Last updated at 5:03 PM on 24th May 2010
Women are being offered a 'Holy Grail' treatment to zap stretchmarks.
A new laser treatment can dramatically reduce the telltale white streaks of stretchmarks by up to 75 per cent, claim its developers.
Although pregnancy is one of the most common causes of stretchmarks, they can affect teenagers and young women long before they think of starting a family.
Even celebrities like actress Kate Beckinsale are no stranger to stretchmarks
Growth spurts and weight fluctuations may result in marks forming on the thighs and 'love handles', much to the distress of bikini-wearers.
Even top actresses such as Kate Beckinsale and Scarlett Johansson have been spotted with the slivery marks of striae - the medical term - around the cleavage.
Men may also become victims, with the most commonly affected areas including the arms, flanks and back.
As well as tackling stretchmarks, the laser can treat surgical scars, acne scars, dark skin patches - known as melasma - and other skin conditions.
The Lux1540 laser is already being used in the U.S
The laser treatment works by creating columns of heat with the affected tissue. This kick-starts a natural healing tissue that stimulates the growth of new, healthy tissue.
Previous surgical treatments have a poor record, with inconsistent results from other laser systems and topical creams.
Nine out of 10 women are affected by stretchmarks - around 23 million - which means there is a huge market for the cosmetic treatment, currently available only privately.
However, developer Dr Maurice Adatto insists the Lux1540 fractional laser treatment has the credentials necessary to leave customers happy.
It is the only treatment of its kind for stretchmarks which has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, and clinical trial data says it's effective.
Dr Adatto, an independent doctor specialising in dermatology, laser and cutaneous surgery, said: 'Ongoing clinical studies have shown that patients treated with the Lux1540 Fractional non-ablative laser achieved an average improvement of between 51 per cent and 75 per cent in the appearance of their striae.
'For the right patient, the laser provides a treatment option for stretchmarks that offers significant improvement. 'The non-ablative laser allows for comfortable treatments with little or no impact on the patient's daily activities.'
This cross-section shows how microbeams penetrate into deeper layers of skin
In a study of 200 people with a range of skin types, 'dramatic clinical improvements' were achieved by treating a ribbon of tissue wider than the stretchmark.
A minority of patients needed topical anaesthetics during treatment and there were no long-term side effects.
Only four treatments are needed for maximum results - but it comes at a price.
Having the full course will set women back a cool Â£1,200.
The treatment offered by The Harley Medical Group will be initially available at its London clinics in Harley Street and the City, Birmingham, Manchester and Dublin. It will go nationwide in the next couple of months.Â Â Â
Mel Braham, chairman of The Harley Medical Group, which has 29 clinics across the UK and Ireland,Â said 'I must have been presented with more than one hundred â€˜wonder treatmentsâ€™ for stretchmarks over the years but I can say that this is the first that has lived up to all they hype. Â
'This breakthrough laser, which has gone through rigourous clinical trials and has been approved by our medical advisory committee, is the only treatment of its type in the UK and promises exceptional results. Â
'With so many unproven or ineffective treatments currently on the market, this truly is one of the most exciting non-surgical advancements we have seen in some time.'
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