What about Microdermabrasion to treat stretch marks?

Would Microdermabrasion be a wise choice as a way to handle my stretch marks? I'm not expecting them to be 'erased' but a little fading would be really nice. From what I do know about Microdermabrasion, it's not invasive. I'm hoping to find an alternative to the option of tummy tuck surgery. I know the results won't be as dramatic as with a tummy tuck but my stretch marks aren't as deep or pronounced as others I've seen so I'm hopeful. I look forward to getting your input.


F, 40, Wisconsin

Tags:woman age 35-44 stretch marks fade non surgical

The skin consists of three main layers: the epidermis which is the uppermost layer, the dermis which is the middle layer, and the hypodermis which is the deepest layer. Stretch marks or striae occur in the dermis when the connective tissue of collagen and elastin is stretched too far due to rapid expansion or contraction of the skin and tears. The deep scars that form in this layer are visible on the outer layer of skin.

Treatments which resurface the outer layer of skin, such as microdermabrasion or chemical peels, cannot make any lasting improvement to the appearance of striae. A stretch mark is a split that occurs in the deeper connective layers of skin and therefore will not be altered by any surface treatment.

Microdermabrasion may make the appearance of stretch marks slightly better but any improvement would be temporary and need to be repeated every two to three weeks.

If you are keen to avoid surgery, a more effective alternative to microdermabrasion is a laser resurfacing treatment. Fraxel, a fractionated CO2 laser that aggressively penetrates the skin is generally agreed to be the most effective at improving the appearance of old white stretch marks as it simultaneously stimulates collagen production and decreases pigmentation.

Patients note a 25%-40% improvement in the appearance of their stretch marks following four or five sessions. Some dermatologists and surgeons also report success after combining topical Retin-A treatments with a laser, or IPL treatments and laser.

Also, bear in mind that stretch marks also fade with time, generally becoming unnoticeable after a year to several years. If you’re content to wait it out, you can allow nature to take its course.

Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive skin-resurfacing technique that sloughs off the upper layer of skin or epidermis, removing dead skin cells. Following microdermabrasion treatment, the skin acquires a healthy glow and skin tone is improved.

While it is an effective treatment and can improve hyperpigmentation and skin texture over time, it does not penetrate the skin at a sufficient depth to reduce or eliminate stretch marks.

Stretch marks occur at the middle level of the skin, the dermis, when the skin is stretched beyond its natural limit, causing its elastic fibers to tear and scar. The scars occur from the inside of the skin, appearing as thin red or purple lines or grooves when they are fresh, then becoming silver or white stretch marks over time. It is particularly difficult to improve the appearance of old stretch marks.

Microdermabrasion cannot penetrate the skin to the depth required to reduce or eliminate stretch marks. As you have mentioned, the only procedure that can achieve this is tummy tuck surgery as it eliminates the affected skin from the abdomen. If, however, you are hesitant about proceeding with abdominoplasty, then you might want to consider Fraxel laser treatment.

Emerging studies and patient reports have noted some benefits following Fraxel. The laser stimulates collagen production in the dermis and also reduces pigmentation so stretch marks are less noticeable. Experiences of Fraxel are varied, however, with most patients only noticing a 30%-50% reduction in the appearance of their stretch marks. A small test may be performed prior to treatment to decide whether to proceed or not, as individuals with colored skin may experience hyperpigmentation as a result of this treatment.

Many patients ask me about the most effective aesthetic techniques for getting rid of stretch marks or striae. An estimated 80% of the population are affected by stretch marks, which typically form following rapid weight gain or weight loss, or growth spurts during puberty. While striae pose no medical risk, many people find them cosmetically unappealing and damaging to self-esteem and confidence.

Unfortunately, stretch marks occur in the middle layer of the skin and as such, are impossible to remove using beauty treatments that target the upper layers of the skin or the stratum corneum.

Microdermabrasion uses fine crystals to buff dead cells from the skin's surface, revealing a fresh, glowing complexion. It rarely penetrates the epidermis, however, and most certainly will not register any effect on the dermis where stretch marks originate. It may improve the appearance of the skin by providing some textural improvement of the outer layers of skin above the stretch marks.

For fresh red stretch marks, some patients experience limited improvement in their appearance by using stretch mark removal creams, such as products containing retin-A. However, there is no high-quality scientific evidence that any skin care can markedly improve the appearance of stretch marks. Old stretch marks that are white or silver in color are even harder to treat.

If you are seeking a marked or total improvement in the appearance of stretch marks on your abdomen, abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgery is the only procedure capable of completely removing them. Some patients have experienced success reducing the appearance of stretch marks following Fraxel laser treatment, however, Fraxel isn’t suitable for all skin complexions, and the degree of improvement varies from patient to patient. I suggest only investing in Fraxel laser treatment if you feel you could be satisfied with a mild improvement.