Finally, a Real Remedy for Stretch Marks

Finally, a Real Remedy for Stretch Marks: Dermatology Specialist Joshua Fox, MD, Offers Tips for Understanding the New Laser Treatments for Stretch Marks




stretch-markThey’re hardly a serious disease, but those ugly little ridges that dermatologists call striae distensae (and the rest of us call stretch marks) are a serious concern for many women, especially when summer fashions leave more skin exposed. According to Joshua A. Fox, MD, founder and medical director of NY and NJ-based Advanced Dermatology PC., and a leader in treating stretch marks with lasers “previously, they were all but incurable. Almost 20 years ago we were the first to innovate a laser treatment for stretch marks which generated attention from all the major TV channels including CBS, WABC and CNN. Now, with the arrival of today’s new laser treatments, we have even better solutions for treating stretch marks to offer to our patients.”

Explaining Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are scar-like bands that are formed when the skin is stretched beyond its limits in order to accommodate a sudden increase in body size—because of pregnancy, body building, or weight gain, for example—which creates small tears in the skin. Stretch marks can also occur because of hormonal changes (the kind that come with pregnancy and puberty as well as from external agents like hormone replacement therapy and steroidal drugs). Although they can pop up almost anywhere, stretch marks are most likely to occur in areas where the body stores its extra fat, such as the belly, breasts, hips, and thighs (an exception to this rule would be in body builders, who typically get stretch marks in the skin around the bigger muscles, like the biceps). When they’re newly formed, stretch marks look red and shiny, but after a few months will turn a whitish color and often become slightly indented or depressed. While they do become less noticeable over time, once they’re formed, stretch marks are almost always here to stay.

“Even though stretch marks are visible on the skin’s surface, they’re actually formed in the dermis, which is the skin’s middle layer,” says Dr. Fox. That little detail makes them notoriously tough to treat, as topical agents simply can’t penetrate past the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin. “Up until recently, people didn’t have many options,” Dr. Fox says. Prescription medicines like tretinoin (Retin-A) might help a little with the newer marks, but older marks were essentially impervious to creams. “You could waste your money on creams and lotions, have an operation like a tummy tuck, or just live with them.”

But not anymore. Today, doctors can treat stretch marks—even the old ones—with lasers, and achieve very real major improvements after only a few treatments.

Tips for Understanding Pulsed Dye Laser for Treating Stretch Marks

Dr. Fox was the first to report use of a pulsed dye laser to treat stretch marks, and recently demonstrated success in his own research on more than 300 patients. “Our research, along with other published studies, has shown that the pulsed dye laser can be really effective against stretch marks,” he says. “We found that the laser could improve the discoloration and reduce the size and depth of stretch marks and improve the skin’s elasticity by about 50-65 percent, which is a big improvement.” Other research has confirmed these findings, he adds. For example, one study found that treatments combining the laser with a device that administers radiofrequency waves produced measureable improvements in roughly 90 percent of patients tested.

Other lasers are also helpful in treating stretch marks without downtime. One recent study found significant improvement in the light color of stretch marks with the Excimer Laser. We have also found the Fractionated 1550 Fraxel to be quite helpful in lightening up the scar tissue and making stretch marks appear less. All these lasers require no downtime.

The pulsed dye laser administers short bursts (or pulses) of light that specifically target reddish areas in the skin and/or the collagen, and therefore has been used for many years to treat things like enlarged blood vessels, rosacea, and red birthmarks. Moreover, in addition to its ability to treat these conditions, the pulsed dye laser also works to increase both collagen and elastin, two key proteins in the skin responsible for its structure and elasticity.

Dr. Fox notes that new stretch marks can often be significantly or dramatically improved in just one visit, while older marks typically require at least two or three treatments, spaced several weeks apart. Today’s lasers are much easier to handle than earlier models, as they produce much less bruising and almost no pain, just a mild snapping sensation. In addition, pulsed dye laser treatments involve no downtime: Patients can resume all regular activities right away—and get back into those shorts and swimsuits before the summer is out.

Treatments or Remedies to Reduce Fade or Rid Stretch Marks and Prevention


Treatments or Remedies to Reduce Fade or Rid Stretch Marks and Prevention

Stretch marks are caused when the skin is stretched, during pregnancy; this is due to rapid weight gain. Getting to the bottom of the stretch mark situation has become a major necessity, since about ninety percent of pregnant women can expect to develop stretch marks, according to industry experts.  Believe it or not, there is one positive about stretch marks, many pregnant women who get stretch marks during pregnancy, can often see their stretch marks fading away, naturally, after the birth of their baby. YEAH!

According to some doctors, to keep stretch marks to a minimum, having a healthy and regular exercise regime during pregnancy may help.  There are also several creams, such as hydroxy creams and topical Retina-A that can temporarily improve the appearance of some stretch marks.  But pregnant women should not use any of the prescription creams, without consulting a doctor.  Although creams may have a temporary effect on stretch marks, genetics seem to play the biggest role on whether or not a pregnant woman will get stretch marks.

There are, however, ways to try to get rid of stretch marks.  Dr. Joshua Fox is using lasers to fade stretch marks, he found that sometimes, the laser lessened the red scars.  The laser works by burning off the top layers of scarred skin, with very little pain and no bleeding.  Even though this form of laser treatment of stretch marks is not an industry standard, the technique is defiantly gaining in popularity.

If this procedure seems a bit to expensive or drastic, makeup, is still considered the fastest and most affordable method to hide (not get rid) of your stretch marks.  I have found that mixing two shades of foundation, that are the closes to your skin color, will have the most effect on hiding the dreadful stretch marks. (This secret was past on to me by a make up specialist).

There is makeup to cover the marks, lotions to soften them and even lasers to zap the stretch marks away.  But unfortunately, ladies, there is no sure fire way of getting rid of stretch marks, without the help of plastic surgery.

New Laser Technique Takes Aim To Make Stretch Marks Disappear


New Laser Technique Takes Aim To Make Stretch Marks Disappear

So you want to get rid of your stretch marks? (Who doesn’t?)
Dr. Joshua Fox in Roslyn, L.I., is one of a handful of doctors now using a laser procedure that just might erase those scar-like hollows. In fact, the dermatologist said he stumbled upon the treatment while fine-tuning his scar-removal technique. (more…)

Pulse Dye Laser Eliminates Stretch Marks


Pulse Dye Laser Eliminates Stretch Marks

The pulse-dye laser can be used in a standardized manner to reduce the size and discoloration of stretch marks (striae distensae) and increase the elasticity of the skin in most patients. Patients experienced approximately 65% improvement in elasticity and depression of stretch marks after treatment. The procedure is used on a small test site, to determine what fluence (amount of power delivered to the targeted area over time) to use, and then stretch marks over an entire abdomen or other area can be treated, usually in one sitting. Careful patient screening is necessary.

Stretch marks (striae distensae) are a common cosmetic skin problem seen after pregnancy, weight gain or when rapid growth spurt cause the skin to stretch too quickly. This rapid stretching creates irregular marks on the skin that can be shiny, pink, silver, red, or gray and/or indented. In women, stretch marks often occur during pregnancy or weight gain over the abdomen, thighs and breasts. In male body builders, striae can occur over the biceps or other enlarged muscle.

During the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery’s 24th Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass., Joshua L. Fox, M.D., indicated that he and Lance A. Barazani, M.D., have evaluated more than 300 patients whose stretch marks were treated with pulse-dye laser. The treatments varied in the amount of fluence used, based on small test treatments done on each patient. Pulse-dye laser treatment is known to increase the amount of collagen and elastin in the skin.

Classification System Established
Previously, Dr. Fox created a classification system for striae based on five components-color, surface texture, elasticity of the skin, depression and extent—each of which is graded on a four-point scale. This classification system allows for an objective measurement of striae for both physician and patient that can be repeated after treatment.

Patient Compliance and Expectations
According to Dr. Fox, the most important part of this treatment involves careful selection of patients. Patient evaluation and education is more important in treating striae than for other cosmetic procedures. Patients must have realistic expectations of outcome since striae may need several treatments separated by several weeks to obtain maximal response and they must also be willing to comply with instructions for preparation of the treatment site. Patients must also understand the need for a small test site procedure.

Performing a small test on one area of striae is key to success and reduction of side effects, Dr. Fox said. Using a test area helps identify patients who may incur pigment problems and also allow the physician to determine the amount of fluence needed for a given patient. By fine tuning the amount of fluence, the potential for blistering is minimized and has not occurred with treatment.

The Procedure
Patients are instructed to apply alpha-hydroxy acid in concentrations of 8% to 20% or retinoic acid cream to the treatment area for at least 2 weeks prior to the procedure and 3% to 4% hydroquinone for 1 week before the procedure. At the time of the test procedure, the striae are traced onto clear film similar to the kind used for overhead projectors. The tracing works better than photography for recording striae since striae often do not photograph well,Dr. Fox noted



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