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Pulsed lasers improve stretch marks, patient satisfaction

A new method for treating stretch marks with a pulsed dye laser has achieved a 65 percent improvement in the elasticity and drepression of the marks, according to a two-year study by Joshua L. Fox, M.D., a dermatologic surgeon from Fresh Meadows, N.Y.

Using the laser helped maximize treatment results for more than 100 patients, including men and women of all ages and skin color, according to Dr. Fox, who presented his findings at the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery meeting in Boston in May.

Stretch marks, or striae distensae, have traditionally been treated with topical creams, but these are frequently ineffective.

“Although laser therapy offers renewed hope for these individuals, laser alone has certain inadequcies that prompted us to develop a system to maximize treatment results and increase patient satisfaction,” said Dr. Fox.

Dr. Fox’s laser treatment begins by classifying existing stretch marks by color, elasticity, depression of the striac, surface changes and the extent of the condition. Patients are then educated to make sure they have realistic expectations and will comply with pre- and post-treatment regimens.

The marks to be treated are then prepared, and a small area is then tested to determine which dose of the laser is appropriate for that patient. Preliminary tests minimize potential for blisterring, discoloration and scarring. using the optimal dose, the entire area is then treated.

Next, other methods are used to reduce pain and enhance results of the laser treatment. Ice and special creams are included in post-treatment skin care.

using the initial five criteria, the dermatologist and patient evaluate the marks’ improvement six to eight weeks later.

Dr. Fox said that the advantages of his system include reproducibility, decreased risk of scarring, or infection, minimal risk of discoloration, maximum lessening of the stretch marks, more personally tailored pre- and post-treatments and greater patient satisfaction.

The system’s disadvantages include color ans surface changes that may not meet patient expectations; situations that can require multiple treatments; and results that may not end in 100 percent improvement, he reported.

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