A stretch mark is almost exactly the same thing as a scar. Stretch marks occur because stress is applied to the skin past the point it can handle, so the undersurface of the skin (dermis) actually tears leaving the thin top skin layer (epidermis) over the underlying scar tissue. The most common place for stretch marks to occur is on the abdomen during pregnancy because of rapid weight gain. Whether or not someone gets stretch marks from pregnancy is more dependent on how fast they gain their weight than how much weight they gain. Slow weight gain allows for growth of new skin and slight stretching without getting stretch marks. Unfortunately, there is no magic cream or lotion to prevent stretch marks; they don’t hurt, but they probably don’t help much either.
Submuscular Implant Position
Most patients who get breast implants do not have a problem with stretch marks on their breasts because there is not that much pressure put on the skin, particularly when the implants are put under the muscle. The muscle acts as a buffer between the implant and the skin, reducing the stress applied to the skin so there is less risk of stretch marks forming. Breast implants placed on top of the muscle run a higher risk of causing stretch marks to form, particularly if they are very large in size. In this situation, stretch marks can form early after surgery because of the pressure from the rapid change in size or years later from the weight and effects of gravity due to the lack of support. In addition to the buffer zone, implants placed under the chest muscle also provide that extra level of support to reduce the tendency of breasts to sag over time.
Stretch Marks are Permanent
The best way to prevent stretch marks from forming due to breast implant surgery is to put the implants under the muscle and avoid very large implants. Once stretch marks have formed, there isn’t much that can be done to get rid of them. Early stretch marks are often red or purplish in color, making that much more obvious. Over time the color goes away and they appear as pale slightly depressed jagged lines. Some laser manufacturers claim that their lasers can reduce the appearance of stretch marks and make them less noticeable. What the primarily do is speed up the disappearance of the reddish color so they go from young to mature stretch marks with probably little, if any, change in the final appearance.
Removing Stretch Marks
The only way to definitively get rid of stretch marks is to cut them out. Obviously this leaves permanent scars. A breast lift (Mastopexy) can remove stretch marks from the lower pole of the breast, much like a tummy tuck removes them from the abdomen below the umbilicus, but stretch marks on the rest of the breast will remain. Sometimes, ironically, they look a little better by expanding the skin a little with an implant, but this effect likely goes away with time.