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Dr. David McDaniel was also a skeptic. But after carefully monitoring the effects of the laser treatment on 10 women, he changed his mind. “When I started the study, I thought it wouldn’t work,” said McDaniel, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology and plastic surgery at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Virginia Beach, Va. “But now I’m a believer.”
McDaniel followed the progress of his patients with biopsies, photography and computer-assisted optical scans designed to measure changes in skin texture. By the end of eight weeks, there was significant improvement, according to the Virginia physician.
After comparing the initial skin samples to those taken after eight weeks, McDaniel discovered that the amount of elastin in the stretch marks had increased.
The treatment is quite safe, McDaniel pointed out. “It’s the same system that we use to take birthmarks off two-week-old babies’ faces,” he said.
But McDaniel is worried that laser therapy will catch on too fast and that people will be disappointed.
“I am concerned that this is going to be overused,” McDaniel said. “It can even work on old stretch marks that Retin-A doesn’t work on. But there’s a lot of variation in its effectiveness, ranging from minor to dramatic improvement. Also, it can take three, four, or even six months before the changes become noticeable.”
Linda Carroll is a free-lance writer who specializes in medical topics.