Known collectively as striae (such as in striae distensae, striae gravidarum, striae atrophicae, and more), stretch marks are those unsightly, off-color stretch that arise from tearing of the skin from sustained stretching. Stretch marks are most commonly associated with physical changes due to rapid growth, muscle building, weight gain, pregnancy, or even puberty. While not usually a cause of physical problems requiring medical intervention, many people feel embarrassed at the appearance of stretch marks on their bodies and would like to see them faded or even completely gone.
Prescription retinoids, dermabrasion, and laser resurfacing are commonly used therapies to improve the appearance of stretch marks, but so far there is no “gold standard” treatment. These methods may not be effective in some cases or, as with lasers, bring with them potential side effects and risks many patients simply don’t want. Lasers are also limited in their ability to treat darker skin because the energy needed for effective treatment may cause burning and, in the case of stretch marks, the skin to be treated is often very sensitive and/or thin. Numerous creams are also available but their effectiveness is questionable at best.
One truly safe, effective solution for stretch marks on almost anyone is Dermapen micro-needle dermabrasion. The motorized, piston-driven Dermapen features an array of tiny, ultra-thin surgical steel needles at its tip that rapidly puncture the skin to make thousands of tiny wounds as the device is passed over the skin. With topical anesthetic there is virtually no discomfort, and the tiny wounds heal rapidly so downtime is minimal—one day or even less. This micro wounding causes stimulation of the body’s natural healing processes without causing much real damage to the skin. Newer, healthier skin is produced during the healing process. This type of treatment is called collagen induction therapy (CIT). Additionally, Dermapen treatment may include the application of topical serum that, because of the many minute holes in the skin created by Dermapen, will penetrate and perform more effectively. Treatment with Dermapen is also relatively inexpensive.
One potential side effect of other treatments is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which is more common in patients with skin of color and quite difficult to treat if it arises. With Dermapen, the nature of the micro-wounding creates conditions favorable to orderly healing response and clearance of cellular debris, with little excess inflammation, so the significantly reduced incidence of PIH is a major benefit of Dermapen therapy for any condition.
With perhaps 5 or 6 sessions at intervals of about four weeks between treatments, patients will be pleased at the way stretch marks fade and skin texture improves. Some patients report seeing a difference after a single treatment, but the full result will not reveal itself until several weeks after the final treatment session.