Stretch marks are a natural part of life, but for some people, they’re an unwanted nuisance that must be minimized or eliminated. And while there are a lot of products and procedures that claim to make stretch marks go away, most won’t help.
Celebs like Danielle Brooks and Chrissy Teigen have spoken openly about their stretch marks on Instagram and twitter, demonstrating it’s something even celebrities deal with.
But what treatments actually work?
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are a pulling out of the elastic properties of skin, which result in a thinning of the dermis and epidermis. The elastic properties of skin stretch or pull out but they can’t retract back to their original shape.
Certain people are predisposed to get stretch marks from genetics, while others get them because of weight gain, through both fat gain or weightlifting, growth spurts or pregnancy.
During pregnancy is when the skin is stretched beyond what the capability of that skin type is to retract back. It rips those elastic qualities of the skin and pulls them apart so that they can’t retract back to normal. In essence, they are irreversible as a problem.
Stretch marks can develop anywhere on the body, like the abdomen, thighs, armpits, and breasts. Essentially, anywhere skin can get pulled or stretched.
It’s impossible to prevent stretch marks, but the appearance of certain stretch marks can fade with time or with special treatments. But they’ll never fade completely.
Early stretch marks that are red respond well to lasers such as the pulsed dye. There are also studies showing treatments such as Fraxel and microneedling devices may help to improve the appearance of stretch marks with multiple treatments over time. These devices help stimulate collagen, creating plumper skin.
Microdermabrasion/dermabrasion is an option, but less likely to result in a significant response compared to Fraxel and/or microneedling.
Topical retinoids are sometimes prescribed to help stimulate collagen as well (this can’t be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding though). How well one responds depends on how severe the stretch marks are at baseline.