Q: Dr. Eppley, I have stretch marks covering most of the center of my abdomen. They are about two years old. I am curious about the pricing of your fractional CO2 laser resurfacing as well as recommendations for the best type of treatment or any other suggestions.
A: When it comes to treating stretch marks, there are no completely effective strategies. They may be able to be reduced but can never be completed eliminated. Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing, while effective for facial skin wrinkle reduction and skin rejuvenation, has not shown a similar profound effect on stretch marks. The best way to determine if it would have any beneficial effect would be to do treat a small area first (test patch) before embarking on treating the whole area.
Dr. Barry Eppley
Q: Dr. Eppley, I am 5’ 9” tall and fairly skinny. I have no extra fat but some loose skin from my three pregnancies. While I am not crazy about the loose skin, what bothers me the most are the many stretch marks that I have. They are around my belly button and lower as well as out onto my hips. The stretch marks on my hips are the worst, being wider, redder and more noticeable than those on my stomach. Therefore I would like to get rid of them the most.most noticeable, so I would love to get rid of those at least. I was hoping to get rid of most stretch marks and extra skin with a tummy tuck but I don’t want to go through with it if it does not provide a major improvement in my unsightly stretch marks.
A: The main benefits of tummy tuck surgery is the removal of extra skin and fat and the tightening effect of the stomach that it provides. Any improvement in associated stretch marks from pregnancy is a secondary benefit that is largely coincidental. The stretch marks that will be removed is what lies within the outline of the tummy tuck excisional pattern. Your surgeon can mark that out for you so you can see exactly what stretch marks will be removed. Stretch marks around the excisional pattern, particularly above the belly button, will shift position to a lower location below the new belly button for many of them. Stretch marks on the hip, which is largely outside the zone of the tummy tuck cutout will not be removed/improved.
Dr. Barry Eppley
Q: I was wondering if you had any procedures that would reduce severe stretch marks. I just had a baby and my baby tummy is very loose and I have really bad stretch marks.
A: Stretch marks are a very common skin deformity that results from Ebook Creation Simplified tissue expansion(e.g., pregnancy, weight gain) followed by deflation thereafter. (e.g., delivery, weight loss) What stretch marks really represent is IRREVERSIBLE skin damage from partial tearing of the dermal component of the skin. The thicker collagen layers have been partially split due to the stretching of the skin. That is why when you run your fingers over them they feel rippled or indented over the stretch mark. There has been a loss of some of the skin’s thickness.
Why some women get them from pregnancy and others don’t is a result of numerous skin factors. These include their native thickness and elasticity of the skin and how much and how fast the skin was stretched. There probably is some merit to apply a topical emollient or moisturizer to the skin during the pregnancy process. Anything that can hydrate the collagen layers to allow it to stretch without deformation (irreversible breaking of the molecular bonds, like a broken spring) would be helpful.
Once the stretch marks exist, however, solving or eliminating them is virtually impossible. While many urban legends exist about ‘magical potions’ and patients who have completely gotten rid of them, there has never been any scientific or documented evidence that these often touted methods really work. It is simply not possible to thicken back up or repair the split dermis anymore than you can restore the tighten of a stretched out rubber band.
That being said, however, there are some treatments that may help reduce their final appearance if they are done early. Early means within less than 90 days after delivery or when they have appeared. The redness of the stretch mark can be reduced by pulsed light treatments (BBL) in my Indianapolis plastic surgery experience. Early treatment may help make the stretch mark do some collagen repair so it is less deep. The key, however, is EARLY treatment.
It is possible to lessen the appearance of new stretch marks if done early enough. In established stretch marks, there are no effective treatments. Stretch marks are not responsive to laser or skin resurfacing and any attempts to do so may result in a worse scar appearance.
Dr. Barry Eppley