Stretch marks: 1st at-home device worldwide made in Michiana

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Plastic surgeon Dr. Ronald Downs of the Centre P.C. in Mishawaka has long been known for his expertise in the operating room. He and vascular surgeon Dr. Michael Rotkis brought the first nipple sparing mastectomy surgery for breast cancer patients to Michiana.

While his practice includes many types of cosmetic surgeries and treatments, he also specializes in reconstructive hand and facial surgery.

But one of the biggest complaints he hears in his office deals with a more common problem. "Everyday somebody walks into this office and says, 'What do you have for stretch marks?'"

It hit especially close to home when his then-18-year-old daughter, Hanna, came to him quite upset. She explained, "Being so close with my family growing up really helped me to be able to come to my dad and say, 'I've got a problem, I'm really upset, I've got these marks all over my body and I don't know what to do.'"

Dr. Downs say most people think of pregnant women with stretch marks, but he says it's a much bigger problem. "My daughter was not overweight, she was in her adolescence and they go through a growth spurt with puberty. Guys weight lifting get them, people who have lost a bunch of weight."

So Dr. Downs started working on a prototype solution. "We've been using LE- lights for a lot of different things. So we thought, is there any way we can utilize the LED technology for stretch marks?"

He and four investors put together the prototype for Strialite, and Hanna was their first test subject. "So we said, 'Hanna, try this and see if that speeds things up a bit,' and she said, 'Dad, after two weeks my stretch marks are fading.'"

That was three years ago, and Dr. Downs has since held a clinical trial involving 40 people, leading to the May 19 release of the first FDA-approved home medical device for stretch marks, worldwide. And the results, says Dr. Downs, were stunning. "Lo and behold, our results were pretty spectacular. We had about 80-90 percent of women who saw definitive changes in their stretch marks."

Men saw results too. Matt Bellaire, a 21-year-old from La Porte, also tested the device after losing 40 pounds. Although he was thrilled to lose weight, he wasn't happy with his stretch marks. "I find them embarrassing. It's just not something that I want everybody to see."

Hanna and Matt's before and after pictures were quite telling. Hanna saw an improvement to her stretch marks in two weeks, and Matt saw a difference in just one week.

"I've noticed the redness is fading away, I've noticed it improving, slowly disappearing," Matt explained.

Strialite's recommended use is three times a week for 20 minutes, spread over six weeks.

"What Strialite does is it utilizes light emitting diodes," Dr. Down explains, referring to NASA-pioneered LED lights, which have many uses. "Stretch marks are basically a scar, damaged collagen, much like a wrinkle would be. So we want to do something that's going to repair collagen, so that we know that our LED light wave length, which is 633 nanometers, affects skin cells at a very deep level."

Both Hanna and Matt said using it was a breeze, with a warm sensation.

"It's really easy to use. Just do it as you watch TV or something," Matt explained.

Hanna said the same. "I would use it at night just sitting in front of the TV for 15 or 20 minutes, just holding it, super easy."

The cost for Strialite is $449.00, which Dr. Downs believes is extremely cost effective when you consider the laser alternative. "Oh holy smokes. They (lasers) work, but you have to come to my office to do it and they're fairly expensive, in the thousands of dollars per treatment."

Both Hanna and Matt say they will continue to use Strialite if other stretch marks pop up, and in Hanna's case, she wants to now finish her other hip. Because of the study, she could only use Strialite on one hip.

Matt says, "I would definitely recommend to my friends, family, anybody."

Hanna added, "I know a lot of body builders will have stretch marks on their arms, and to be able to have this machine is going to revolutionize the way people look at themselves."

And she didn't mind being her dad's guinea pig. "I was really honored, to have your dad come to you and say, 'I have invented this to solve your problem.' He's my hero."

As for Dr. Downs, he says he's excited to give back to his profession and patients, adding -- tongue in cheek -- "I am not sure I'm not going to cannibalize my own business."

Strialite will be sold online. There are products you can buy to enhance the results, but Hanna and Matt did not use those while testing. Learn more at www.strialite.com

It will also be sold at The Centre P.C's annual Spring Fling Thursday, May 19, from 4-8 p.m.

Centre PC Spring Fling
Thursday, May 19, 2016
611 E Douglas Rd #108, Mishawaka, IN 46545
(574) 968-9100