I’m going to hazard a guess here and say that as you’re reading this then you’re probably already thinking about seeking treatment for your stretch marks because it’s an unfortunate skin complaint that a large amount of people suffer from but are far too embarrassed to talk about or treat. From growth spurs to weight loss/gain, having babies or working out; at one point or another we are all lightly to stretch our skin, some worse than others. I first obtained stretch marks when I fell pregnant with my daughter aged nineteen when I gained a lot of weight in a short space of time and just two weeks before giving birth a whole load of deep red bloodied tears erupted across my stomach, hips and thighs which have since become white unsightly dents over the past eight years that I am now having laser treatment on at the Pulse Light Clinic in London.
I guess stretch marks affect different people in different ways, to some it may feel like the end of the world whereas others may feel proud for earning them through pregnancy. I’m not saying that they’re horrendous but that I simply preferred my body how it was without them and I certainly wouldn’t mind having my eighteen-year old physique back to boot! When my stretch marks appeared I cried my eyes out and mourned for the smooth flawless skin that I’d had just days before, it was hard at such a young age to come to terms with my body changing and having such a large expanse of damage and because of it I hid my body away and wore dark loose clothing at all times. As a single parent at the age of twenty-eight now with an eight year old daughter and three year old son I feel that my body confidence and ego has taken a fair battering over these past few years and tending to the areas of my body that I dislike will be a massive step towards regaining my body confidence. I’m not trying to be perfect, I don’t expect to ever be perfect or have immaculate pre-pregnancy skin with unrealistic results, but I know that I can improve on what I have here and make the best of my body whilst youth is somewhat on my side, and treating my stretch marks will certainly have a positive result on how I view my mummy-tummy.
After having two children and gaining around four-stone in weight with each pregnancy my stomach was left flabby and deflated and loves to wrinkle up and crinkle if I bend over; not that anybody really notices under clothes but you know what us ladies are like, as soon as we spot something that we’re not happy with a mole-hill soon becomes a mountain where body-hangups are concerned. I believe that in having my children so young I have a prematurely aged body that is littered with stretch marks and I feel particularly out of place when I’m around other ladies my own age who are yet to start a family. I always wear a bikini on the beach because it’s what I like to wear but I also feel self-conscious about the condition of the skin on my stomach, hips and thighs because it’s mottled, dented, weakened and silvery-lined yet if I wore a swimming costume around others I’d stand out more so for being over-dressed. So when I’m in my bikini on the beach or at a pool home or abroad I take a deep breath, hold my head high and tell myself that I’m more uncomfortable about my own stretch marks than other people are at seeing them on me, it’s just a common skin complaint that we can improve with treatment.
So I’ve chosen laser treatment as a way to repair my damaged skin caused by pregnancy stretch marks as it’s a highly successful and non-invasive method with no downtime involved. There are visible results starting from the very first treatment and you’re free to return to normal activities directly after treatment. The only surefire way to remove stretch marks entirely is to have an abdominoplasty, or a tummy tuck surgery which involves cutting the damaged skin out of the stomach and closing it back up, not only does this leave a long scar across your pubic line but due to the amount of skin you have it may not be possible to remove all of the stretch marks, it costs thousands of pounds and involves a long and painful recovery with no bending or lifting for a few months. As a busy single mother I couldn’t justify the cost or recovery time spent having surgery to my stomach for cosmetic purposes and as I’m already happy with my body size and post-pregnancy weight I’m not looking to lose excess skin or fat but just improve the texture of the skin that I have.
Lasering stretch marks helps to provide smoother, more even skin through the use of fractional laser technology which emits short pulses of laser energy to target the damaged area to break down scarring and stimulate the production of new collagen so that your body effectively repairs itself. The treatment reduces redness, improves discolouration and smoothes out dented skin for a more even natural appearance within three to five sessions and long lasting results on all skin types, location of stretch marks and scars no matter their cause. A single treatment takes around thirty-minutes depending on the area and size and older more severe stretch marks may take up to ten treatments depending on an individuals results. After treatment you can expect redness and in some cases blistering but this should fade within a few hours and heal within a week or two.
Both men and women can suffer from stretch marks and the most common places to get them are the stomach, breasts, upper arms, thighs and bum. The lighter the colour of your skin the higher the likelihood of getting stretch marks and I can personally vouch for pregnancy being a popular cause as well as weight gain/loss, adolescence and bodybuilding. I’ve booked myself in for a consultation and skin test in three days time where a laser practitioner will firstly assess the condition of my stretch marks and skin and advise if I am suitable for treatment before testing a small area of my skin with a laser to see how I react just like when a hairdresser tests you for an allergic reaction to hair dye. Providing my consultation goes well I will then book onto a full course of treatment and document my journey, treatment, aftercare and before and after progress here for you all to see. No pressure!
It feels like today has taken forever to arrive because I’ve been so excited about seeing if my skin can be improved. I’ve lived with my stretch marks for eight long years now and my entire adult life which has had a massive impact on my self esteem; whilst they may not be blindingly obvious to others from a distance or show up badly in photos, up close they are pale, deep and wide and any improvement will be a massive bonus in my eyes. I’m a little nervous that it might hurt, as to get down several layers into my skin to stimulate regrowth means shooting something deep into me and my head is swimming with images of needles and spikes but I’m trying my best to remain calm and openminded because I know that it’s only light and even if it hurts then the pain will hopefully be worth it to have my new stomach.
Arriving at the Pulse Light Clinic on Fenchurch Street, London just a short stroll from Bank underground I was greeted by the friendly receptionist who checked off my appointment and gave me a clip board with some forms to fill out. Like all cosmetic treatments I was asked to complete my name, address, contact details and list any illnesses or medications I was on for which I have a clean bill of health. A few moments later I was greeted by my laser practitioner who led me into the treatment room to begin my patch test. I laid on the bed and lifted my shirt to reveal my stomach, she explained that the skin patch test would be performed on one small part of my stomach as different areas of my body didn’t need to be tested despite my treatment being to my stomach, hips and thighs. The purpose of the skin test was to assess how my skin reacts to the laser and the aim was to turn a small area red to show that the laser is doing its job properly in stimulating collagen regrowth whilst indicating what strength of laser I require for my first treatment.
The laser itself is a handheld device with a small square end containing a grid of dots that shoot light down into the skin. It doesn’t pierce or cut the skin in any way and isn’t hot or painful. Unlike other laser treatments I didn’t have any gel or cream applied to my skin prior to treatment, I was just asked to put on a pair or protective glasses to shield my eyes from the light and the patch test began. She started by pressing the laser into the skin on the lower right hand side of my stomach and then pulsing the light into me for around a second before she lifted it away. It was a funny sensation, a bit like when you feel static, kind of tingly but not sharp, hot or uncomfortable at all and I was amazed at how easy it was. After several seconds my skin started to turn pink and she then tried a stronger setting. Performing the same treatment she pressed the device into the same area of my stomach and waited a second before checking my skin. After testing a variety of settings my skin turned red and my patch test was complete.
It didn’t feel sore or unpleasant going over the same area with the laser and if my skin wasn’t red then you’d never have known that anything had been done. She then used a cold metal roller to roll over my stomach and cool the skin beneath and my test was complete. I have a small red patch on my stomach from where the test took place and she advised my entire treated area would be this red when I have my first session in four days time. I’m incredibly excited to begin my treatment and will keep you updated with progress pictures along the way!
UPDATE: 10/12/15 My First Treatment
Today I had my first full stretch mark laser treatment and it went really well. Just like how my patch test was performed I had a laser pressed into my stomach to penetrate the layers of my skin and stimulate collagen regrowth. This time the technician used a white pencil to mark a grid onto my stomach so that she could ensure even coverage to all areas of the skin as once it turns red it can be hard to tell where you’ve been.
Each section of skin is treated three times, which means going over the entire area in three different directions to capture every angle and area of the skin. I had treatment to my stomach and hips and in total it took around ten minutes, it’s incredibly fast, non-invasive and easy to receive. I simply had to lay down and relax as the technician got to work, and despite having stomach cramps from my approaching period I didn’t find it painful. She explained that the pressing sensation helps to muffle the laser so that it doesn’t pinch or sting but instead feels like a tiny fizzle of static like when you rub your hand across a balloon.
Within seconds my skin turned red and the technician advised that if I found my stomach hot that I could apply ice when I got home. I have no heat in my skin at all as the laser isn’t hot either but the area that has been treated is red and raised a bit like sunburn which is the perfect reaction that they were looking for as this indicates the collagen has been reached by the laser. Rather than my stretch marks being sunken in and white they turned a pink colour and puffed up which I’m reassured is entirely normal and will settle in 24-48hrs. Despite having a light tan from my holiday a few weeks ago it is advisable not to tan during treatments which is great for these colder months because there is zero sun. Other than that I’m fine to carry on as normal and should expect to see an improvement in texture and depth over the coming weeks.
This is a treatment that is very quick, non-invasive and can easily squeeze into a lunch break once a month with four to six treatments achieving maximum results. As a patient of the Pulse Light Clinic I was asked if I would allow the procedure to be filmed for an information video on their website which I was more than happy to take part in as I was also videoing my treatment for my Youtube channel. I think it’s important to share your experiences so that others can fully understand what to expect whilst also raising the standard of beauty in making these procedures public. Cutting corners, using cheap equipment, having untrained staff and poor hygiene can cause irreparable damage to your body and health which is why I find vlogging so important because it’s a first hand account of what actually happens under the watchful eye of a professional, unlike a poster or actor in an advert trying to sell you something.
UPDATE: 14/01/16 The Results Of My First Treatment
Now that Christmas is over I can book in for my second laser stretch mark removal treatment at Pulse Light Clinic but I just wanted to share with you my results so far. The redness went away within 24hrs following my first treatment and over the next few days even I noticed a difference. When the swelling of the stretch marks went down they weren’t as deep as before which mean’t that they don’t stand out as obviously because of their texture. Considering I have five or so more treatments to go I’m thrilled with the results so far and looking forward to sharing with you my before and after photos once I’ve completed my final treatment. I will keep you updated on my progress so remember to check back soon!
I’ve just seen that my stretch mark treatment that the clinic had filmed is being used as a case study on their website to inform the public about the benefits of lasering, how amazing is that; high five for body confidence!
UPDATE: 22/02/16 Treatment 2
Today I had my second stretch mark treatment to my stomach and hips and this is my skin directly before my treatment to show the first sessions results now that I am healed. My skin feels much smoother and I think that the stretch marks are less noticeable because the texture of the scars aren’t as deep as they were before. I’ve had a tattoo added to my back as a coverup which limits the area of my hips that can be treated as the laser can’t go too close to ink but I’m very pleased with my results so far and I’m looking forward to showing you my progress at my next session in 6wks time.
UPDATE: 04/04/16 Treatment 3
Today I had my third stretch mark treatment and this is my skin healed before my procedure to show the results of my second treatment. It’s really difficult to get my stretch marks to show up on camera as it takes the right light to catch the texture of them. The stretch marks on my hips are almost invisible now as the texture has improved wonderfully and they’re only slightly lighter than my natural skin tone. This shot of my stomach has really caught the depth of my stretch marks and the texture is something I desperately want to improve on. I hate the lumpy bumpy rippling that the scars create but gradually they are lifting out as my collagen is stimulated. To me they still look awful in this picture but it’s been a great improvement on how deep they were. I’m more than determined to be patient and wait for my results as my practitioner advised that we can still get a great improvement in my skin texture as I approach the half way mark of my treatment.
UPDATE: 03/06/16 Saying Goodbye To My Stretch Marks
So I just want to show you how well my stretch marks have healed after my third laser treatment as I didn’t realise at the time but it would be my final lasering session which has finished in half the time; not because I didn’t want to do it anymore but because I achieved the most amazing results which has improved the texture of my skin enormously and they are virtually undetectable now that they’re not so lumpy and bumpy.
It took so many different types of lighting and angles to capture my stretch marks on camera but I hope that this picture does them justice as I wanted to show them finally healed from my third treatment, but they’re really not bad at all anymore. Literally if I move my phone slightly further away or look at my stomach from a slight angle they blend in completely, it’s just the slightly lighter colour that shows up. I’m thrilled with the results and feel so much better about my body to the point that I decided to get a new tattoo.
I was actually thinking of having something on my leg when I spoke to my tattooist and he said why not put it on my stomach instead so that we could make it bigger and more detailed as nobody would see it on my thigh. I was worried that my stomach area might be uneven to tattoo with stretch marks as there is strong and weak skin but he said that in having my lasering the quality of my stomach has improved greatly and is now ideal for tattooing without presenting any problems or side effects from normal skin. So I bit the bullet and had a 6hr stomach tattoo and I love it to pieces. I hardly felt a thing and my skin made no difference to any other area of my body because it has its strength back from my treatments. Without my stretch mark lasering my stomach would have still been wrinkly and puckered up, but now it is smooth, soft and 100% flawless with a beautiful lotus flower and hand of hamsa to motivate and inspire my journey through life.
When people first hear that I have two children they are always so surprised and tell me it really doesn’t show, for the first time since I became a mother at the age of nineteen I feel restored, flawless and I have my body and confidence back. Life is never too short to change the things you dislike and for me lasering has been a great success!
If you have any thoughts, feedback or questions for me please feel free to leave them in the comment box below. Likewise if you’ve had lasering for stretch marks how did you find it? Were you happy with the results? Would you recommend it?