you’ll start to notice results after months rather than days or weeks – which is why we take photos for comparison along the way.
So many women suffer from this skin condition and feel embarrassed by it, so it is good to know that we finally have treatment options that really work.
I think that Radio Frequency has a long way to go in the future but already it is an effective management system for rejuvenation, skin tightening and acne scars as well as stretch marks.