Stretch Marks (Striae Distensae)

Dr. Melanie Palm is a nationally recognized dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon specializing in treatment of stretch marks. Her offices are located in Solana Beach, CA just north of San Diego. Dr. Palm lectures nationally on treatment of skin conditions including striae distensae. She offers many effective treatment options for improving the appearance of the stretch marks.

Why Do Stretch Marks Occur?

Stretch marks are known in medical terms as striae distensae. The marks are essentially scars in the skin. They occur as streaks or lines of shiny skin, typically along the hips, abdomen, thighs, or upper arms. Early marks appear red, pink or purple, while more mature stretch marks fade to an alabaster white or lighter color than normal skin tone.

Stretch marks occur in areas of greater skin tension or body folds, often due to hormonal or weight fluctuations.   The following conditions are common scenarios that contribute or lead to the presence of stretch marks:

  • Pregnancy
  • Steroid use (prescription or anabolic)
  • Hormonal and endocrine abnormalities
  • Puberty
  • Sudden changes in weight

Treatment Options for Stretch Marks

The correct choice or combination of treatment options for stretch marks depend on the underlying cause. This is extremely important as some treatment recommendations may be contraindicated in certain medical conditions or during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

The following treatments are commonly used alone or in combination for the treatment of stretch marks:

  • Topical treatment: Vitamin A derivatives called retinoids have been shown to fade the dark or red color of early stretch marks and decrease the size of stretch marks. They are contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Lasers , Lights, and Devices:
    • Intense Pulsed Light (IPL or photofacial): treatment is most helpful in addressing the red, pink or purple discoloration of early stretch marks. IPL targets and pulls out this color from striae distensae, but also helps to build a bit of normal collagen in the area of stretch marks.
    • ResurFX: ResurFX is an infrared laser very similar to Fraxel Re:Store. It is a minimal to no downtime laser that creates heat energy that stimulates normal collagen production, minimizing the appearance of stretch marks. ResurFX can be used on early or mature stretch marks and is best completed as a series of treatments.
    • CO2 laser resurfacing: CO2 laser treatment is an ablative treatment meaning it selectively removes and resurfaces a portion of the skin. It can be used at lighter settings to try and tighten and improve the appearance of stretch marks. It requires some wound care and downtime following treatment.
    • Infini: Infini is a microneedling radiofrequency device that delivers heat energy through hundreds of microneedle punctures. The dual action of this device is capable of producing new collagen at multiple layers of the skin. It is commonly used for acne scarring but may be helpful at improving stretch marks as well.

A combination approach is sometimes ideal to improve the appearance of stretch marks. Non-invasive and minimally invasive techniques are often combined with topical skin care regimens at Art of Skin MD to achieve the aesthetic goals of our patients in regards to striae distensae.

If you are looking for a non-surgical way for getting rid of stretch marks, cellulite in the San Diego area, call Dr. Melanie Palm at 858.792.SKIN (7546) to schedule your appointment.