The skin consists of three layers - the outer layer (epidermis), the middle layer (dermis) and the deepest layer (subcutaneous). Stretch marks entail stretching of the middle layer of the skin. Stretch marks can also be due to absence of collagen fibre. Typically, stretch marks are found in the abdominal wall as they store the excess fat first, but can occur over other parts like arms and thighs. Even an attempt to gain muscle can result in stretch marks. A sudden weight gain and loss, hormonal changes are the cause of these atrophic skin problems. The newly formed stretch marks called "stria rubra" look reddish. Over time they become white "stria alba".
Stria or stretch marks are commonly seen in women and men in younger age groups and especially during pregnancy.
Stretch marks gradually fade over years but can be disturbing cosmetically if too many in numbers. Topical retinoid acids, glycolic acids were tried with no great results. With the advent of newer laser technology there is a hope for treatment.
The doctors at our clinic (Pune) use lasers to get rid of or reduce stretch marks using speciality lasers. One such laser for treating stretch marks is the Er-YAG ResurFx on the new Lumenis M22 platform. About 4 sessions at monthly intervals can help the stretch marks look less obvious. It helps in collagen rebuilding and thus improves the skin texture and appearance.