Stretch marks (striae) are a form of scar that forms as a result of skin stretching beyond its capacity. Specifically, tearing occurs at the dermis. Stretch marks can form during pregnancy, especially at the third trimester. Affected areas usually involve the abdomen but also the breasts, thighs and buttocks at times. Weight gain can also cause stretch marks and can involve the thighs, upper arms and buttocks. Also, weight lifters who rapidly build muscle mass can develop stretch marks in areas like the anterior shoulders.
During the initial phase of stretch mark development, lesions appear reddish or purple and are slightly raised. Over time, they decrease in size and lose pigmentation. When mature, they appear hypopigmented.
Why do you get stretch marks?
Although not fully understood, it is believed that overstretching at the skin dermis causes collagen and elastin fibers to rupture, resulting in scars (stretch marks) during the healing process. The hormone, cortisone may also have a role. An increase in cortisone levels can increase stretch marks by reducing skin pliability. It does this by inhibiting fibroblasts from producing collagen and elastin fibers, which keep rapidly growing skin taut.
Stretch mark treatment with MicroNeedling
With the use of microneedling, controlled micro-injury at the dermal level can result in stimulation of collagen production that can dramatically improve the appearance of stretch marks. Microneedling utilizes a pen-like medical device with very fine needles. Penetrating depths can be up to 2mm. A numbing cream is applied to the affected area of stretch marks and then the microneedling treatment is performed without any pain. Each treatment takes about 30 minutes in duration. There is minimal to no downtime with mild redness lasting for 1 day after treatment. Optimal results require 6 treatments spread apart by one month in between sessions. Although stretch marks (like any other scars) do not completely disappear, their visibility can be significantly minimized.