If you're among the 90 percent of women that suffer from stretch marks, you know that the marks can be annoying and tough to overcome.
While a healthy amount of pre-wedding diet and exercise is a surefire way to make you feel great for the big day, sketch marks are natural and there are many factors at play that make stretch marks tough to get rid of.
Stretch marks, or striae, are indented streaks that often appear on the stomach, hips, butt, breasts, and thighs. They vary in thickness and color, and they are usually pink or reddish-purple to start, fading to silvery-white overtime. The marks are caused by stretching of the skin due to rapid weight gain, pregnancy, fluctuating hormone levels, and sometimes, pure genetics, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While losing weight when stretch marks first arise can help diminish their appearance, consistent aerobic exercise and strength training to replace body fat with muscle won't make them vanish.
Think of stretch marks like scars in the middle layer of your skin. Sounds impossible to get at, right? Not so — if you have a good doctor.
Jennifer Chwalek, M.D., a board certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology who specializes in cosmetic and laser surgery, said microneedling could be the answer if you want to get rid of your stretch marks. The procedure "is often used to smooth out acne scars and fine wrinkles on the face, but can also treat stretch marks on the body," she says. Dr. Chwalek explained that microneedling requires less recovery time compared to popular laser treatments. "Fraxel or vbeam lasers can combat redness caused by stretch marks, but the results often fall short of expectations and treatments on the body may take longer to heal," she says.
We decided to try a round of treatment with EndyMed's Intensif RF Microneedle. The device — essentially a thin wand hooked up to a standing machine — is outfitted with super fine needles that penetrate down into the skin's deepest layer (the dermis) to essentially "traumatize" the skin and, as a result, kick-start the production of collagen and elastin through the body's natural healing process. This particular device also uses radiofrequency to heat the deeper dermis, which can increase the effects of the treatment.
After I was properly numbed with topical cream, Dr. Chwalek began working the wand over the individual stretch marks. Each poke was painless, but felt like it was pinching my skin from the inside out, which was pretty weird. We treated my right side and then the left over about a 30-minute period while chatting the entire time.
My skin was fairly red immediately following the treatment, but the color gradually faded over the next few days. My skin was also slightly itchy, which I took as a sign that something was working.
Each spot where the microneedle went into my skin remained visible for about two weeks, so Dr. Chwalek recommended planning your treatments at least that far in advance of any event (or any vacation that involves being in a bikini), and also advises three to five treatments total. So if you decide to go for it in preparation for your big day, plan to start at least six months out.