Stretch Marks

Plastic surgery information for women in Cincinnati, Ohio and across the United States

Our Cincinnati plastic surgeons help women from across the United States with body contouring procedures.  As a result, we deal with our share of stretch marks. What are stretch marks and why do they happen? More importantly, what can you do about them? Stretch marks are also known as “striae.” They are essentially tears in the deep layer of the skin, called the dermis. They tend to happen during periods of growth or weight gain when the skin is stretched. If the skin is stretched beyond its ability to adapt, small cracks or fractures form in the dermis. As the body heals, new collagen is formed in these areas, similar to a scar. Stretch marks are often red or pink at first, then fade to a more pale color with time.

Certain steroids and hormones seem to predispose a person to developing striae by decreasing the skin’s ability to adapt to stretch. This explains why teenagers going through their growth spurts and pregnant women are more likely to develop them. There seems to be a genetic component as well, because some women develop them without significant weight fluctuation.

It is unclear if you can prevent stretch marks. If you have a genetic predisposition to form them, you are probably out of luck. However, avoiding excess weight gain is important if you seem to be more prone to striae.

If you develop stretch marks, you can easily find many lotions, potions and creams designed to help. There is not any evidence that any of these products eliminate stretch marks. You can improve the appearance of most scars with the application of moisturizer and massage. I suspect these products are a more expensive version of this therapy. Although this may improve the appearance of stretch marks, they will not go away completely.

Fractionated lasers, like Fraxel, may have some potential to improve the appearance of stretch marks, too. Beware that it will take many treatments, may be expensive and probably will not completely remove the striae.

The only way to remove stretch marks is with surgery. Most stretch marks form on the tummy and hips, although they can occur nearly anywhere. Tummy tucks, or abdominoplasty, remove extra skin, including the stretch marks. The catch is that not all of the skin containing stretch marks can always be removed. Read, Make My Tummy Flat for more information about abdominoplasty. In addition, you may learn more by watching, Tummy Tuck– Skin Tightnening. Contact us to set up a consultation in one of  our Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky offices.

Click here to learn about the cost of a tummy tuck and financing options.

Click here to see tummy tuck before and after pictures.