5 Ways to Say Goodbye to Stretch Marks

If stretch marks are strewn along your stomach, hips, or thighs,  you may think there's nothing you can do about this unsightly problem. But the truth is, certain treatments can help to significantly reduce their appearance.

Stretch marks are caused by a stretching of the skin, combined with elevated cortisone levels. Since cortisone can weaken skin's elastic fibers and cause its middle layer to tear, you may end up with indented, reddish-colored marks that eventually turn white. While they're medically harmless, they can be embarrassing. Here, tips on diminishing on this common cosmetic problem:

Tretinoin Cream

Best for: Pink or red marks that are less than 6 weeks old

How To Use: Applied topically. Cannot be used during pregnancy

How It Works: Tretinoin can help rebuild collagen, causing the marks to fade and blend in with your skin

Pulsed Dye Laser Therapy or Fractional Photothermolysis

Best for: Newer stretch marks

How to Use: A doctor or technician pulses a laser at affected areas

How It Works: The light stimulates internal skin layers and encourages collagen and elastin to grow. Fractional Photothermolysis, targets dot-like areas within the stretch marks, causing the non-damaged area to heal more quickly.


Best for: Older stretch marks

How to Use: A therapist uses a hand-held device to blast the affected area with crystals to polish the skin.

How It Works: After the abrading crystals do their work, a vacuum removes the dead skin cells, effectively buffing off the top-most layer of the skin and leaving you with newer, more elastic skin that has less visible marks.

Excimer Laser

Best for: Older stretch marks

How to Use: A doctor or technician beams a laser at the stretch marked skin

How It Works: Unlike other laser treatments, the Excimer Laser stimulates your skin's melanin production to cause the streaks to darken to the color of the surrounding skin.

Tummy Tuck

Best for: Extreme cases

How to Use: A surgeon generally performs this procedure under general anesthesia, though partial tummy tucks can occasionally be performed with a local anesthetic.

How It Works: The surgeon makes incisions in the abdomen, tightens the abdominal muscles, and removes sagging skin. Sometimes this procedure is performed in combination with liposuction.

Since no stretch mark treatment is 100% effective, scientists have turned their attention to what can be done to prevent them. A recent study found that women who suffered from stretch marks lacked sufficient DNA and protein in their skin, and a skin biopsy could predict if they were likely to develop stretch marks after pregnancy. The hope is that now that doctors have identified the cause, treatments can be developed to prevent them in the first place.




American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery


Mayo Clinic