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Tackling Scars, Stretch Marks & Cellulite With Dr. Abhijit Desai

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How to deal with stretch marks, scars & cellulite

Sooner or later in life, these concerns will cross your mind. No, not in your teens or early 20s. But before we go bananas overthinking the probability or improbability of getting melasma, scars, stretch marks or even cellulite; the sane solution would be to educate ourselves. Who better than Mumbai’s leading dermatologist, Dr. Abhijit Desai to address our concerns. He is an active member of various Indian and international Dermatology societies and has been the makeover expert for Femina Miss India, 2009. Time to educate yourself before it gets too late. A risk too high to take.

1. Beauty Book: How can melasma be effectively treated?

Abhijit Desai: "The best protocol to treat melasma is the Kligman’s formula, a prescription-only formulation that consists of 5% hydroquinone, 0.1% tretinoin, and 0.1% dexamethasone in hydrophilic ointment. Developed by Dr Albert Kligman, the combination is used to treat hyperpigmentation, age spots and scars. This is the first line of treatment. However, hydroquinone cannot be used long term because it can cause skin thinning. The follow-up maintenance treatment consists of a cream containing skin lightening agents such as kojic acid. Any skin lightening formulation may cause sun sensitivity so it’s best to use at night only, with adequate sun protection during the day."

2. BB: How can scars be lightened?

AD: "Hypertrophic scars can be made less noticeable by using skin lightening creams. For non-pigmented scars and surgical or traumatic scars you can use creams such as Mederma and Scanil."

3. BB: We run the risk of getting keloid scars after surgery. How can these be treated?

AD: "If the keloid scars are raised, itchy and inflamed, they need to be first treated with injectable steroids to flatten the scars and reduce itchiness and inflammation. Then various creams may be prescribed to make the less prominent and lighten them."

4. BB: Can we get unsightly stretch marks one year after delivering? If so, can they be treated?

AD: "Stretch mark treatment depends on how old the marks are. Typically, older scars are white and are called striae alba while fresh ones are red and called striae rubra. When they’re red and fresh, they’re far easier to treat with creams. Fractional laser treatment can perceptibly improve skin texture and make scars less obvious."

5. BB: Some come from the school of thought that ‘no matter what you do, you’re bound to get stretch marks’. Is this true?

AD: "That's not entirely true. A lot will depend on your lifestyle and eating habits while pregnant. It’s a misconception that you need to eat for two and stop exercising. Gentle exercise and healthy, sensible eating are very important during pregnancy. Technically, stretch marks are called striae. They’re basically thin, long bands in your skin caused by rapid stretching that occurs with pregnancy and other dramatic growth spurts (such as puberty). Stretch marks are also caused by the hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy, puberty, obesity and weightlifting. Stretch marks during pregnancy generally develop during the third trimester and may appear on the breasts, abdomen, hips, buttocks and thighs. They usually start out as pink or purplish red lines and then become permanent white or silver depressed scar-like marks after delivery. You can reduce their appearance by using a vitamin E rich cream to keep the skin supple."

6. BB: Can dimpled, bumpy skin on the thighs be treated?

AD: "What you seem to have is cellulite on your thighs. Cellulite deposition often occurs on women’s hips, thighs and buttocks. The lumpiness is caused by fat deposits under the skin that pushes the tissues under the skin, leading to changes in the appearance of the skin. Creams containing chemicals such as caffeine and theophyilline are often used because of their ability to break down fat stores. However, these skin creams don’t work in the long term because they can’t deliver the concentration of these chemicals for the length of time needed for significant fat breakdown. Nutritional supplements like ginkgo biloba, sweet clover, oil of evening primrose and fish oil help in fighting cellulite to some extent. Laser treatments for cellulite include two light-therapy devices that combine suction or massage with light therap. TriActive is a treatment that combines a low-level laser treatment with suction and manipulation of the skin, while VelaSmooth combines laser and massage therapy. However, both treatments require multiple treatment sessions and maintenance treatments to keep up the improved appearance."

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