During periods of rapid weight gain, skin stretches to accommodate increased body volume. Because skin is elastic, it will tolerate significant stretching over a short period of time, such as during pregnancy. At some point, however, skin reaches a limit, and the deepest layer will tear instead of stretching further. When the deepest layer of skin tears, the overlying skin remains intact but appears thin and streaky. These streaks are called stretch marks. Once stretch marks occur, they are permanent.
Beware of Laser Removal of Stretch Marks
Although some physicians claim that lasers are effective in removing stretch marks, there is no evidence to support this. Most plastic surgeons think that lasers are ineffective in treating this problem.
Lasers are effective in removing, vaporizing, and breaking down tissues. They do not generally repair tissues. Stretch marks represent torn tissue. Hence, improvement should not be expected from laser treatment. Moreover, clinical studies have shown no improvement in stretch marks after laser treatment.
Surgical Removal of Stretch Marks
Abdominal stretch marks occur primarily below the belly button. The only way to remove stretch marks is with a tummy tuck. During a tummy tuck much of the skin below the belly button is removed, therefore stretch marks in this area are also removed. There is no other proven treatment for stretch marks.