Striae distensae, also known as stretch marks, is a common skin condition whose origin is not completely understood. [Elsaie 2009] The condition can be seen as akin to mild atrophic scarring with associated discoloration and “thinning” of the skin. Patients’ desire for treatment far outweighs the likelihood of associated medical problems so it is an aesthetic concern, but few therapies have demonstrated consistent positive outcomes and to date no gold standard has emerged. Many creams and other over-the-counter alternatives are sold claiming to improve the appearance of striae, with little in the way of strong, scientifically demonstrated efficacy. [Elsaie 2009]
Therapeutic options in the clinical setting include topical tretinoin or trofolastin, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, non-invasive radiofrequency devices, and a variety of laser- and light-based modalities including fractional laser therapy.[Elsaie 2009] One drawback to more aggressive methods such as fractional laser therapy is that often, stretch marks commonly appear in areas where skin is thin and sensitive, which are less than ideal conditions for laser therapies. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is also a concern with fractional laser therapy. [Metelitsa 2010]
Microneedling with Dermapen is an ideal therapy for stretch marks; it is excellent for atrophic scars and stretch marks can be seen as areas of mild atrophic scarring. Additionally, Dermapen therapy is inexpensive and easy to perform and tolerate when compared to alternatives. Treatment involves stimulation of neocollagenesis to induce therapeutic skin thickening via creation of zones of damage surrounded by healthy tissue. The treatment may also reduce pigmentation and “blur” lines of demarcation which contribute to the visibility of striae. Potential for PIH associated with other modalities is virtually non-existent with Dermapen, which is of special note when considering the treatment of darker-skinned patients, because associated dermal damage indices apoptosis (programmed cell death, rather than necrosis) which does not contribute to inflammation problems.
A study of microneedle therapy via dermal roller (1.5 mm needle depth) for striae distensae in 16 Korean patients (age range 19 to 44 years) included three treatments with the therapy device at intervals of four weeks.[Park 2012] The only side effects were mild pain and spotty bleeding during treatment, as well as erythema, all of which resolved within days of treatment—no incidence of PIH was recorded. Physician evaluation of results demonstrated at least minimal to moderate improvement in all patients with marked-to-excellent improvement in seven of the 16 subjects (43.8%). Patient satisfaction was rated as somewhat to highly satisfied in 14 of 16 subjects (87.5%). Histological examination revealed thickening of the epidermis, increases in collagen and elastin fibers.