If you have stretch marks, you’re not alone — and you’re in good company. Reportedly mega-model Cindy Crawford got them, so did actresses Halle Berry and Kate Beckinsale, among countless other women, both famous and otherwise. So how do the stars say goodbye to stretch marks? Most likely with the help of lasers.
See You Later, Stretch Marks
While stretch marks aren’t harmful or painful, they can make it hard to feel confident about your body, especially when it comes to wearing bathing suits and other skin-baring styles. Luckily, the frustrating marks on your skin can be minimized. “We can reduce red stretch marks, diminish white marks, improve the texture and make them look better, even in some cases so that you can’t see them very easily,” says Dr. Brian Zelickson, Director of the Zel Skin and Laser Center in Minneapolis.
There are a few different types of lasers that are used to help minimize stretch marks — the pulsed dye laser and fractional laser therapy are two of the most common. Different lasers target different types of stretch marks, which can be darker (red or purple) or white, but the end goal remains the same: to achieve smooth, healthy skin sans stretch marks. Both types of laser therapy use wavelengths of light to stimulate new growth of collagen and elastin, meaning hello new skin, goodbye stretch marks.
Treating Your Stretch Marks
When stretch marks are red, lasers can be highly effective at reducing the redness and stopping some of the inflammation. “In my opinion the pulsed dye laser is the treatment of choice for this,” says Dr. Zelickson. “Lasers work by reducing the redness in the stretch marks and by improving some of the inflammation causing the stretch marks in the first place,” he explains.
For stretch marks that are white, or if texture is more of an issue, your best bet might be fractional laser therapy such as Fraxel®. This laser makes small “injuries” in the skin (don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt) where the stretch marks are (about the diameter of a hair shaft) leaving normal, untreated skin in between. The untreated skin creates a response in the body that helps heal the treated area quickly, replacing it with new, healthy skin. “Generally we are getting good results with minimal downtime,” Dr. Zelickson says. Over time, the stretch marks start to get narrower and tighter and the skin appears smoother, which is exactly what you want.
To find out what type of treatment is best for you and your stretch marks, schedule a consultation with an experienced physician to discuss your options.
What to Expect
You’re probably wondering whether laser treatments hurt. While you might feel some mild discomfort, there really shouldn’t be any pain. “In my opinion, it’s not painful at all. On a scale of one to ten I would say most of my patients find it a two or three,” says Dr. Zelickson.
When it comes to recovery from laser stretch mark removal, it’s generally not very long (you may get some redness and swelling for a few days). But the good news is there’s no downtime. You can head to your appointment knowing you can go right back to whatever you were doing beforehand. You’ll need more than one treatment and the results can vary from patient to patient, but you can rest easy knowing you’re being proactive about your body and doing something to minimize your stretch marks and look better no matter what you’re wearing — or how much skin you’re baring.