Rodolpho Torres may not be as well-known stateside as say, Dr. Woo or Jon Boy, but hey, tell that to his 1.2 million Instagram followers. The São Paulo-based tattoo artist regularly posts pictures of his ink on various clients, but what has earned him a huge following? His videos and before-and-after shots of treating stretch marks on various parts of the body.
Stretch marks are a relatively common skin concern among women, and develop when skin cells in the dermis are stretched at a rate quicker than normal, which is often the case with rapid weight changes or during pregnancy. Conventionally, they can be treated with lasers and devices that stimulate and tighten skin to minimize the appearance of uneven skin tone and texture. Torres's technique — which, according to his bio and various post captions, is entirely original — uses strategically placed ink along the contours of the mark to create a sort of optical illusion that results in an even, smoothed-out skin surface.
And it's worth pointing out that while Torres also shares images of his non-stretch mark-related work, the engagement he receives on his videos stands apart from his 'grams. (A recent picture of a flowery hip tat garnered just less than 7,000 likes and 24 comments, but an equally recent stretch mark video received more than 60,000 views and currently has 77 comments.) They're weirdly addictive to watch, right? But because it's generally not great practice to believe everything you see on the Internet, we talked to a dermatologist to get an expert's take on whether or not this is actually a good idea.
But on closer inspection, that's really all it is: an optical illusion. When compared with treatments that can be administered by a dermatologist, tattooing away stretch marks may present its own set of issues. "It can work, but the thing is, what a stretch mark is, basically, is loss of skin," says NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Doris Day. "The risk is, if [a tattoo] is done by someone who doesn't understand how to [treat skin], you can end up with a scar, and a potentially worse problem, especially in an area that's already thinner and missing some of the essential elements of skin." If you're serious about seeking treatment for stretch marks, Day advises seeing a pro who can administer an FDA-approved method that is generally safer, more reliable, and scientifically tested. "This is a medical treatment that should be done by a dermatologist, she says. "It's not a spa treatment, and it does carry risks, such as infection and scarring."