Stretch marks are a type of scarring of the skin and commonly appear as reddish or white long lines/streaks.
They may first appear red or pinkish before gradually fading to purple/brown and then white.
Stretch marks typically form on areas of the skin which has undergone rapid expansion or prolonged stretching.
Stretching of the skin leads to collagen and elastin breakdown, resulting in atrophic skin which gives stretch marks its classical appearance.
Stretch marks are common in pregnancy and studies report that 8 out of 10 pregnant women may notice stretch marks on their body.
They usually appear on your tummy, upper thighs and breasts and may worsen as your pregnancy progresses with the gradual enlargement of the baby bump combined with the pregnancy weight gain.
After giving birth, the stretch marks may become less noticeable, however, it is unlikely for stretch marks to disappear completely.
The primary aim of treatments are to stimulate collagen and elastin production since stretch marks are due to the breakdown of these vital building blocks of the skin.
Whilst there exist many different brands of topical creams promising to improve stretch marks, there is no clear medical evidence supporting a specific brand of cream. As such, this write up will focus on medical treatments which are backed by research and evidence.
Tretinoin is a derivative of Vitamin A and is marketed in Singapore with many names such as Retin-A, Stieva-A and Retinacyl. These creams have been reported in studies to improve stretch marks by stimulating the production of collagen.
Of note, these creams are not safe in pregnancy. Please consult with your doctor prior to starting treatment.
CO2 fractional laser treatment is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses laser energy to penetrate the skin and stimulate collagen production. Collagen is a protein found in the skin that helps to give it structure and elasticity. When collagen production is increased, the skin becomes firmer and more resilient, which can help to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
During a CO2 fractional laser treatment session, a laser is used to create microscopic areas of damage in the skin. This triggers the body's natural healing process, which leads to the production of new collagen.
One of the key benefits of CO2 fractional laser treatment is that it is effective in treating large areas such as the entire abdomen in cases of post pregnancy stretch marks. Usually, multiple treatments may be required to achieve optimal results, but the majority of patients should notice improvements after the first few sessions.
Another advantage of CO2 fractional laser treatment is that discomfort is minimal with the application of local anesthesia (numbing cream). This makes the treatment more comfortable for patients and allows them to return to their normal activities immediately after the procedure.
More information about the CO2 fractional laser can be found here.
Multiple sessions are required for gradual improvement and the treated area may be red for 5 to 7 days.
Red stretch marks appear red because of the blood vessels present in the skin which become more visible due to the skin thinning from breakdown of collagen and elastin. With time, the redness gradually fades away and becomes white.
To accelerate this process, the Pro Yellow Laser can be used to target these blood vessels, thereby reducing the reddish appearance.
More information about the Pro Yellow Laser can be found here.
Rejuran Scar injections contain polynucleotide which are DNA fragments that help repair damaged cells and stimulate collagen.
Even though Rejuran Scar is more commonly used for the treatment of acne scars, patients with stretch marks can benefit from the treatment as well because of its collagen stimulating benefits.
Learn more about Rejuran Scar here
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) penetrates deep into the skin to target and stimulate collagen in different layers of the skin. On top of skin tightening, an additional benefit of HIFU is fat reduction in the treated area.
More information about HIFU can be found here.
Every clinic offers different stretch mark treatment options to improve stretch marks. No one clinic is same as the other. If you want to make sure that stretch mark treatments are performed safely and effectively, make sure that the clinic is experienced in offering stretch mark treatments. The clinic should also offer information on the various types of stretch mark treatments before proceeding.