It is known that measurement and extraction of the tiny amplitude of second harmonic Lamb waves are the main difficulties for practical applications of the nonlinear Lamb wave technique. In this study, phase-reversal approaches and phase matching technique are combined to build up the second-harmonic generation (SHG) of Lamb waves. A specific Lamb wave mode pair, which satisfied phase matching conditions, is selected to ensure the generation of cumulative second harmonic waves. Lamb wave signals with the same frequency but in reverse phase, propagating in the given specimen, are added together to counteract the fundamental waves, and simultaneously to enhance the signals of the second harmonic generated. The obtained results show that the phase-reversal approach can enhance the signals of second harmonic Lamb waves, and effectively counteract that of the fundamental waves. The approach is applied to assess the thermal-induced material degradation in the stainless steel plates. Distinctions of the acoustic nonlinearity parameters under different degraded levels are clearly shown in an improved repeatable and reliable manner, while those of linear wave velocity in the specimens are neglectable. The experimental investigations performed indicate that the proposed approach can be taken as a promising alternative for assessment of material degradation in its early stages.