Stretch Mark Removal Treatment is exactly what is says it is, removing or reducing the visibility of stretch mark scarring, mainly through the use of laser treatment. Usually requires 4-6 treatments over a four to six month period.
Length of Procedure
Stretch Mark Removal Cost
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Stretch Mark Removal Before & After Gallery
Are You A Candidate for Stretch Mark Removal?
Laser stretch mark removal is one of the most common treatments performed at the SpaMedica Dermatology centre in Toronto. While stretch marks occur to most pregnant women, they also affect some adolescents during puberty and people who gain or lose weight rapidly through eating or from exercise and/or muscle building. Stretch marks are characterized by striae, which initially appear red but gradually may fade to a silvery white colour.
Are You A Candidate for Stretch Mark Removal?
It is recommended not to have an active tan on the area you wish to be treated. Your SpaMedica Toronto stretch mark removal expert will discuss all pretreatment requirements during your consultation.
Stretch Mark Removal Procedure Details
Stretch Mark Removal in Toronto
What are Stretch Marks? What causes Stretch Marks?
Stretch mark patients will start their body perfecting journey with a complete consultation which will explain stretch marks, what they are and how to treat them.
Stretch marks are areas of skin that have been stretched beyond the elastic recoil potential of the skin. This stretching, or tensile load, results in micro-tears in the fibrous structure of the skin. The structures that undergo micro-tears are collagen, elastin and ground substances. The most common causes of stretch marks are expansion or rapid growth of the skin. The most common causes for expansion or rapid growth of skin are pregnancy, weight loss, weight gain, pubertal growth spurts, growth of breast tissue and even from weight training with expansion of the underlying muscle (made worse by anabolic steroid use). Commonly found around the breasts, hips, thighs, arms, abdomen buttocks and back, these stretch marks can be difficult to conceal.
Contraindications would include those individuals who may be pregnant at the time of surgery; individuals with inflammatory lesions or infective lesions; skin cancers in the areas of treatment; and those individuals with very dark skin who have a history of keloid scar formation.
What is Stretch Mark Removal?
Toronto Stretch Mark patients can be treated with a number of different SpaMedica technologies that can be deployed that result in the reduction of the appearance of stretch marks. In general, at SpaMedica, Toronto Stretch mark patients will receive a combination of treatments that treat the stretch mark from both underneath and from above with collagen-forming and skin-tightening technology and fractional resurfacing technology. These treatments treat the stretch marks from above, below and inside to get the best possible outcome. There are also a number of blood vessel reduction and vascular lasers that can be deployed at SpaMedica to reduce the purple and red colour of your stretch marks.
Once the skin is overstretched, the micro-tears and disruptions occur in the collagen and elastin and a microscopic inflammatory response is created. The inflammatory response leads to the increased presence of blood vessels and a process called neovascularization or new blood vessel formation. This leads to one of the two types of stretch marks, which are red or purple stretch marks. The second type of stretch marks is white, silvery or greyish, atrophic stretch marks.
Purple or red stretch marks are usually early stretch marks that occur during the expansion phase of the skin and during the early phase of the disruption and micro-tears in the collagen and elastin. The purple or reddish colour is due to the increased presence of blood vessels in the newly-injured skin. This purplish and reddish discolouration may persist for several months or, rarely, several years after the appearance of the stretch mark. The red or purple stretch marks are traumatized and overstretched skin where there is still an inflammatory component and the underlying blood vessels are red or purple in colour are treated with vascular lasers. SpaMedica is Canada’s largest private laser centre. The vascular lasers deployed at SpaMedica include a wide range of options to give Toronto Stretch Mark patients the best possible reduction in the red/purple colour of your stretch marks. These lasers include: Perfecta VBeam pulsed dye laser, the Synergy long pulsed Nd:YAG 1064nm and pulsed dye synergy laser, the Elite Long pulsed NdYAG 1064nm laser, as well as many different intense pulsed light (IPL) systems, such as the Palomar Max G, the Lumenis IPL the LUME ONE and TWO, the Sciton BBL and the Inmode Lumecca. The application of these vascular lasers is usually performed once every three to four weeks. Over a series of four to six treatments, generally all the redness from your purple or red stretch marks can be removed. By treating the stretch mark when it is red or purple, we will also stimulate new collagen and elastin production, which will help minimize the progression of a purple or red stretch mark into a white, or atrophic, stretch mark. A thin layer of ultrasound gel is place on the skin and the pink, purple vessels are treated with the flash of laser and light. The treatments are comfortable for Toronto Stretch Marks patients and are performed as an outpatient treatment under topical anesthesia. After each treatment, the purple, red or pink stretch marks may appear darker in colour for 1-2 weeks before they start fading (as the treatment will often induce a bruise).
Figure 5. The Max G is one of the many vascular laser and light based devices used at SpaMedica to treat Toronto Stretch Mark patients whose stretch marks are RED and PURPLE in colour
- Skin before with red (vascular) and brown (melanin pigment) at the surface
- The IPL and laser light attacks the red and brow colours to fade them
- The red and purple discolouration in the stretch marks disappears and reduces significantly over several treatments.
White or silvery stretch marks (atrophic stretch marks) are more mature than the purple and red stretch marks. White stretch marks occur after the blood vessels have faded and the inflammatory response has died down. In general, the inflammatory response and the stretch mark leading to blood vessels is the body’s attempt to repair the collagen and elastin and the failure to do so results in a permanent whitish, silvery, shiny stretch mark that may be very wide and wrinkly or very thin and wrinkly. White stretch marks are a version of a Hypotrophic scar, which is an injury to the skin which healed without enough collagen, elastin and ground substances and the stretch mark skin looks thin, old, waxy and insubstantial. These older, whiter or silvery stretch marks do not have the same elastic properties of the skin, with decreased amounts of collagen and elastin and can be quite unsightly when positioned next to normal, smooth, untraumatized skin. Generally, these older, white and silvery stretch marks do not the tan the same as the adjacent normal skin and generally accompany skin laxity.
There are two revolutionary approaches to treating white stretch marks at SpaMedica. The top down and bottom up “sandwich” treatment of stretch marks has been pioneered by Dr. Mulholland and SpaMedica.
- The “top down” approach uses fractional resurfacing lasersand radiofrequency devices, including the Fraxel® CO2 laser, erbium fractional lasers, the fractional radiofrequency resurfacing Fractora™, InFini RF, IntensiF, INTRAcel™ and eMatrix. These fractional ablative lasers create small columns of injured tissue from the top right through into the stretch mark. The fractional nature of these devices leaves some of the stretch mark untreated between the columns of fractional injury, allowing for a reservoir of tissue to produce new collagen and new elastin to smoothen the appearance of the wrinkly, smooth, white stretch mark. Toronto Stretch Mark patients can expect a series of these fractional ablative laser and radiofrequency device treatments is required once every four to six weeks.
Figure 9. Toronto Stretch Mark removal patients under go “top down” Fractional lasers and fractional radiofrequency devices, which create a proportional thermal injury in the skin of the stretch mark that then must heal with new collagen, elastin and ground substances from the surrounded un-damaged skin. This new collagen, elastin and ground substances smoothen the top down appearance of the thin, damaged stretch mark.
Toronto stretch mark patients will receive from SpaMedica patients the widest array of Fraxel-like fractional Co2 laser (carbon dioxide) fractional erbium lasers and fractional radiofrequency devices to ensure you get the best possible resolution in the appearance of your stretch marks. By combining these different fractional laser and radiofrequency ablative devices during your SpaMedica stretch mark treatment program, Toronto Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Stephen Mulholland can ensure you receive the best possible improvement in the appearance of your stretch marks.
Figure 10. One of the fractional technologies that Dr. Mulholland has pioneered in the treatment of stretch marks has been the silicone coated radiofrequency needles. The silicon coated RF needles are able to penetrate the surface of the stretch mark and, without surface thermal injury can deliver a very deep fractional ablation. This results in optimal collagen, elastin and ground substances deeper in the stretch marks without over heating the surface of the stretch mark skin. If the skin is overheated, this could result in even whiter discolouration of the already white stretch mark. Dr. Mulholland will often deploy a superficial fractional device to improvement surface texture of the stretch mark and then, using coated technology, deliver strong ablative treatments to smoothen and tighten the stretch mark from its depths while protecting the delicate pigment on the surface.
Figure 11. Intracel is another fractional coated bipolar radiofrequency, which like the Intensif and Infini Fractional RF systems provide deep collagen improvement in the stretch mark and more collagen and elastin.
Figure 12. The ematrix and Matrix RF are other fractional radiofrequency resurfacing devices that SpaMedica will use on patients to provide a gentle fractional ablation and sublation for texture and tightening improvement in stretch marks of patients of all skin types.
Dr. Mulholland also deploys some of the best fractional infrared “non-ablative” lasers for the treatment of stretch marks. The non-ablative lasers, unlike the Carbon Dioxide fractional lasers and fractional RF needle resurfacing devices do not “burn a hole” in the surface of the skin. Rather, they send a micro thermal fractional beam into the skin, resulting in a “thermal column” that will help stimulate new collagen, elastin and ground substances without the downtime of the ablative devices. These non-ablative lasers, like the Fraxel Renew, Clear and Brilliant, the Lux 1540 and the Matrix IR can be used on Toronto Stretch mark patients with darker skin (where ablative lasers may lighten the surrounding skin) or patients with lighter skin tones that do not want any downtime.
Figure 13. The Infrared Fractional lasers, are non-ablative, and create fractional micro-thermal columns, rather than ablation and vaporization of tissue, to stimulate new collagen and elastin. The Palomar Lux 1540, Fraxel Renew, Clear and Brilliant and Matrix IR are all the various fractional non-ablative lasers that Toronto Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Stephen Mulholland may use in treating Toronto Stretch mark patients.
Figure 14. The Fractional non-ablative lasers create fractional, or proportional micro-thermal injuries with denaturation of the collagen, rather than the ablation and vaporization of carbon dioxide and erbium ablative lasers. These micro-thermal columns produce new collagen in the stretch marks but produces very little down time and can be used on darker skin Toronto Stretch Mark patients.
One of the most exciting innovations in the “top down” SpaMedica stretch mark treatments is the Enerjet. The Enerjet can propel solubilized soft tissue fillers, such as Restylane and Juvederm across the skin and distribute it evenly within the stretch mark and just under the stretch marks to make them smoother and tighter. The Enerjet creates a micro-infusion and propulsive mesotherapy into the stretch marks without a needle. The Enerjet uses a propulsive liquid infuse with soft tissue filler such as Restylane and Juvederm to migrate the product throughout the depths of the stretch mark far more evenly than could ever be done with a needle without pain or discomfort. This needleless filler approach has added a whole new dimension to the treatments of Toronto Stretch mark patients.
Figure 15. The Enerjet uses propulsive kinetic solubilized products such as Restylane and Juvederm and propels under gentle high pressure directly into and through the stretch marks without the use of a needle and much more evenly than could ever be done before. The Enerjet has been a tremendous additional in the ability to reduce the appearance of stretch marks by facilitating the introduction of the fillers and bio-stimulation of the barotrauma more superficially and accurately than hand injections can ever do.
The “bottom up approach”: Toronto Stretch Mark patients can also benefit from Dr. Mulholland’s pioneering work on a bottom up approach to the treatment of stretch marks. In combination with this top down”is a “bottom up approach. Using under-the-skin heating technologies, such as the FaceTite™, Precision TX and ThermiRF and ThermiTite as well as subdermal heating with a SmartLipo laser™. These devices, which are radiofrequency or laser devices, heat the skin from underneath, or a “bottom up” thermal stimulation, resulting in new collagen and elastin and tightening of the otherwise lax-appearing stretch mark. These “bottom up” heating devices provide a lift effect on the stretch marked skin without having to undergo the knife, or a surgical excision. This “top down” and “bottom up” approach to the stretch mark gives the best possible improvement that one can achieve without any invasive surgery.
- Subdermal heating devices such as FaceTite (above) and ThermiRF radiofrequency systems, or Pricision TX SmartLipo laser heating, heat and thermally stimulate the tissue just under the skin providing a tightening effect.
- After heating the sub-dermal stretch mark skin, it results in new remodeling skin and dermis, providing a thickening and tightening effect, which improves the appearance of stretch marks.
- Toronto Stretch Mark patients who undergo the SpaMedica combination treatments of “top down” and “bottom up” combo treatments with total dermal collagen, elastin and ground substance production and stretch mark reduction or elimination.
How are the stretch mark reduction and removal procedures performed?
In general, the SpaMedica “top down” fractional laser and radiofrequency devices, such as Enerjet are performed using topical anesthetic cream. The treatment involves the applicator being applied over the skin of the stretch marks and blending into the uninjured skin. The treatment takes generally between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on the size and number of areas of the stretch marks that are being treated.
The “bottom up” approach to stretch mark treatment, using the radiofrequency under-the-skin heating FaceTite™, ThermiRF and/or the under-the-skin heating laser SmartLipo™ Precision TX device, is performed under local anesthesia and is performed by Dr. Mulholland personally. The treatment, again, takes between 30 and 60 minutes and generally one to two treatments, separated by three to four months is required.
What if you have darker skin, can you treat your stretch marks?
If you are a Toronto Stretch Mark patient who has a darker skin type, you would typically not be a candidate for some of the more aggressive non-ablative fractional lasers. However, at SpaMedica, Dr. Mulholland has acquired and developed many fractional devices and under the skin “bottom up” thermal devices that can safely and effectively treat the stretch marks of darker skin patients
Figure 18. An example of a darker skin patient with Stretch Marks that can be treated by the SpaMedica Toronto Stretch mark program. Non ablative devices such as the Lux 1540, the ematrix and the Fractora silicon coated devices, as well as the sub-dermal heating systems such as the Fractora, ThermiRF and Smartlipo Precision Tx.
Are there any maintenance treatments required following my stretch mark removal program?
For the mature, white and silvery stretch marks, improvements in the appearance of these stretch marks through fractional radiofrequency and fractional laser devices and/or under-the-skin heating devices, there will be some degeneration in the new collagen and elastin with age and time. Normal degenerative enzymes continue to break down normal skin and new collagen and elastin that was produced in your stretch marks. Over time, the stretch marks will again progress to look withered, old and unattractive. It is therefore recommended that a simple maintenance treatment with a fractional radiofrequency or laser device be performed once every four to six months. Alternatively and additionally, non invasive RF (radiofrequency) devices, such as Venus Freeze, FORMA, Exilis, Pelleve, or Thermage can be used to maintain the collagen production and the smooth appearance of the treated stretch marks. A simple “protect your investment” treatment is recommended once every 2-3 months, with no downtime or recovery and will protect your collagen and tightening stretch marks effects. These devices are bulk skin heating technologies, that are moved gently and painlessly over the skin heating it to 43-45 degrees Celsius and sustaining this heat for 10-20 minutes. This can be a relatively mild to moderate treatment with redness and down time being generally measured in one week or less. Treatment with the bulk heating RF, non ablative devices once a week for 4-6 weeks can result in 20% more collagen and a “protect your investment” result for your stretch marks.
Figure 19. Following the treatment of your stretch marks, there are maintenance “protect your investment” treatments with non-invasive RF and fractional devices such as the FORMA, Thermage, Venus Freeze, Exilis or Pelleve, that will continue to keep the collagen, elastin and ground substances active in keeping your stretch mark skin tight and smoother.
Risks/Is It Safe/Side Effects
Is stretch mark reduction and removal painful?
The treatment of stretch marks, whether “top down” or “bottom up” is very tolerable. Topical anesthesia makes the “top down” treatment of red and white stretch marks with laser and fractional devices comfortable. The “bottom up” approach, performed under local anesthesia, is also very comfortable once the local anesthetic has been instilled.
Stretch Mark Removal Results
How long does the stretch mark reduction procedure and program take?
Each stretch mark treatment, whether “top down” or “bottom up” takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the stretch mark region and number of regions treated. Generally, the program itself requires three to six months to complete, as each treatment is performed every four to six weeks and a series of four to six treatments are required.
How long is the recovery following stretch mark reduction and removal?
There is little to no recovery following stretch mark removal and reduction treatment. There is some mild, burning discomfort and bruising following the treatment but, in general, most stretch marks are in easy-to-hide areas with clothing and the mild redness and swelling subsides over one to two weeks. The pinkness following the treatment with fractional radiofrequency devices and fractional lasers can take four to six weeks to completely disappear. Some patients may be prone to hyperpigmentation following this fractional treatment and intense pulsed light treatments and topical bleaching creams may be required to fade the pigmentation. Most patients can return to activities of daily living the following day. High-impact aerobic activities may take one to two weeks before returning to these activities, depending on the location and number of stretch mark regions treated. In general, the redness and swelling will take four to six weeks to completely subside and before bathing wear that does not cover the region should be worn
What kind of results can I expect from my non-excisional stretch mark reduction treatments?
The non-excisional results of your stretch mark reduction and removal, with the use of fractional radiofrequency and fractional laser devices and under-the-skin radiofrequency and laser heating devices can be quite noticeable. Up until the last several years, there had been no treatment that was effective for stretch marks, but with these new approaches to combination treatment, both treating from above and below the stretch marks, patients can see 30% to 75% improvement in their red, white, or silvery mature stretch marks after a series of treatments.
Figure 17 A. The right side of the abdomen showing stretch marks. The left side of the abdomen was treated with the SpaMedica techniques described above and one can see that the treated side showed significant improvements.
Figure 17 B. Close up of the Stretch mark improvements.
For those individuals with low abdominal stretch marks or stretch marks of the upper inner thigh or upper inner arm, excisional techniques can completely remove the stretch marks. However, with excisional techniques a patient is then exchanging a small scar for the removal of the stretch marks and the scar itself may need to be treated with vascular reduction lasers to minimize its appearance or remove any discolouration in the scar.
Occasionally, some patients with extensive stretch marks require excisional treatments in combination with non-surgical treatments beyond the area where an excision can be performed. This is an option for patients with more extensive stretch mark concerns.
How long will the results last following my stretch mark reduction and removal program?
The improvement in the appearance of your stretch marks through the production of new collagen and elastin should last one or more years following treatment. However, the normal aging process of skin is one of degeneration of collagen and elastin. In order to maintain and prolong the improved appearance of your stretch marks indefinitely, a simple maintenance program is generally recommended.
For purple and red stretch marks, if the goal is reduction of the red and purple colour, once that has been achieved this is a permanent improvement and no subsequent maintenance treatment is required.
Benefits of Treatment
The benefits of stretch mark reduction treatment are
- Greatly reduce the appearance of unaesthetic stretch marks which can take years to do if left untreated
- Improve self confidence. Although stretch marks are not physically dangerous they can cause issues with self confidence. Stretch marks can affect people’s day to day living, such as how they dress and what activities they may undertake (eg swimming, going to the beach)
Additional Procedures to Enhance Results
How can I prevent my stretch marks from coming back?
Patients can help to keep their condition under control with regular SpaMedica maintenance programs, maintaining a healthy weight and keeping the skin healthy and well hydrated. Fractional treatments and PXL treatments can be performed throughout the year when necessary to keep the stretch marks under control and to continue to stimulate new collagen formation. Bi-yearly Zerona laser slimming treatments will help assist you in keeping and maintaining a healthy weight.
SpaMedica has been serving Toronto stretch mark patients since 1997. SpaMedica is Toronto’s and Canada’s oldest, most recognized and reputable laser skin care and cosmetic dermatology centers. Patients also have the advantage of seeing one of SpaMedica’s experienced cosmetic dermatologists for some difficult to treat skin conditions.
Stretch Mark Removal Costs
How much will my stretch mark reduction and removal program cost?
The cost of the non-surgical, non-excisional stretch mark removal and reduction program depends on the size of the area treated and the number of treatments required. In general, most stretch mark reduction treatments cost start at approximately $250-$500 per treatment or more to perform and a series of four to six are required over four to six months.
Why choose SpaMedica and Dr. Mulholland for my stretch mark reduction and removal program?
Dr. Mulholland and SpaMedica continue to be at the forefront of pioneering new technologies that improve the appearance of stretch marks. Toronto Stretch Mark patients will benefit from the Vascular laser technology developed by Dr. Mulholland which includes intense pulsed light and combination pulsed Nd:YAG technology. In addition, Dr. Mulholland has helped pioneer radiofrequency fractional devices and subdermal, under-the-skin heating devices, all of which have contributed significantly to our ability to non-excisionally treat stretch marks. In selecting SpaMedica, you are getting the best possible expertise and technology used in combination to get the best possible reduction in the appearance of your stretch marks.
Excisional treatments at SpaMedica will be performed personally by Dr. Mulholland, one of Canada’s foremost plastic surgeons. His experience and skill will optimize the excisional removal of your stretch marks.