When patients come in with stretch marks, we’ve traditionally had little to offer them. Retin-A cream helps somewhat. IPL and vascular lasers can be used if the stretch marks are red or purple in color. But that was about it, unless the stretch marks were on the lower portion of the abdomen – and the patient wanted a tummy tuck, which would surgically remove the entire zone of stretch-mark laden skin.
Well, guess what. Just this month, Palomar Medical Technologies announced that their Lux1540 laser handpiece has received clearance by the FDA for the treatment of stretch marks. As you might expect, the company, their accountants and their stockholders are all very excited about this, as now they can market this laser to the millions of women worldwide who have unwanted stretch marks.
As we’ve discussed before, FDA approval for devices doesn’t necessarily imply that the gadget is effective – just that it is reasonably safe. So does this laser really do what it claims?
The Lux 1540 isn’t that new – it’s a fractional, non-ablative “erbium-glass” laser that’s been previously used for skin resurfacing and the treatment of scars. What’s new here is the official indication for use in stretch mark therapy. According to the data submitted to the FDA, clinical studies with the Lux1540 achieved an average improvement of between 51% and 75% in the appearance of stretch marks, over a three month time period. Of course, that’s corporate-sponsored research. I haven’t seen any peer-reviewed, independent studies as yet.
So, the stretch marks got better with the treatment, but did not vanish. Nevertheless, this could represent an improvement over the previous non-surgical therapies we’ve had for striae….we’ll have to see how it pans out in independent trials.
Bottom line: cautiously optimistic.