How to Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks
Whether during puberty, pregnancy, or somewhere in between, many of us will develop stretch marks.
These fine lines occur when the skin stretches or shrinks quickly – often during times of rapid weight loss or gain. While there aren’t any adverse effects of stretch marks, some people are bothered by their
appearance and want to get rid of them (or, at the very least, minimize their appearance).
The good news is that certain treatments can make stretch marks less noticeable. Here’s a quick rundown of your options!
Available with a prescription, tretinoin is a derivative of vitamin A – also known as a retinoid – that can be applied topically to increase collagen production, helping to fade early stretch marks. Note that tretinoin is not recommended for sensitive skin. Retinol, which is also a retinoid, may also help fade stretch marks less than a few months old.
Over-the-counter creams, lotions, and ointments
There are many products formulated specifically to treat stretch marks; these products may contain vitamin E, cocoa butter, shea butter, and olive oil, among other ingredients. While the jury is still out on how effective these products are, if you’re going to try one, use it daily for several weeks – and take the time to massage it gently into your skin – for the best results.
One of the most effective means of reducing the appearance of stretch marks is with a dermatologist-performed laser treatment. The goal is to stimulate healthy collagen production, which, after several treatments, will thicken dermal skin and improve the appearance and texture of stretch marks.
This procedure is a very safe option that works by exfoliating the top layer of skin and stimulating the growth of new skin cells. Microdermabrasion is most effective on mild-to-moderate stretch marks or when used in combination with other treatments.
Another exfoliating treatment, chemical peels involve an acid solution that is applied to the skin to boost new skin growth. Chemical peels may provide mild improvement to stretch marks.
A few rounds of microneedling can also aid in reducing the appearance of stretch marks. Microneedling is performed using a handheld device with tiny needles to penetrate the skin, intended to stimulate collagen growth.
Even with treatment, it’s likely your stretch marks won’t ever completely disappear. But they are harmless, and most will fade over the years – with or without treatment. If stretch marks have you stressed, speak to your dermatologist to further explore your options!