Generally not considered a danger to your health, Stretch Marks, also known as straie, may be unsightly and cause feelings of embarrassment amongst people who have them. Commonly occurring on the hips, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, breasts, and flanks, stretch marks may first appear as red glossy streaks and over time, may develop into whitish scar-like lines.
Stretch marks occur when skin has been stretched out rapidly, causing texture to change from regular skin, resulting in thinner skin and visible scarring. There are multiple causes for stretch marks: abrupt weight loss or gain, pregnancy or rapid growth during puberty. Regardless of the cause, previous stretch mark treatment have included topical ointments but usually with low success rates due to the high difficulty associated with this skin condition.
A new approach is now available that may effectively treat stretch marks by combining a fractional CO2 laser treatment with injections of PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma drawn from the patient's own blood. According to cell therapy pioneer Newport Beach cosmetic surgeon Dr. Thomas Barnes, this power duo offers patients a way to address the appearance of stretch marks both internally and externally.
Dr. Barnes first treats the external appearance of stretch marks with a fractional CO2 laser, the Smart Skin. "Similar to how we use fractional CO2 lasers to rejuvenate facial wrinkles, we go over the stretch marks with the laser to encourage collagen growth," describes Dr. Barnes, "It is a fairly quick procedure and the laser resurfaces the area with the stretch marks safely."
Typically used on the face, fractional CO2 lasers are effective in stimulating new skin and collagen to grow. For the treatment of stretch marks, this is ideal as additional collagen may cause the depressed skin to raise up to surrounding skin levels while decreasing the visibility of stretch marks by lightening the darker colored marks. Although not considered a cure, many physicians agree that this is the best available treatment for stretch marks.
After the important first step of the laser treatment, Dr. Barnes injects Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) into the dermis, beneath the stretch marks. "The PRP found in patient's blood and stem cells work together to enhance healing and rejuvenation of virtually any body tissue," explains Dr. Barnes, "In cosmetic surgery, we are simply focusing your body’s natural healing capacity to help rejuvenate your skin: including sun damage, acne scars, lines and wrinkles, pore size, and faster healing after any surgical procedure."
Extraction of PRP for the injections is a simple procedure: blood is drawn from the patient which is then placed in a centrifuge to separate plasma from the red blood cells. The plasma, which is heavy with naturally-healing platelets is then injected directly into the stretch marks to encourage healing.
According to Dr. Barnes, whenever an injury occurs on the body, the human body naturally sends platelets to promote clotting and release growth factors to cause tissue regeneration. By harnessing the power of cell therapy, Dr. Barnes believes direct rejuvenation is possible from within using the body's own healing capabilities.
The combination of the fractional CO2 laser treatment with the PRP injections treats stretch marks two-fold. "Stretch marks occur due to the thinning of the dermis, resulting in a shortage of structures in the skin and pores. In addition, there is also a thinning of collagen," states Dr. Barnes, "Our solution to stretch marks improves the appearance by using the Smart Skin CO2 laser but also encourages the body to heal itself from within with the PRP injections."