Microdermabrasion is a popular technique used in the treatment of several skin problems, including stretch marks. The procedure can improve skin contour irregularities with significant improvement in early stretch marks. Microdermabrasion involves a device that blows crystals onto the skin, polishing the skin’s surface while a vacuum tube removes both the crystals and skin cells. The top layer of the skin is gently removed, stimulating growth of new elastic skin. Ten to twenty sessions of microdermabrasion may be required to provide significant improvement in stretch marks.
The use of lasers to diminish the appearance of stretch marks or in combination with other treatments can provide safe and effective reduction in the appearance of both early-onset and late-stage stretch marks. Many laser therapies require special measures for darker skin types, as pigmentary alterations are a major concern. Each case is unique and advice as to which form of laser treatment would be suitable for each patient is required. Laser therapies work by using wavelengths of light to stimulate the growth of collagen, elastin or melanin production in the skin. Laser therapies require a course of multiple treatments resulting in significant cost to the patient.
For early stretch marks, pulsed dye lasers have demonstrated effective results. The dilated blood vessels marked at the early stage of stretch mark formation render them a good candidate for pulsed-dye laser treatment. This laser increases the amount of collagen in the extracellular matrix which improves the appearance of stretch marks.
Fractional photothermolysis is a newer resurfacing laser technique which has proven effective in treatment of older stretch marks. Using scattered pulses of light, a fraction of the scar is targeted by the laser over the course of several treatments, creating microscopic wounds. The body responds to each treatment by producing new collagen. This laser treatment also allows normal skin in the surrounding area to assist in advancing the healing process. Studies on fractional laser resurfacing have demonstrated an increase in collagen and elastin deposition in the dermis. Promising results can be achieved with three to five treatments sessions.