Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Can You Erase Stretch Marks? February 28, 2011

I think that stretch marks are up there with cellulite as one of the more annoying yet typical skincare issues that millions of people suffer from.  I keep seeing commercials on TV for creams that claim to get rid of stretch marks and make all sorts of incredible promises about how easy it is to get rid of stretch marks.  Well the truth about stretch marks is different from what those TV commercials would have you believe.


What Are Stretch Marks?


Stretch marks are technically an atropic scar that forms from the inside out in the skin and occurs when the skin is abnormally stretched for an extended period of time like during pregnancy or weight gain.  These marks form when collagen and elastin, the skin’s support system, break down or lose their structure beneath the skin’s surface.  Stretch marks can look almost like wood grain, and the skin tends to be shinier, even sometimes a little red or white,  in those areas.  Stretch marks can appear on the belly, the backs of the hips, insides of the knees, and the sides of the breasts.  


Who Gets Stretch Marks?


Here is the bad news, or depending on your perspective, the good news.  Stretch marks are ultimately genetic.  Yes, rapid weight loss and gain along with pregnancy are contributing factors for stretch mark formation but even if you are thin you can get stretch marks if you have a genetic predisposition for them.  Because of the strong genetic connection stretch marks are hard to prevent.


Treatment Options


Don’t buy all those over the counter creams that claim to erase stretch marks.  Save your money!  They don’t work!  And now for more bad news – there is no such thing as erasing stretch marks completely, but you can improve their appearance and make them less visible. 

Retinoids, prescription retinol creams and gels, may help to slowly improve the appearance of stretch marks since they exfoliate the epidermis.  But you can’t expect vast improvements in the appearance of your stretch marks if you just use retinoids.

By far the best solution for improving the appearance of stretch marks is to do laser treatments.  You do need to invest significant time and money in these laser treatments since you’ll need on average ten to twenty visits in order to see a real significant change in the appearance of your stretch marks.  There are a few different type of lasers that can be used to treat stretch marks.  A qualified physician can tell you about all your options. Another treatment that might work are physician administered TCA peels which penetrate deeply enough to stimulate the growth of new collagen and smooth the skin.


Sources and Further Reading


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