Stretch marks are caused by a rapid growth in the body which results in stretching the skin. The collagen and elastic fibers that hold skin together in the dermis are loosened. The recoil of the skin is lost so it stays loose and not taut. The skin has lost its ability to "bounce back." Steroids or hormones released by pregnancy or puberty can interfere with collagen formation. Weight gain and muscle building are also causes. Striae often appear on the abdomen, arms, thighs and buttocks. Topical treatments like creams usually fail because they cannot penetrate deep into the dermis of the skin where the cause of stretch marks lay. Previous laser therapy faded redness but did not address the root cause of stretch marks.
Fractional photothermolysisis is a form of photorejuvenation that involves tiny columns of energy that gently heat the deeper layers of the skin. The technology has been adapted to treat and shrink stretch marks whose genesis also lay deep in the skin. The intense heat creates tiny wounds in the affected areas. The controlled wounds heal over time, significantly decreasing the appearance of stretch marks as new, healthy skin grows. Side effects are usually minimal. Improvement occurs gradually over several treatments. The improvement continues up to 6 months after the last treatment as the skin continues to remodel itself. The Starlux 1540 non-ablative fractional laser is the only FDA approved treatment for stretch marks. Treatment is safe and effective in patients of any skin type or color. Fractional resurfacing also causes improvement in wrinkles and acne scars.