after weight loss, plastic surgery removes excess skin and restores body shape

Stretch Marks : Scars on the Inside of the Skin

it is estimated that 90% of pregnant women, 70% of adolescent females and 40% of adolescent males have stretch marks - they are a near universal mark of our humanity

What are Stretch Marks?

Super elasticity is a gift some super heroes have. Stretch marks are a skin condition almost everyone has. It's the opposite of super hero status - a mark of our humanity.

Stretch marks are called striae distensae. They can begin as dark red or pink lines, fading with time to a lighter, silvery mark on fairer skin, and as darker pigmented lines on darker skin tones.

Dermatological research suggests there is a genetic link between stretch marks and the way a person's skin heals. In fact, how some one's skin heals from life's little scratches, burns and cuts may be the best indicator of the depth and severity of stretch marks they may eventually see.

What causes stretch marks?

...tretinoin may have
some effect in improving the appearance
of stretch marks...

Think of a stretch mark as a scar on the inside of the skin, rather than a scar that occurs when skin is externally wounded.

Stretch marks happen when skin is stretched beyond its normal limits for a period of time. Events that cause this stretching include:
• pregnancy
• growth spurts in puberty
• weight gain
• extreme weight loss

These physical changes in shape attack skin's support structure (collagen and elastin found in the middle layers beneath the skin surface) to break down or rupture.

Moisturizers Have No Effect on Stretch Marks
So let's be absolutely clear. Stretch marks are not caused because skin isn't properly moisturized. Stretch marks develop far below the skin's surface due to extreme strain, stress, and trauma.

No moisturizer or cream can prevent that kind of injury and damage to the skin from taking place. Strivectin SD, Striadril and other topical ointments and creams may soothe, but they cannot alter skin's structure. Their prevention claims are false.

What Works to Fade Stretch Marks?

Research shows that topical application of tretinoin (the active ingredient in Retin-A, Renova, or in generic form) can have a positive effect. Tretinoin can stimulate elastin synthesis, remodel collagen in the dermis, and improve skin’s texture and color. A 0.1% concentration of tretinoin is recommended. Best results are seen when this drug is used at the first signs of stretch marks. Test participants reported improvements of 15-20% reduction in stretch mark length and width.

Unfortunately, tretinoin cannot be used during pregnancy, and is also off limits during breastfeeding.

Light and Laser Therapies
Light and laser therapies may hold promise in repair of stretch marks. Studies using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL) treatments resulted in measurable improvement, with microscopic analysis showing improvement in the length, depth, and coloration of stretch marks.

This type of laser carries a low risk of side effects and complications. Unfortunately, they're not recommended for use on darker skin tones (including African-American) because of the risk of hyperpigmentation.

According to Paula Begoun's, the cost for a series of treatments can run $2,500 and up.

Chemical Peels
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels have been observed to help improve the appearance of stretch marks. When a 20% or greater TCA concentration is applied, the tightening effect of the peel can draw skin tighter, causing the stretch mark to appear smaller. Because TCA peels penetrate further than AHA or BHA peels, they are believed to have a greater ability to stimulate collagen and elastin for the depth of damage seen in stretch marks.

Surgical Alternatives
A board-certified cosmetic surgeon might recommend a tummy tuck or similar procedure to a patient with extreme stretch marks.

In the case of an abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, abdominal stretch marks as a result of extreme weight loss or childbearing shape changes can be removed by excising the damaged skin. The remaining skin is drawn tight and closed by sutures after underlying muscles are stitched and excess fat removed by liposuction or other means.



Seeking information that will help you to a healthy pregnancy? the american pregnancy association has an online resource for you - visit, the health advocacy group's official website.

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