Up to 80 percent of women have stretch marks—the pink, purple, brown, and/or white lines that are often left behind after pregnancy, weight gain, and large weight loss. While they may fade to a lighter color, for many women they are a source of embarrassment that cause them to feel self-conscious about wearing swimwear, shorts, or other revealing attire.
Stretch marks are actually scars that are caused when the skin undergoes extreme stretching, creating tears in the dermis. They most commonly appear on the abdomen, breasts, hips, and thighs, though other areas can develop them also. Numerous stretch mark creams and other remedies claim to prevent or diminish them, but finding a treatment that can completely eradicate them has, thus far, remained a mystery to the medical community.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Chris Patronella notes, “Every year a new treatment for stretch marks is brought to the market, which is solid evidence that last year’s treatment didn’t work. So often, plastic surgeons are asked, ‘Can you remove any of my stretch marks?’ The answer is ‘Yes, with a tummy tuck, we often can remove many stretch marks, though we may not be able to remove all of them.’”
During an abdominoplasty procedure, Dr. Patronella trims away loose abdominal skin, a process that allows him to get rid of stretch marks on the lower abdomen. Because the skin of the upper abdomen is pulled downward during the procedure, the stretch marks of the upper abdomen typically are moved to the lower abdomen. But even despite this limitation, “We still can provide a great improvement in the appearance of the abdomen,” commented Dr. Patronella. He added that most patients are pleased with their results “as long as they understand ahead of time the limitations of what we can do.”