One of the most effective treatments for stretch marks is laser skin resurfacing. There are two types of lasers, ablative and non-ablative. Each has its own strengths and side effects, and each type can give different results.
Ablative lasers, such as the CO2 laser, burn off the top layers of the skin. In the process, they also cause scabbing, itching, and raw skin. Non-ablative lasers, on the other hand, target the deepest layers of the skin without causing any major damage. They improve the texture of the underlying skin and encourage new collagen to form.
When a patient undergoes a non-ablative treatment, the doctor will apply a topical anesthetic to the area, which minimizes discomfort. The doctor will then position a handheld device to deliver pulses of energy deep into the skin. These pulses trigger the cells to release chemicals that promote healing and collagen production.
The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery estimates that patients may see up to sixty percent improvement in the appearance of their striae. However, it will take several treatments to achieve the full effect. Depending on the size and severity of your striae, you may need up to six treatments. Some providers offer discounts for those who opt for multiple sessions.
Another type of treatment for stretch marks is fractional laser therapy. A fractional laser uses broken-up micro beams of energy that heat damaged columns of the skin, leading to new tissue growth. This leads to increased blood flow, which is another factor in helping the scars to fade.
The number of treatments will vary depending on the severity of the striae and the type of laser used. The ASAPS reports that the average number of treatments is four. Typically, three to five weeks pass between each session. Depending on the type of laser used, the recovery time can be as short as thirty minutes or as long as an hour.
Several studies have shown that a combination of lasers can be a useful way to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. In one study, a Fraxel laser and a ResurFX laser were used to treat a patient’s striae distensae. Results showed that patients experienced a twenty-five percent to fifty percent improvement in the skin’s color, texture, and size.
The most popular option for stretch mark removal is non-ablative lasers. These devices focus on the deep layers of the skin, boosting the production of new collagen and elastin. They also stimulate the natural healing process, and may cause less swelling and redness. Although there is still a possibility for some patients to experience slight skin reaction, most people experience a decrease in the appearance of their striae after the first treatment.
Ablative lasers can provide excellent results when treating striae, but they can cause scabbing, itching, bruising, and raw skin. However, these side effects are not common, and they do not have as high of a risk for complications as the other type of laser.
Most people who are considering laser skin resurfacing for a stretch mark will have to wait at least a few months before seeing complete results. During the recovery period, the area may scab over. You may notice a slight increase in your skin’s color, but this is normal.