Patients often ask about plastic surgery for stretch marks, hoping for a minimally invasive technique to reduce their appearance.  Options to remove stretch marks are limited and generally require skin resection.  Here are 4 FAQ relating to plastic surgery for stretch marks:

1. What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks often develop during pregnancy, puberty, weight gain, or following significant weight loss. They result from tears in the dermis, which is the structural component of skin. Stretch marks occur when the skin has stretched beyond its elastic limit and is no longer able to fully contract.

2. Is laser an option to remove stretch marks?

Laser is not an effective technique to remove stretch marks, however in some cases may reduce the appearance of stretch marks.  When stretch marks are immature, they often demonstrate a pink or purple hue.  Vascular lasers may be effective in these cases to help the stretch marks fade closer to skin tone.  Applying sunscreen regularly to sun-exposed regions with immature stretch marks may also reduce one’s risk of developing permanent pigmentation changes.

3. How is plastic surgery for stretch marks performed?

The only definitive plastic surgery for stretch marks involves resecting the involved tissue.  Tummy tuck may be an effective technique to remove abdominal stretch marks below the belly button level. Stretch marks above the belly button generally will not be removed.  There are limitations in the amount of tissue that may be resected given that wound closure must be achieved without excess tension.  Stretch marks that exist above the belly button are repositioned during tummy tuck surgery to the lower abdomen, which may also reduce their appearance post-operatively.  Some stretch marks may also be removed during a breast lift or other body contouring procedures, depending on their location and extent.

4. Can plastic surgery actually cause stretch marks?

In some cases, plastic surgery may unfortunately lead to the appearance of stretch marks. They may develop following breast augmentation.  The risk may be greater with large breast implants. Stretch marks develop in relation to rapid skin stretching, which occurs to a greater extent as implant size increases.  The risk of developing stretch marks following breast augmentation may also be related to previous stretch mark formation as well as family history.

Please contact us to schedule a consultation with female plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephanie Power, regarding stretch marks or other aesthetic concerns.