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In Skin Pigmentation, Tattoo Removal, Acne Scarring and Rejuvenation

Stretch Marks (Striae)

Melbourne Eastside Dermatology is a dermatologists-led specialist practice.  We provide treatments that can reduce stretch marks (striae).

What causes stretch marks (striae)?

Stretch marks are produced by stretching (distension) of the skin, causing the skin surface to thin down, and revealing the underlying skin structure.

The more common causes include pregnancy, weight gain, puberty growth spurt and steroid cream applications.  There are some rarer medical problems that may cause this as endocrine hormone issues e.g. Cushing’s syndrome or genetic conditions of elastin and collagen.  However, in many patients, this may occur without any identifiable causes.

Treatment for stretch marks (striae)

Regardless of the cause, the specific treatment depends on the stages and the appearance of the stretch marks.  A general guide of the treatments are as follow:

  • Topical Retinoid (Vitamin A), which is prescription grade topical treatment, can be used at any stages to try to even out the surface and encourage collagen rebuilding.  The effect will be small or moderate.
  • For early stretch marks, vascular laser (the most established laser for early scars or stretch marks is pulsed dye laser i.e. Candela VBeam Perfecta) can be used to reduce the level of distension.
  • For red stretch marks (usually still in early stages), vascular laser can be used to reduce the redness.
  • For brown stretch marks (usually late stages), laser targeting pigment changes such as Qswitch or the latest Pico-second laser can be used to lighten the colour.
  • For stretch marks that have a significant contour change (i.e that ones that looked more wrinkly, folded or have a “drop” or “raise” compared to surrounding skin), treatments will be aimed to smoothen the skin surface to blend into surrounding skin.  Options would include micro needling, radio frequency (with or without needling), fractionated non-ablative treatment (such as 1550nm wavelength or PicoWay fractionated Resolve treatment).  The most intense treatment would be fractionated ablative laser such as CO2 or Erbium laser.

It is very important to have a realistic expectation.  Stretch marks (striae) is very similar to white (hypo pigmented) scars.  The end result is never to have completely normal skin, because this is not achievable.  The aim is to reduce the extension, minimise the colour difference, and blend in the contour.  This is definitely a condition where many patients may walk out feeling disappointed, if there is no discussion about the expectation of treatment outcome.

Candela VBeam Perfecta

Gold standard laser for red stretch marks, particularly useful at the early stage of stretch marks for reducing redness (this remains the best times to treat stretch marks).

Venus Viva
Nano-Fractionated Radiofrequency

Nano-fractionated radiofrequency technology can produce tiny fractions of heating with surface ablation and heating of the underlying skin, to smoothen the contour without any needling involved.

Zoom and Resolve

The latest Pico-second technology is effective in reducing pigmentation on stretch marks.  The PicoWay handpiece technology and be used to create smoothening of the contour without heating up the skin and underlying tissues.


Simple Micro-needling can induce tiny near invisible puncture of skin to stimulate collagen and elastin remodeling, and coupled with use of topical retinoids can achieve improvement of stretch marks.

Why do I have stretch marks?

While many causes are known (pregnancy, weight gain, growth spurt and steroid use), majority for times the explanation is still genetic predisposition as to why one would develop stretch marks.  If you feel you are developing stretch marks at unusual body sites, please kindly see your doctor to discuss why.

Can stretch marks be treated?

We stress while many modalities of treatment help, no one can offer a treatment that can completely make them disappear.  This is the most important message for anyone who is planning to have treatment.

When is the best time to treat stretch marks?

In its earliest stages while it is red, treatment works the best.  When it is white and flat, the only treatment aim is to blend in the edges of the stretch marks with surrounding normal skin, and to stimulate underlying collagen growth.

Can I use any creams to reduce stretch marks?

Vitamin A (especially prescription grade retinoid) creams remain the most helpful and proven topical treatment.  Regular moisturiser to prevent dry skin is important but perhaps does not reverse the stretch marks once established.

Can I prevent stretch marks?

Apart from avoiding the obvious cause (such as use to steroid creams), there are no proven benefits of applying any creams or treatment to prevent stretch marks.

Do not apply retinoid or Vitamin A containing cream during pregnancy as this is contraindicated.

Can stretch marks be treated with laser?

We offer vascular laser Vbeam Perfecta to reduce redness, PicoWay to reduce pigmentation and PicoWay Resolve to smoothen contour.  Microneedling itself, or non-needling with radiofrequency can be trialled for recontouring.

Are stretch marks treatment painful?

Generally all these are gentle modalities which require just topical anaesthesia, and sometimes none.

Is stretch mark treatment dangerous?

Any procedure carries risk but the procedures that we may consider are all considered low risk, low downtime procedures.

How effective is stretch mark treatment?

Realistic expectation is important as the aim is to improve the appearance, rather than reverse the changes back to normal.

How many treatments are required?

It depends on the treatment aim.  For red stretch marks, improvement may be seen even after 1 treatment even though this is generally repeated for a few sessions, 4-6 weeks apart.  For trying to improve the skin texture, multiple sessions are likely required, expect in the range of 3-5 sessions as a trial.

Where can I get stretch marks treated in Melbourne?

We offer our treatments in our practice in Blackburn South.  You can ask for a consultation with us in our Blackburn South rooms or Croydon rooms.

We are within the vicinity of Knox, Wantirna, Mitcham, Ringwood, Burwood, Glen Waverley, Mount Waverley, Kew, Camberwell, Balwyn, Doncaster, Donvale, Templestowe, Box Hill, Mont Albert and Surrey Hills, and we serve a large referral base up to Croydon, Mooroolbark, Lilydale, Boronia and Yarra Valley / Yarra Ranges wineries.

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