Stretch marks are a difficult cosmetic problem that many women face. We see patients in our offices on a regular basis who are interested in a tummy tuck, many times after pregnancy, and are curious about whether or not the tummy tuck will remove or decrease the appearance of their stretch marks. Thankfully, for many of our patients, we can decrease the appearance of their stretch marks with a tummy tuck procedure.

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are scars that form in the dermal layer of the skin and show up as purple, red or pink lines. They may also show up as white lines, particularly on darker skin. Stretch marks tend to fade to a lighter white color or silvery color with time, but they do not ever truly disappear.

Why do women get stretch marks?

As for why women get them, women tend to get stretch marks when they gain excess weight quickly such as throughout a pregnancy. Stretch marks are also heavily influenced by hormones so women who gain extra weight while undergoing a great deal of stress or undergoing a pregnancy (or other hormonal event) will see greater severity of stretch marks compared to someone who gains weight quickly, but does not have these hormonal fluctuations.

Additionally, stretch marks appear because the skin has been stretched beyond its capacity. It loses its elasticity in the dermal layer of the skin and a scar is formed. Men can also get stretch marks, particularly if they gain weight quickly or they gain muscle quickly through workout out. Any time that the skin is stretched beyond its capacity to stretch, stretch marks form.

Where do stretch marks appear?

Stretch marks tend to appear on areas where women are prone to gaining weight quickly. These include areas such as the stomach, the hips, the buttocks and the thighs. Stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body, however, as long as the skin is stretched too much, stretch marks will develop.

How can stretch marks be treated?

Treatment for stretch marks is a relatively new concept and currently lasers are the best option for treatment. Pulsed-dye lasers such as the Vbeam or IPL can reduce redness while the fractional laser such as the Fraxel can help to smooth the skin. Massage can help improve the appearance of stretch marks slightly by promoting circulation to the area. However, these treatments vary in their effectiveness and will not completely remove marks.

How can a tummy tuck decrease the appearance of stretch marks?

A tummy tuck can decrease the appearance of stretch marks because some of the skin will be removed in the surgical process to tighten the stomach area. Surgeons can opt to remove skin areas that include stretch marks. Therefore, when these areas are removed, the stretch marks will also be removed. The problem, of course, is that stretch marks cannot be removed from every area. Most of the time, stretch marks above the belly button will not be removed, but stretch marks below the belly button can be removed.

What are the other benefits of a tummy tuck?

There are numerous benefits for tummy tuck surgery, often referred to as abdominoplasty, including lessening the appearance of stretch marks. Other benefits include tightening the abdominal wall and providing patients will a trim midsection. A tummy tuck procedure aims to correct sagging, weak muscles in the abdominal wall and repairs these muscles to create that trim svelte look. The tummy tuck can also include elements such as liposuction to remove unwanted fat in the area to further create a more streamlined look.

Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck surgery?

Good candidates for a tummy tuck procedure are individuals in good physical health who can undergo anesthesia and who do not have any health conditions that make operating risky. Good candidates for tummy tuck surgery are individuals who have weak muscle tone in their abdominal region and have loose, sagging skin.

Many patients who seek tummy tuck surgery are patients who have recently given birth or who have lost a significant amount of weight. We also see patients who did not have much weight to lose, but cannot seem to get rid of this stubborn area of fat around their stomach and would like to tighten the area up surgically. The best way to find out whether or not you are a good candidate for tummy tuck surgery is to set up a consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon to discuss your body goals and your current condition. These consultations can give you a better understanding of your best options to meet your body goals as well as the downtime and cost for your desired procedure or procedures.

Dr. Steinbrech is a board-certified plastic surgeon who treats patients in Manhattan, New York and Los Angeles, California. He performs plastic surgery procedures on patients including tummy tuck surgeries with stretch mark treatments. He offers other plastic surgery procedures such as breast augmentation, breast reduction and liposuction. For more information, you can visit Dr. Steinbrech’s website.

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