Stretch marks, also known as striae, are something we may experience in our lifetime. They can be distressing and lead to cosmetic morbidity and psychological distress, with some people seeking methods to remove them. This guide explores what causes stretch marks, if they go away naturally and what can be done to reduce them.
What are stretch marks?
They are visible linear visible linear scars which develop in areas of dermal damage as a result of excessive stretching of the skin. They are twice as common in females and are reported in the age group of 5–50 years.
What causes stretch marks?
A sudden change in weight is a cause of stretch marks, as well as pathological and genetic disorders. Found to be more common in females, stretch marks may develop during pregnancy, puberty, muscular activity or if you are overweight.
Other reasons for their appearance can be prolonged use of corticosteroid to the skin and some medical conditions, such as Cushing’s disease or Marfan syndrome.
How can Coolsculpting® help as an alternative method of weight loss?
If you are looking to reduce fat in a specific area of your body, Coolsculpting® may be an option for you to consider. As the leading non-invasive treatment for fat reduction, its process, scientifically referred to as Cryolipolysis® has been used in over eight million procedures worldwide.*
Developed for localised fat removal, particularly in stubborn areas, it works by using targeted freezing of the fat cells to destroy and remove them from the body.
What can I expect from a CoolSculpting® procedure?
Before patients receive a CoolSculpting® procedure, they will attend a one-to-one consultation with a medically trained professional, who will discuss the treatment options and devise a customised plan for their fat loss goals.
Patients are often keen to know what to expect on the day of the procedure. This process is relatively pain-free. A device is placed on the targeted area, and then a vacuum is used to gently pull in the fat cells and expose them to very cold temperatures to freeze the cells. There may be gentle tugging sensations during the treatment, and a feeling of numbness as the area gets cold.
Does the CoolSculpting procedure result in stretch marks?
The results of the CoolSculpting® treatment become visible within two to six months. You can view some of our patients’ before and after pictures in our gallery. Most patients can expect to return quickly to their daily lives with minimal interruption.
Studies have shown that CoolSculpting® can induce the appearance of skin tightening, potentially caused by stimulated collagen production and new elastin formation, however further research is needed to determine the mechanism behind this result.
What can I do to reduce stretch marks?
Stretch marks have been found to be difficult to treat. For those looking to reduce fat from a specific area of the body, Coolsculpting® could be considered as a treatment option without any long-lasting side effects.
With prevention being an option over cure, one approach is to avoid stretch marks from the outset by maintaining a consistent healthy body weight. However, individuals who have developed stretch marks should be reassured that most of them fade with time.
What treatment options are available for stretch marks?
There are a few options available to treat stretch marks, but none guarantee effectiveness.
Chemical peels are one treatment approach for stretch marks, topical application of tretinoin has been shown to significantly improve the clinical appearance of early striae distensae. There are different types of chemical peel, which vary in the acid used and aggressiveness of treatment.
Research has demonstrated that using a topical retinoic acid (tretinoin), 0.1%, in a cream base may improve the cosmetic appearance of the inflammatory red or purple stages of the stretch marks. However, chemical peels can have some side effects, such as skin irritations and swelling. Therefore, it is advisable to speak to a medical professional before opting for one of these treatments.
Research has shown that the use of microdermabrasion is an easy method of treating stretch marks and does have some efficacy. However, the improvement is only mild to moderate.
Microneedling uses fine needles to puncture the top layer of the skin, stimulating growth factors and collagen production. As a minimally invasive procedure, when compared to treatments such as laser therapy and chemical peeling, it is considered to be a procedure with good post-treatment recovery, and thus a valuable alternative for reducing skin conditions, such as stretch marks.
Laser treatment is a more invasive method of tackling the appearance of stretch marks. This procedure uses rapid pulses of light to destroy the skin cells, aiming to reduce redness and inflammation. However, laser treatment may not be suitable or effective for all skin types, so it should be an option thoroughly explored with your doctor before proceeding.
How can I find out more about Coolsculpting®?
There are numerous local Coolsculpting® clinics around the UK, where you can easily book a free appointment to speak to one of our specialists. They will be able to review the suitable options for your fat loss goals, give you advice on the suitable methods of treatment and help you decide if Coolsculpting® is the most suitable option for you.
Use our clinic locator to find a clinic.
Evaluating the considerations for stretch marks
Many natural processes lead to the unavoidable development of stretch marks. Try not to worry if your stretch marks are highly visible, as they may fade over time. There is a range of possible treatments available for stretch marks, but research has shown that they are not fully effective for everyone.
For more costly, invasive procedures, such as laser treatment or chemical peels, it is advisable to speak to your doctor first about whether this would be suitable for you. If you are looking to lose fat from a specific area, and are worried about developing stretch marks, it is worth speaking to a Coolsculpting® specialist to review whether this method is suitable for you.
†Based on HCP tracking market research in the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Brazil, China and Australia (n=526), and global market research of the overall body shaping and skin tightening market
* Patients may require more than one treatment to reach desired outcome.