Stretch marks, or ‘striae distensae’, are long scars with underlying thinning of the skin that form when the skin is overly stretched. Pregnancy, rapid weight change and hormonal changes are the most common causes of this epidermal atrophy, although other medical conditions or oral medications can cause stretch marks to form as well. The appearance of stretch marks is thought to be related to intradermal tears in collagen.
Stretch marks are most likely to appear on areas of the body where skin is under tension, such as the abdomen, breasts, thighs, hips, buttocks, upper arms, underarms, and back.
Stretch marks typically start out as a red or purple color (striae rubrae), and then fade to white atrophic lesions (striae albae). It is beneficial to seek out cosmetic treatment as early as possible with stretch marks first form to re-stimulate collagen production in the dermis and improve the discolored appearance.
Various treatments include:
- Topical retinoid medications
- Phototherapy including IPL, pulsed dye lasers, Nd:YAG Laser
- Fractional lasers including Fraxel
- Radiofrequency and micro-needling devices including SecretRF, Intensif RF or Morpheus RF