Stretch marks (striae) are a type of scar that develops when the skin stretches or shrinks quickly. This abrupt change to the skin causes the collagen and elastin to rupture. As the skin heals, stretch marks may appear. While not everyone will develop stretch marks, there is a genetic predisposition and fluctuating hormone levels also seem to play a role. The most common times to develop striae include puberty associated growth spurts, pregnancy, rapid weight change (gain or loss), or significant muscle gain from weight training.
In the early stages some stretch marks appear red or purple and can be more readily targeted with vascular laser. Once the stretch marks become white and atrophic (depressed from the skin surface) they require a series of resurfacing treatments to improve their appearance. While significant improvements can be made, often stretch marks cannot be fully removed from the skin.