With celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and Kylie Jenner openly flaunting their stretch marks on social media – it is clear that nobody is immune from these natural yet pesky lines.
Often appearing as white, red, purple, and brown streaks on the upper arms, tummy, back, and thighs – stretch marks are largely caused by genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors.
You can then narrow it down further to the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers that stretch and snap during rapid weight gain and weight loss. This is why stretch marks often appear during puberty and pregnancy, where the body is unable to adjust and adapt quick enough to accommodate the stretching of the skin – causing tears in the tissues that we later see as stretch marks.
Given that collagen and elastin are the vital building blocks of our skin – the weakening of the bonds between them gives rise to flat, pink or reddish streaks on the skin that gradually turns into depressed, white, and scar-like streaks.
In general, red or pink stretch marks are easier to treat than ones that have faded into silver or white scars – which signify that they are much older.
The treatment options are endless..
The goal of any stretch mark removal treatment is to boost collagen and elastin levels, alleviate any redness, swelling, or inflammation, and improve the overall texture of the skin.
Today, there are a plethora of well-meaning treatments available to expecting mothers, although most of them aren’t effective. Despite touting the ability to completely remove stretch marks after several applications, there is insufficient evidence to support the claims of most topical treatments including shea butter and bitter almond oil.
A 2012 study comparing topical treatments with active ingredients and no treatment at all found that there were no significant differences or improvements of stretch marks between the groups.
Given that stretch marks occur in the dermis of the skin, this means that topical treatments simply won’t be sufficient enough to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin and produce any remarkable effects.
However, retinoid-based (a vitamin A derivative) cream is a popular acne treatment that has been shown to be effective in speeding up cell turnover and stimulating collagen growth to improve stretch marks. The only caveat is that it is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding ladies as it can cause birth defects in unborn babies.
At best, topical treatments are valuable in preventing or reducing the length, width, and redness of existing, early stretch marks. Although there are several other treatments such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and micro-needling that you can easily access in a dermatology clinic – there needs to be a more powerful solution to deal with the older, white stretch marks.
But laser treatments are the most effective for all types of stretch marks
If all else fails, scheduling a series of laser treatments with a professional dermatologist that offers a range of lasers including pulsed dye and fractional lasers is the next best step.
Pulsed dye lasers work best for red or pink stretch marks as they not only promote collagen synthesis, but also directly target blood vessels and hemoglobin in the skin to lighten stretch marks.
The Vbeam Perfecta and Q-switch Nd:YAG is our choice of pulsed dye laser, where Vbeam has long been proven effective in removing red birthmarks, acne scars, and even hyperpigmentation. For older stretch marks that have turned brownish due to hyperpigmentation, the Q-switch Nd:YAG laser works best!
On the other hand, fractional lasers come in ablative and non-ablative forms – both of which are commonly used to stimulate collagen production and resurface the skin. Ablative lasers can be more harsh on the skin and often involves a longer downtime as they strip away the entire epidermis and heat the deeper layers of the skin. However, ablative lasers including the fractional CO2 laser is useful in treating stubborn, older stretch marks.
In order to minimize the downtime and damage done to the surrounding skin, our doctors like to use non-ablative fractional lasers such as the Fraxel Dual – which is backed by multiple studies in its consistency and effectiveness.
On average, patients will need just 3 – 5 treatments in order to see a noticeable improvement. For maximum results, look for a doctor who utilizes a combination approach to target varying features of your stretch marks. When done with a trained and experienced doctor, you will be able to fade your stretch marks by as much as 75%!
Since the skin on the body tends to heal much slower, this means they are more prone to redness, irritation, and pigmentation. Making sure that your doctor only uses the most advanced laser technologies that features highly-refined beams can minimize such risks.
Start from your skincare routine
The truth is: nobody is immune from stretch marks.
The best way to treat stretch marks is to prevent them – while it is impossible to change your genetic predisposition to stretch marks, there are many steps that you can take in an effort to build up a strong “scaffolding” structure within your skin that will be able to rebound from the stress of any major physical changes in your body.
The key is to control your weight: having a nutrient-rich diet and exercising regularly is the best way to not only keep off the weight, but also keep your mind and stretch marks in check! Also ensure that you stay hydrated and moisturize your skin daily to boost your skin’s elasticity, hydration, and blood circulation levels.
Although some stretch marks eventually fade – seeking help from a dermatologist is always a viable option for more stubborn stretch marks.
Is it possible to remove stretch marks? The answer is YES!
Although it is possible to improve the appearance of your stretch marks and fade it to a large degree, it is not feasible to expect that it will completely disappear for good. However, with early treatment and the use of advanced laser technologies, fading unsightly stretch marks is comfortable, faster, and much more effective!
At The Clifford Clinic, we currently offer one of the best stretch mark removal treatments in Singapore that utilizes a series of powerful lasers such as the Vbeam, Q-switch Nd:YAG, fractional CO2, and Fraxel Dual lasers.
Starting with a thorough assessment of your physical health and skin condition, our highly-trained and experienced doctors will then determine the age and extent of your stretch marks in order to customize a treatment plan for you that maximizes your results!
In addition, our doctors typically recommend using a combination treatment approach that utilizes 2 – 3 laser devices or micro-needling in a single treatment in order to help you achieve faster and better results!
If you are ready to improve your stretch marks – book a consultation with us today!