If you are one of the thousands, probably millions, of people who have stretch marks, you might be wondering if there is any way to get rid of them.
Stretch marks are a world wide, age old problem and once you get them, getting rid of them is not an easy task.
There are several treatment options for getting rid of stretch marks, but it is rare that they can be completely eliminated. Even the best, most expensive and professional treatments seldom ever erase all traces of stretch marks. This is especially true in certain skin types and colors.
It may be helpful to you to learn a bit more about what stretch marks are and what causes them.
What Are Stretch Marks?
While many people think of stretch marks as scars, they really aren’t. Not in the sense that they are caused by an actual wound, that is.
Stretch marks are technically called striae. They are shiny, indented lines on your skin. These marks are often discolored and may be either red, pink or even purple.
When you gain a lot of weight really fast, as in pregnancy, your skin is only able to stretch so far and then it breaks. These breaks occur in the middle layer (or dermis) of your skin, and the lower layers show through. The red or purple marks you see are the underlying blood vessels.
Stretch marks are also caused by other things, such as:
- Certain medications, such as corticosteroids and steroids
- Some diseases, including Cushing’s Syndrome
- Rapid weight gain
Stretch marks may also rarely be caused by a genetic condition, so if you suddenly begin developing them; see your doctor right away!
You should know that regular, run of the mill stretch marks are no health hazard at all, and that over time, they usually fade to a grayish, silvery or white color and become less noticeable. This is because the blood vessels dilate and move deeper into your skin. It’s “filled in” with white fat deposits.
Men and women alike can have stretch marks, although more women have them simply because about 80% of pregnant women develop stretch marks and it is women who have babies.
It is far better to prevent stretch marks than trying to treat them after they develop. During pregnancy or other periods of fast growth, use a cream to keep your skin moist and supple, so that it is less likely to break when it stretches.
Treatment Options for Stretch Marks
What are your options to get rid of or at least improve the appearance of stretch marks?
If you have stretch marks that you really want to get rid of, or at the very least make look less noticeable, there are several treatment options available.
Lotions and Creams
We’ll start by taking a look at over the counter creams and lotions available to treat stretch marks.
There are a lot of these products on the market. If you want to try one or more of them before resorting to anything more drastic, do some homework first to find out about the ones you’re considering buying.
For instance, what claims does the product make? What are its ingredients? Are the reviews mostly good, or preponderantly bad? Are there believable testimonials about the product … and not just off the manufacturer’s website? How much of the product do you get in a jar, bottle or dispenser? How about price?
These are all things to take into consideration when you are shopping around for stretch mark creams.
When you have decided on a particular product to help with stretch marks, be sure to use it as recommended by the manufacturer. If the instructions for use say to apply it three times a day, then that is what you should do. Don’t try to make the cream last longer and save money by only using it once every day or two, instead of as directed because it won’t work and in the long run, this means that you will have wasted your money.
Even when used as directed, stretch mark creams may not give you the results you want.
Alternatives to Creams
Sometimes, your stretch marks might be so severe that no amount of cream is going to help as much as you would like. In that event, it may be time to bring out the big guns with treatments from a cosmetic surgeon.
There are several options for helping to get rid of or improve stretch marks:
- Laser Therapy – Intense light is used to stimulate production of collagen in your skin.
- Microdermabrasion – Crystals are blown onto your skin, polishing it. After this step, a tube vacuum removes the crystals and the abraded skin. This encourages the growth of fresh skin that will help diminish the stretch marks so that they blend in with your regular skin.
- Prescription Creams – Tretinoin creams, including Retin-A and Renova, are applied topically to treat recent stretch marks. Please note that if you have had your stretch marks for a while, these creams won’t work.
- Chemical Peels – These treatments are similar to microdermabrasion in that they basically peel away the outer layer of skin with the stretch marks.
All in all, unless your stretch marks are extreme, you might be well advised to try to diminish their appearance with an over the counter cream before spending a lot of money on a more invasive treatment.