If you’re someone who suffers from stretch marks then you’re probably searching for a treatment that can really make a difference in the severity of their appearance. Stretch marks are a tear in the skin, which is caused by the skin stretching beyond capacity. Stretch marks can be caused by rapid weight gain or weight loss and affect almost ninety percent of pregnant women. Laser treatment for stretch marks can be used to treat stretch marks that are fresh, meaning less than a year old. This treatment can also work to diminish the appearance of older stretch marks but the results won’t be nearly as impressive.
Laser Treatment for Stretch Marks: What to Expect
Stretch marks can affect any area of the body, but are most commonly found on the abdomen, upper arms, breasts, thighs and buttocks. Completely removing them is almost impossible. Laser treatment for stretch marks will not entirely remove them, but it can help to significantly minimize their appearance.
Often, many women will attempt to remove stretch marks on their own using home remedies or over the counter creams. Unfortunately, there are no miracle creams or home treatments that will rid you of these unsightly scars.
Laser treatment for stretch marks is a procedure that utilizes a laser in order to damage the skin. When the skin is damaged it will heal itself, creating new skin cell formation and boosting collagen production. Using this controlled method to damage the skin will allow new skin to take the place of skin that’s riddled with stretch marks.
During a procedure, the fractional laser will use light to target the top layers of the skin, breaking down the old skin and stimulating skin cell and collagen production. The collagen will then fill in the tiny tears in the skin, resulting in smoother looking skin. Because laser treatment for stretch marks damages the skin, the healing period can be somewhat uncomfortable. In order to minimize pain during the procedure, the physician will apply a topical anesthetic. After treatment, the area will be red, swollen and tender. After two to three days the swelling and redness should subside.
Laser therapy results will depend on the age and severity of your stretch marks. If your stretch marks are fairly new they will be bright red or purple in color. Older stretch marks can appear as silver, white or gray. Older stretch marks can be harder to treat because they have healed and begun to fade. Newer stretch marks are much more responsive to this treatment.
Most plastic surgeons will recommend more than one session. It’s not uncommon for the patient to require four to five sessions before significant changes are noted. Each individual will respond differently to treatment. One patient may experience results after just one session, while another person may not notice a difference until their third or fourth treatment. Typically, a session will run thirty to forty-five minutes in length.
Will Health Insurance Cover the Cost of Laser Therapy?
The cost per session will vary with each specialist and can be affected by a variety of factors such as where in the country you reside, the type of laser used and the size of the area that needs treatment. Commonly, the cost can range from $250 to $500 per session. Unfortunately, most health insurance companies will not cover the cost because this type of treatment is not considered medically necessary and instead is categorized as a cosmetic treatment. Because of this you can expect to pay the total amount out of pocket.
Before you begin laser therapy you will need to make an appointment for a consultation with a plastic surgeon. During a consultation the doctor will assess your skin in order to determine whether or not you can benefit from this type of treatment. If your stretch marks are older than a year, you physician may recommend other treatment options. Pain management medication and what you can expect in terms of pain during and after treatment will also be discussed. Usually, a patient can return to work and normal activities two to three days after treatment.
Other Treatment Options for Older Stretch Marks
If your stretch marks are severe, or older than a year a plastic surgeon may recommend alternatives to laser therapy that are more effective.
If you have loose skin on the abdomen, in addition to stretch marks, your doctor may recommend a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck is a serious surgery that reduces the amount of loose skin in the abdominal area. This type of surgery is recommended for women who don’t plan on having more children.
A tummy tuck will completely remove any stretch marks while the physician also contours the abdominal muscles and tissue in the area. Ironically, the scarring from this procedure can be severe, depending on the type of tummy tuck surgery you opt for and the amount of skin that needs to be removed. It’s definitely a great option for moms who have had multiple pregnancies. A complete tummy tuck will take three to five hours to perform, depending on the amount of loose skin on the abdomen. During the procedure, the surgeon will make a long incision from hipbone to hipbone. Another incision is made to remove the navel. During this procedure the doctor will also tighten the muscles in the abdomen, pulling them closer together and stitching them in a higher position. Excess skin will be cut away and the remaining skin will be pulled tightly over your abdomen, for a flat new look. A new naval will also be created. Surgical draining tubes will be inserted to allow excess fluids to drain from the surgical site. The amount of time spent in the hospital varies from patient to patient but is typically two to three days. The cost of this procedure can range from $4,000 to $6,000.